Lisa Wissinger, who owns Acadia Cottages in Maine with her husband, Gordon, says their eco-friendly destination was inspired by a visit to Camp Denali in Alaska’s Denali National Park. “It is a wonderful place that really encourages and educated on how to ‘get back to nature,’” Lisa says. “It was a life-changing trip for us. Once we came home, we really began to seriously work at being environmentally responsible and were no longer satisfied with living in ‘corporate America’.”
If you’re looking for a paradigm shift of your own, Camp Denali and its sister lodge, North Face, open in June, and close the second week in September, like they have since 1952. Days at the lodges revolve around eco-sensitive tours into the park lead by trained naturalist guides. Nights feature learning sessions. You can time your trip to coincide with visiting experts who will teach guests on topics like energy independence (Johnny Weiss, director of Solar Energy International), climate change (researcher Henry Huntington), and photography (National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg). All this exploring and learning is fueled by the lodge’s kitchens, which feature produce from the lodge’s green houses and jams made from native berries.
All-inclusive rates (transportation to the lodges from the Denali Park Rail Station, meals, activities, lodging) start at $1365 per person for three days. There are also four-night packages ($1820 per person) and week-long stays ($3185). If you’re looking for a simpler vacation, you can rent Hawk’s Nest, a self-catered bunkhouse that sleeps four. There’s no electricity, but there are fabulous views available for $375 per night for four people.
Judging from the guest comments on Camp Denali’s website, the Wissingers aren’t the first (or the last) to be inspired by the place. I know I’ adding it to my eco-travel daydream list!
Photographs from www.campdenali.com.