As this year's aurora season unfolds in Alaska, two new lodges present memorable options for in-room northern lights viewing and outdoor adventures.
Sheldon Chalet, a luxury inn that opened in early 2018, is tucked on a rocky outpost above the Don Sheldon Amphitheater on Denali's Ruth Glacier. The property's remote, northern location at 6,000 feet of elevation means dark night skies ideal for stargazing and aurora watching. On clear nights, the colors of the northern lights reflect off glaciers and snowy peaks circling the resort.
Guests can catch the aurora and watch for shooting stars from one of the property's five guestrooms overlooking the neighboring Alaska Range. Each is outfitted with modern furnishings and nature-inspired design accents. Sofas, lounge chairs and a stone fireplace make the main-floor living space another comfortable option for late-night sky gazing, and travelers can bundle up and watch from the lodge's outdoor observation decks, as well.
During the daylight hours, Sheldon Chalet is a convenient home base for winter adventure. In addition to exploring the 5-acre property on snowshoes or skis, guests can book guided snow cave outings, hot springs excursions and igloo-building experiences. Heli-tours, fixed-wing flightseeing, glacier treks and other activities capitalize on the resort's scenic location bordered by Denali National Park and Preserve.
Sheldon Chalet's winter rates start at $2,300 per person, per night, and include helicopter transit to and from the property (flights depart from Anchorage or Talkeetna) plus accommodations, guide services, concierge support and meals featuring Alaska-sourced ingredients and drinks.
Set about 25 miles north of Fairbanks, Borealis Basecamp is designed around some of Alaska's most iconic winter attractions. The resort opened in late 2017, and it features heated fiberglass domes clustered on 5 acres of boreal forest a few minutes off the Elliott Highway.
Borealis Basecamp accommodations line a tranquil ridge overlooking the White Mountains and Wickersham Dome.
Like Sheldon Chalet, Borealis Basecamp makes the most of an off-the-grid, off-the-beaten-path location that is far from city lights. Cozy accommodations here line a tranquil ridge overlooking the White Mountains and Wickersham Dome.
Based on initial demand, Borealis Basecamp is expanding its total dome count to 15 by late November. A larger yurt with wide picture windows will also be available for overnight guests and private small-group events later this year.
Comfortable, simple and chic, the interiors are equipped with beds, full bathrooms and basic kitchenette facilities, including a sink, refrigerator and hot water pot for coffee and tea. The centerpiece of each dome is a curved, 16-foot window extending across the roof. Guests can view the northern lights without leaving their beds, or step outside to a private deck to watch the show.
After opening a new central lodge with a commercial kitchen in October, Borealis Basecamp will introduce options for pre-aurora viewing wine dinners. Travelers can book northern lights viewing parties (from $35 per person) and nighttime photography classes (from $175 per person), as well.
By day, Borealis Basecamp guests rent snowshoes and explore trails that extend from the heart of the property. The resort also partners with local operators to offer seasonal dog mushing, dog cart, snow machine and all-terrain vehicle outings for a separate fee.
Borealis Basecamp rates start at $389 per dome, per night (maximum double occupancy), with a two-night minimum stay required. Breakfast is included; lunch and dinner packages are also available.
Alaska's aurora borealis season continues through mid-April.