by Phil Corless
Located 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle, this all-inclusive lodge is the ultimate backcountry experience for adventurous families. The lodge is accessible only by privately chartered plane, which will be arranged for you. They pick you up in Fairbanks and take care of everything after, including meals, guides, fishing licenses, boats, fishing gear and more. The main lodge contains a dining hall, kitchen, lounge, three bedrooms with shared bathroom, and a two-bedroom suite with private bathroom — all with luxurious furnishings and amenities that will surprise and delight you. All meals, desserts, and snacks are freshly prepared by a gourmet chef.
The lodge sits at one end of the 5-mile long Iniakuk Lake on the edge of the Gates of the Arctic National Park. The nearest road is over 100 miles away, so this is the very definition of remote. There is a wide range of customizable activities available to guests, including wildlife viewing, fishing, canoeing, birding, hiking, and float trips. The lodge offers one-of-a-kind excursions into the national park, by boat and by plane, where you can enjoy the most stunning scenery imaginable. You’ll see plenty of wildlife back at the main lodge, including bears, moose and caribou, but even more during a half-day float trip or day of hiking in the Brooks Range. A stay at the Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge is for older kids and adventurous parents. With its luxury accommodations and unique location, it’s the best way to experience Alaska.
Our Editor Loves
- Migrating caribou
- Canoeing on Iniakuk Lake
- Gourmet meals
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Meal Plan
My adult kids and I spent the summer of 2017 at Iniakuk and decided to try out the winter experience this year. You fly into Fairbanks commercially and then take a small bush plane into the Arctic. The trip was to be an expedition-style dog sled trip to a campsite, followed by the Arrigetch cabin on the Alatna River and then returning (4 days on the trail). We were lucky to get into Iniakuk the day we arrived due to a pending storm. The storm hit and lasted two days piling up the snow drifts. There was no way we were going to make it to the campsite and back in the time we had left but that is part of being in the Arctic. You are not in control of the weather and conditions. An open and flexible attitude is important. The good news was that we were safe and warm at the Lodge, we sledded everyday and even got a chance to go into the Gates of the Arctic National Park (which was just named the most remote national park in the US) with our dog teams . The food was out of this world and never disappoints. John and Thom are not only experienced and great guides but also good hosts.
Thom brought 14 dogs up for the season. The first day you learn how to mush and start with 2 dogs so that you begin slow. The dogs go out everyday no matter the weather so the two day storm may have stopped us from venturing out to camp but it did not stop us from enjoying the mushing. The dogs are all business and live to run. There is a lot of cheerful barking when you harness them up but once you are a ways down the trail, they are all focused.
Other activities should you want to do more include snowshoe and skiing. You eat 3 square meals a day that are all fixed fresh and you will never go hungry. There are even fresh baked cookies in the afternoon with appetizers before dinner.
Due to the storm and cloud cover, we only saw the aurora one evening and we were fortunate that it was earlier than normal. John is committed to giving you the experience of the aurora and will monitor through the night every 30 minutes and wake you if they are out. There is a lot of work to do to keep the guests comfortable and happy and John and Thom work hard to keep everything humming from blazing dog sled trails, digging out the solar panels, chopping wood, replenishing water from the lake, feeding and caring for 14 dogs and making sure we are all well fed.
There is no running water but they put hot and cold water in the bathrooms for you to use all day and they will set up the sauna/shower if you want to try it. We love Iniakuk and the Arctic! Its silent beauty and remote location really allow you to take a break from your hectic life and "get off the grid" for a while. It was hard to leave and we plan to go back.
by Ronald W
My husband and I are enjoying seeing our country's beautiful National Parks in retirement. We had the Ultimate Week's Adventure in late August of 2017 staying in both the Caribou Cabin followed by the float down the Alatna River, and the Arrigetch Cabin followed by another float down the Alatna. Imagine seeing a grizzly bear and a beautiful Male moose along the river banks, which probably had never seen a red raft paddling along with humans. We also saw a wolverine loping along Gaedeke lake shore and Caribou migrating south across the lake. We experienced unexpected blizzards in both locations, but had a clear days to hike also. This is a wonderful way to experience the real Gates of the Arctic National Park.
This year we just returned for a 3 day visit starting off with a flight to land on the unusual sand dunes of Kobuk Valley National Park. We had lunch under the wing of the plane and hiked around the dunes photographing special flowers that only grow there. Again we had a clear blue day to experience this wonder of geography. We then relaxed at the lodge for 3 nights and a morning. We canoed 6 miles on the calm crystal clear lake accompanied by 2 species of loons. After lunch, John Gaedeke guided us 2 miles up the Tobuk River in the same canoe to 2 ponds, one of which is bright turquoise after being dammed up by beavers for several decades. We witnessed one of the busy little guys swimming to and fro and then we floated back down to the lodge. The next day John took us on a hike to Rocky Knoll, which gave us a beautiful view of the lodge and the river and flat lands behind the lodge, now used for mushing in the winter. He also motor boated us around the entire lake and we walked along a trapper's trail. Of course, we see evidence of moose and bear on these hikes.
The food is superb. Pat and John really care and try to give you the best experiences they can depending on the weather. Conversation is stimulating as their own life experiences are unique interfacing with people from many places. If you just imagine the work and planning that it took to build these cabins as a family, survive in the wilderness, and then to continue to maintain them for their customers; you will be filled with appreciation. You can experience a raw, remote serene wilderness in comfort with an adventurous spirit.
We always feel safe with John as our guide. He is very knowledgeable and skilled in everything one needs to know about living and enjoying in the wilderness. We also felt safe with the pilots of Brooks Range Aviation and Wright Air to transport us from and back to Fairbanks.
Our times at the Iniakuk Lodge and on our excursions with the Gaedekes are etched in our memories as one of the highest ranked vacations we have ever experienced. If I need to draw upon a serene moment, I can envision the peace and solitude during a white blizzard, or waking up to loons calling to each other along a gorgeous clear lake surrounded by mountains. This is a magical place and we are very blessed to have been able to experience these places with Pat and John Gaedeke showing us the way. They will always feel like friends to us because they care so deeply.