Site Visit – Tonglen Lake Lodge

We are always looking to expand our multi-day photography options. Before we can add a place to our repertoire, we like to make a visit. For this site visit, we wanted to explore a winter photo retreat option for classic Alaskan lodging near Denali National Park & Preserve. Through networking at an Alaskan travel convention, we met the manager of the Tonglen Lake Lodge and accepted an invitation for a visit.

It would be easy to miss the lodge on your way through the Denali National Park area if you did not know it was there. Tucked away in deep woods away from the Parks Highway, it is completely out of view. Once at the lodge, which consists of a main building, several cabins, a cafe and outdoor entertainment area, there are no other facilities in sight as far as the eye can see. Once in a while, you can hear the yipping of sled dogs in the distance from the nearby kennels of Iditarod champion Jeff King. The lake, covered in virgin snow, spreads out in front of the lodge, providing wide, expansive views of the woods and mountains of the Alaska Range.

In the winter, only the main lodge building is open for use. There is a large living room with a wood burning stove that does a fantastic job of keeping the place warm and cozy. Several rooms are available for guests, and a spacious kitchen capable of supporting large groups. You can either bring your own food of have a local chef cater your meals (we selected the latter option, and the food was fantastic).

We wanted to find a place that would be an ideal winter photo retreat, with access to Denali National Park and wilderness areas for nighttime photography of the aurora borealis or daytime exploring via snow shoes or cross country skis. The Tonglen Lake Lodge provided exactly what we were looking for. There are trails on site to explore, as well as trails at nearby Denali National Park within the first three miles of the park road (the National Park Service only plows the first three miles during years with heavy snow).

We certainly hope to design a winter photo retreat as a multi-day trek in the near future based at Tonglen Lake Lodge. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter so you can learn of the opportunity when we set it up!