Off the Grid
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The hideout: Ultima Thule Lodge, in a tiny village that's so far north, it's run by the Claus family. Really.
Low-tech lowdown: In 1960, John Claus (alas, no relation to the big guy) came to southeast Alaska as a bush pilot and was able to hold on to land even when his 13-million-acre backyard was turned into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Today, his children and grandchildren operate an adventure camp that sits in pure wilderness—100 miles from the end of the road. "We make our own electricity, find our own water, build our own buildings," says Donna Claus. "We are our own city." That is, if you consider eight cabins—each with two bedrooms, a sitting room, and a bathroom—to be a city, and those snowcapped, 18,000-foot peaks to be skyscrapers.
Your new "to do" list:
Notch your own first ascent (or descent, on skis) of one of the nearby mountains.
Enjoy dinner and a show—wild Alaskan salmon and the northern lights
Raft Class III rapids on the glacier-fed Chitina River
The road less traveled: Fly to Anchorage and connect on Alaska Airlines to Valdez, where Ultima Thule's charter plane will pick you up for the two-hour flight to the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Don't forget: Dramamine. The only way in or out of Ultima Thule is by bush plane.
Ultima Thule Lodge
Tel: 907 688 1200
$1,500 per person, per night (four nights, minimum); includes all meals and activities