Savor Beef Wellington in a yurt. Mush a dog team with friends across glacial ice 1,000 feet deep. Lower yourself by rope into a hole in a crevasse. Kayak in a blue lake among icebergs. Some 2,000 visitors a year have been awestruck by adventure such as this at Knik River Lodge in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, 11 miles down the Old Glenn Highway wedged between a braided glacial riverbed and the wall of the Chugach Mountains.
This summer, Dutch lodge owners Peter & Eva Schadee are stepping up the outdoors even more. Soon you can go Glamping. That’s right, glamorous camping, as in sleep on the perfect mattress, under the coziest of down bedding, in a spacious walled tent with a propane fireplace next to a calving glacier spilling into a blue lake at your feet.
The lodge owner will have to helicopter in all your comforts—the carpet, the propane fireplace, the bathroom— to the shore of Lake George, so the $1,000 a night or so price point will reflect such care.
Peter just received a permit from the State’s Department of Natural Resources to set up tents in the inner sanctum of the Chugach Range, as he calls it. His lodge is the only one with such a permit.
The lodge will fly dinner in with you, steak or fish, to be prepared by the resident host & guide. Your own Adirondack chairs will be on a deck waiting for you to kick up your feet in front of the glacier. The Glamping will start out slowly with only two tents for 2015, he said. “We expect to grow this to four or five tents over the next couple of years. I’m sure a lot of people will be interested.”
The lodge’s short season is Mother’s Day to Sept. 15. All the equipment and the walled tents will have to be hauled back via helicopter. “We cannot leave the mattresses there, or probably next spring there’ll be a grizzly hiding in it,” Peter said.
"It’s a wild glacial landscape" Peter Schadee
High-end niche tour companies are now drawn to the lodge. Beginning this summer, one of the top tour companies in the U.S. chose this lodge as a destination over an upscale Anchorage hotel with deep roots. Another company, focusing on adventure cruises included Knik River Lodge in its land program for 2016.
"Dogsledding is our number one selling tour" Peter Schadee
His staff of 14 will increase to 20 this year. On site housing is here for key personnel such as the helicopter pilot and chef, most others are hired locally. Along with the main lodge, Peter is building his wife and 6-year-old son a new house. “We have been living in the laundry shed for seven years.” We are investing $1.7 million this year, Peter said. “That’s quite a significant investment in the local economy.” Peter and his wife own the lodge with three other partners, all Alaskans.
With subcontractors who are experts in their sport, the lodge offers heli-skiing, ice climbing, kayaking & dog mushing on a glacier.
Dogsledding is our number one selling tour, Peter said. The advantage is better weather than in Southeast Alaska, home to most dogsled camps. The small, personal experience of the camp is another big plus. “It’s one helicopter with just four people coming in a couple of times a day instead of a fleet of helicopters, dumping a couple dozen people at the same time. If we have a group or family we can fly back and pick up a couple more people, but there is never more than eight guests on the entire glacier, so it’s a really personal experience.” A super excited sled dog team is waiting for them, with Iditarod musher Rick Casillo of Big Lake and beautiful custom-made sleds that takes visitors in a two-mile loop for an hour with stops for photos along the way.
“People can stand on runners and mush the team or sit in the sled if they want.”
The lodge has entered another niche as base camp for film crews. Al Roker of the “Today Show” stayed in 2011 and showcased his sled dog ride across glacier on national TV. Many commercial and film shoots are done on the Knik and Colony glaciers every year now.
In marketing efforts with the Mat-Su Convention & Visitors Bureau, Peter flew with Iceland Air to Reykjavik last year to develop business from travelers who benefit from the airline’s shorter jump to Alaska from the United Kingdom and northwest Europe. “We received great feedback and already more business from that region,” Peter said.
The Knik River Lodge is a part of the 2007 estimate of $201 million spent annually by visitors in the Mat-Su. Learn about other cool places in the Mat-Su at www.alaskavisit.com
Al Roker of the “Today Show” stayed in 2011
The lodge has entered another niche as base camp for film crews. Al Roker of the “Today Show” stayed in 2011 and showcased his sled dog ride across glacier on national TV. In marketing efforts with the Mat-Su Convention & Visitors Bureau, Peter flew on On Iceland Air last year to develop business from travelers who benefit from the airline’s shorter jump to Alaska from the United Kingdom and northwest Europe. “We received great feedback and already more business from that region,” Peter said.
The Knik River Lodge is a part of the 2007 estimate of $201 million spent annually by visitors in the Mat-Su. Learn about other cool places in the Mat-Su at www.alaskavisit.com.