USA The luxury of unspoiled wilderness at Winterlake Lodge By Mary Pemberton / March 09, 2017 Share 1 Winterlake Lodge is 198 miles northwest of Anchorage on the western edge of the Alaska Range. Photo Credit: Jeff Schultz -- Winterlake Lodge has good linens, fine wines, gourmet food, great service and lots of fun and exciting things to do. But it is what's outside its doors that truly makes it a luxury destination.The lodge, located 198 trail miles northwest of Anchorage, is reachable by small plane. It sits on 15 acres, overlooking a lake on the western edge of the majestic Alaska Range, surrounded by gorgeous expanses of untainted wilderness.Winterlake is open Jan. 20 to April 30 and again from June 1 to Oct. 1."When guests come to stay with us, they tend to leave all that big world where it is and come to Winterlake and have a deep sense of place there," said owner Kirsten Dixon, a pioneer of gourmet cooking in Alaska's backcountry who attended culinary school at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and holds a master's degree in gastronomy from the University of Adelaide in Australia. "We are our own little universe."Dixon runs the lodge with her husband, Carl, who has spent the past 40 years exploring the natural world and heads the lodge's outdoor adventure program. Their daughters, Mandy and Carly, also are involved in the business.The Dixons also operate Tutka Bay Lodge on the Kenai Peninsula, open from May to mid-September. Vacation packages can be arranged to include stays at both lodges. Both lodges recently became members of Virtuoso's preferred hotel network and are also in National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World collection.Dixon said even in Alaska, the unspoiled beauty that surrounds Winterlake Lodge is becoming harder to find. She delights telling guests that when they step from the lodge's excursion helicopter to take in a gorgeous vista they are likely the first person to stand in that spot."The natural world is the new luxury," Dixon said.Winterlake is situated on the historical Iditarod Trail. During winter season, the lodge offers winter activities such as sled dog tours, mushing instruction, cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, snowshoe expeditions, heli-skiing and snowmobiling.The lodge is home to 20 Alaskan huskies, the same breed used in the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that begins early March in Anchorage. The frozen lake in front of the lodge is the fourth checkpoint for the race.In summer and early fall, activities at the Winterlake turn to kayaking, fly-fishing, helicopter rides, rafting and hiking.For those who enjoy more indoor-based activities there are cooking classes, yoga, massage, birch basket-making classes and pingpong tournaments, or guests can just sit by the fire with a good book. Great food is central to the Winterlake Lodge experience. Dixon has published several cookbooks, including the award-winning "Winterlake Lodge Cookbook." The lodge specialties include cold-smoked salmon with rhubarb syrup and a dark chocolate blackberry tart. Then there are the Winterlake standards, including duck confit and rhubarb chutney. The dinner menu is posted daily and is determined by what's in season, organic and locally sourced. King salmon is always available, and many of the herbs and vegetables come from Dixon's garden.One of Dixon's favorite things is sitting around the lodge's large dining table and sharing stories with her guests."People at the end of the day just want to be part of what we are doing … to become part of our story," she said. "We have the advantage of just being in our living room and the whole world comes to us. We have met such incredible people." Winterlake Lodge's 2017 rates begin at $5,015 per person for a three-night stay. More information can be found at www.withinthewild.com.Winterlake Lodge is located 198 trail miles northwest of Anchorage, not 98 miles as noted in a previous version of this article.