by Phil Corless
Located on the beautiful Naknek River, this award-winning fishing lodge allows you to design an adventure package just for your family. The two private cabins, made of massive logs and river rock, can sleep up to six guests in two bedrooms, each with a queen bed and a loft with two twin beds. Families will love having three bathrooms in the morning! Your cabin also has a spacious sitting area and a covered outdoor porch overlooking the river. Cabins are connected to the main lodge by a boardwalk. Fresh, gourmet meals are served family-style in the dining room. The lodge also contains a state-of-the-art fitness center, laundry room, gift shop, and a game room with board games, darts, pool table and foosball.
Crystal Creek Lodge is 5 miles east of the small town of King Salmon, which is only accessible by plane. Although the lodge specializes in fishing adventures, it offers a wide range of other activities. Kids will love beachcombing on an isolated beach that hasn’t seen human footprints for years. They’ll also marvel at the Pacific Walruses during a wildlife viewing excursion to the Alaska Peninsula. You can also choose to hike in a national park, kayak the river, or visit Brooks Falls to view bears. Relaxing back at the lodge, you can soak in the outdoor hot tub or get a massage from the licensed massage therapist. Crystal Creek Lodge is the right mix of luxury and wilderness adventure for a memorable family vacation in Alaska.
Our Editor Loves
- Game room
- Outdoor screened hot tub
- Kayaking on the Naknek River
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Meal Plan
Location is right on the Naknek River just a couple of miles from King Salmon and its airport. My son and I stayed in a 2 bed, 2 bath cabin located about 100' from the main lodge. It was gorgeous---very well appointed. The meals and bar were in the main lodge. The chef, Brian, was extremely creative and the food quality was outstanding. They have a terrific wine and liquor selection and the prices are fair., and quite a bit of booze is included. The public areas in the lodge were very comfortable and extremely well appointed. Although it would be hard to out do the physical facility, their staff was even more outstanding. Everyone was extremely knowledgeable and friendly and helpful.
It was an extremely small thing, but shows their attention to every detail; they had umbrellas by the door to our cabin and the door from the lodge for our use. They supplied them even though it was a very short walk and only 1 cabin.
Dan Michels is a genius. From the very first moments I spent at the Crystal Creek Lodge I knew I was about to experience something very special. After our first dinner in the lodge with Mr. Michels I had the sense that he is a living legend in his peer group of lodge operators. After our group spent the day with him during our non fishing “adventure” day as he piloted his BOW (Beaver on wheels) I can at least confirm his skills as a pilot, host, and even historian. He landed his BOW in the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, as surreal moonscape of a 106 year old volcanic cataclysm. As we rested on a now long dormant fumarole he pulled out a first edition National Geologic Survey book about the eruption and read contemporaneous first hand native American accounts of the eruption. Amazing!!
CCL runs the largest flight of Beavers in Alaska. The planes are meticulously cared for and are the mechanical heart of the lodge experience. I’m told pilots are some of the most experienced working in the state.
The accommodations are Alaska’s version of the Ritz. The lodge was recently rebuilt on its current location on the Naknek River. “First class” only scratches the surface of how nice the lodge is. The lodge is decorated with some museum quality artifacts that Mr. Michels has collected during his life in Alaska. Each one has a story more fascinating than the next.
The food! Don’t plan on losing any weight while at CCL. Surf and turf night was particularly spectacular. Since it is really 2 main entrees we only received one of the traditional 2 deserts severed after every dinner. The chef, who was recruited from one of Chicago’s finest restaurants announces each course. The wine list is impeccable and compliments each meal like you would expect from a Michelin starred restaurant. And the chef does not even fish; I believe he came to CCL for the opportunity, challenge and free reign to create a world class dining experience in one of the most beautiful and wild places left in the world.
I guess I should mention the fishing. The fishing and the guides are the best in Alaska. Ok, I don’t really know that for sure but I think it would be hard to find a better team of fishing guides in a more productive salmon/trout ecosystem anywhere in Alaska. Each night Alex, the fishing master of ceremonies, helps your group plan the next day’s adventure. You meet your pilot and guides in the morning and fly out to a new river or lake location targeting your fish of choice. One day they packed inflatable rafts into the Beaver and we fished a beautiful lake before rafting down the river for more fishing and an Alaskan wilderness river rafting experience. And do not fret if you are a novice at casting a fly rod as they will teach you right on the river. My friend came with zero fly fishing experience and caught more and larger fish than I did. I did happened to catch a monster 45 inch pike that I will never forget.