For many visitors, Alaska is a blur, typically glimpsed from the deck of a cruise ship or perhaps a sightseeing train. The real Alaska, the largest state in the Union, a vast place that redefines the term “wilderness,” is rarely experienced. That’s even truer during Covid-19 times when there are limited ways to visit the 49th state. Most cruise companies, for example, have canceled plans to sail in Alaskan waters in 2021.

However, for a privileged few, there’s a chance to make it happen this year. The new Alaskan Lodge & Flying Adventure from ROAM Adventures is one way to get well off the beaten path and into the glorious back of beyond.

ROAM Adventures is a Canadian company that’s been around for more than three decades (ROAM is Rivers, Oceans, and Mountains) and is helmed by Brian McCutcheon, well-known in the adventure community for his forward-thinking adventure trips.

His Alaskan Lodge & Flying Adventure is a classic, a remote wilderness getaway that offers serious creature comforts, a true antidote for anyone suffering from pandemic cabin fever.

It starts with a flight or a very long car journey from Anchorage to the wilderness outpost of McCarthy. From there you fly into the hosting lodge by small plane. There are no roads or power lines leading to the lodge, Ultima Thule, which also boasts no neighbors and whose tag line is “100 miles from the end of the pavement.”

Ultima Thule is a third-generation lodge runs by the Claus family that sits on the banks of the glacier-fed Chitina River. It lies inside the largest national park in North America, Wrangell-St. Elias, with million-dollar views in every direction from the lodge. Six times the size of Yellowstone, Wrangell-St. Elias contains four major mountain ranges and has nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States.

“This is some of the wildest true wilderness left on the earth,” McCutcheon says. “Prior to this trip, we’ve been able to provide the best awe-inspiring experiences on our Tatshenshini-Alsek expedition, which is what people think Alaska should be. Then I met the Claus clan of Ultima Thule. These folks get it and they operate remotely, which is exactly what we wanted and people want to experience in Alaska. Not cruise terminals and gift shops.”

The lodge is well off the grid yet has 24-hour electricity and running water. Each of the guest cabins is handcrafted and unique. The lodge itself houses the dining room, open kitchen, and a lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Chitina River and mountains to the south. The deck is ideal for stargazing, there’s a fire circle, as well as a cedar sauna and alfresco hot tub. Dining is on fresh Alaskan ingredients, with salmon and wild game harvest locally, and most vegetables and greens are grown in the organic gardens and greenhouses on the property.

One of the hallmarks of this trip is that there is no set itinerary, which ensures that each day will be different. Once you arrive at Ultima Thule, the team designs each participant’s experience based on their fitness and interests.

Piper Super Cub bush planes are the centerpiece of adventures, with daily fly-out drop-offs and flight-seeing adventures. The pilots can fly you up a river valley, land on a sandbar at the edge of a forest, and guide you on a hike that literally no one has ever done before. They may fly you to an abandoned gold mine or set you down to paddle a pack-raft on an alpine lake. The next day you may be landing in the middle of the largest non-polar glacier for an undisturbed view of the earth’s largest massif, Mt Logan. Hike on glaciers, fish for salmon, or fly to the pinnacle of Mount St. Elias. At each day’s end, guests return to the lodge for dinner and a wood-fired sauna.

“The experiences are not canned but evolve around what Mother Nature offers every day,” McCutcheon says. “The tundra-wheeled Super Cub flights are worth the price of admission alone.”

The 5-Day Lodge-based Alaskan Lodge & Flying Adventure from ROAM Adventures is priced at $9,400 USD per person based on double occupancy



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