At milepost 198 on the Iditarod National Historic Trail there was once an old trapper’s cabin where travelers and hunters would stop and stay. In the 1990s, Carl and Kirsten Dixon, an adventure enthusiast and an award-winning chef, came across this breathtaking place at the edge of a sparkling lake, nestled in the embrace of soaring mountains, and decided to transform it into an all-inclusive wilderness lodge that would offer an authentic Alaska backcountry experience.
Getting to this 15-acre gem is part of the enchantment: you fly by floatplane or skiplane over enormous stretches of forests and remote lakes, looking out at the ice-glazed peaks of Mt. Denali and Mt. Susitna and spotting wildlife from high above. If you visit in the summer, soak up the long days exploring glacial pools, white-water rafting, fly fishing wild rivers, scrambling a rugged ridgeline, or taking walks amid the wildflowers. In the winter, experience the northern lights after a day of dog-mushing, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. Over the decades, Carl and Kirsten have fine-tuned the Winterlake experience, moving from more typical fishing and bear-viewing excursions to creating a comprehensive and meaningful immersion in the Alaskan backcountry, fueled by adventure—focused on both the grand and the miniscule, and couched in the comforts of home.
When the Dixons purchased Winterlake, the lodge was operating as a hunting camp—one of many in Alaska. They took a financial risk by ceasing all hunting, and instead made a commitment to fostering sustainable adventure. In doing so, they became pioneers in their own right, offering an Alaska wilderness experience that has nothing to do with hunting. During the two decades since, bears, moose, beavers, wolves, loons, swans, and river otters have returned to the area in remarkable numbers.
Winterlake Lodge also helps perpetuate Alaskan heritage by serving as the Finger Lake checkpoint for the annual Iditarod dogsled race. The lodge is home to approximately 20 sled dogs, and guests in the winter are invited to attend the lodge's reputable dog-mushing school and participate in a timeless Alaskan tradition.
Guests who reserve their space through National Geographic Unique Lodges enjoy the exclusive opportunity to join a guide for a private morning photo excursion. Rise early and set out before breakfast to photograph wildlife engaged in their morning rituals and capture the mountains set aglow at dawn.
Land stewardship is a major tenet of the Winterlake experience, and the owners and staff espouse it through conservation, environmental consciousness, and rehabilitation. Guests are invited to join conversations about the local ecology, natural resources, and the preservation and historical significance of this area. The lodge's off-grid location requires conservation practices including water and fuel-saving techniques, recycling, and gardening. The lodge’s parent company, Within the Wild, is committed to finding and putting into practice new sustainability efforts annually. For example, Winterlake Lodge is currently rehabilitating a local sockeye salmon spawning stream that has been dammed by beavers.
In addition, the lodge has taken on the task of cleaning up abandoned hunting, fishing, and trapping sites around the area, many of which have been left behind to rust and are often filled with garbage. They have taken out many planeloads of old debris, clearing the landscape of these abandoned camps and their trash.
Outside, Carl Dixon named Top 5 Wilderness Guides (2015)
National Geographic Traveler, Best Hotels in Western U.S., 2011
Forbes, The World's Most Remote Hotels, 2010
Outside, Best Mancations, 2012
Men's Journal, Trips of a Lifetime and 100 Greatest Adventure lists, 2003
Travel + Leisure, The World's Most Remote Hotels, 2010
USA Today, 10Best, Best Hotels in Anchorage, 2014
Gayot.com, Top Remote Hotels Worldwide, 2012
Food & Wine, America's Wildest Hotels, 2012
Worthly.com, World's Most Remote Luxury Hotels, 2015
PBS, Great Lodges: Adventure Lodges of North America, 2008
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