Just as important as the participation of the owners in the day-to-day operation of the business, is the tremendous effort of 42 summertime staff and four year-round staff that the lodges require for their smooth functioning. Our seasonal staff comes from throughout Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawai'i, and abroad. In the off-season, they may be found on the local pond hockey rink, at the South Pole, and anywhere in between in the pursuit of travel, education, work and fun. Working at Camp Denali and North Face Lodge is not for the faint of heart; it requires a commitment to work hard and be a participatory member of a small, close-knit, self-sufficient community. We find ourselves grateful year after year to work alongside of such a diverse, interesting, and dedicated group of individuals.
Alaska was always a far away place that seemed very foreign to Hannah. As a recreational enthusiast living in Iowa, she traveled far and wide in the Lower 48 to find the little bits of nature that soothe the soul, but Alaska took her breath away. Hannah arrived in 2010 to work as a naturalist guide for Camp Denali & North Face Lodge, and it was love at first sight. Since that first summer, Hannah has come to call Denali National Park and Camp Denali her home. This winter she is testing her love for Alaska, and the cold and dark conditions found in abundance, as a handler for a family-run dog mushing kennel right here in Denali. She is making close friends with the 29 sled dogs living right outside her door. Like so many others, Hannah has realized that while the community of people living here year round is small, what is lacked in quantity is made up for in quality. She has discovered the hidden beauties of Denali’s winter, which only show themselves to those willing to brave the cold, darkness and splendor of this frozen, still wonderland.
We are fortunate to work with a hardy few who have committed to brave the cold, dark days and nights of winter to work with us year-round. These four are essential to our business, and the people whom you will most likely speak with when calling our office. On any given winter morning, you would see them out at -20F, bundled beyond recognition, as they bike, ski or walk their way to our winter office in the protracted darkness. As business owners, we feel extremely fortunate to be able to attract a few good people to work with us year-round who, like we do, feel privileged to live and work in the heart of the Alaska Range, on the edge of this magnificent wilderness park.
Laurie fell in love with The Great Land while putting her biology degree to use as a naturalist guide in Southeast Alaska during the summers of 1998-2000. Wanting to explore Alaska's interior, she moved north to Camp Denali and North Face Lodge to work as a naturalist guide for the summers of 2001-2003. During those winters, she earned a masters degree in environmental studies. After ten years directing the Wild Rockies Field Institute in Missoula, Montana, Laurie returned to Camp Denali in 2013 as Program Manager (and a naturalist guide!). She is now part of the year round crew and oversees the naturalist staff, coordinates our Special Emphasis Series, and partners with the National Park Service. Laurie is dedicated to providing guests with a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a premier location in one of North America’s most stunning landscapes. Laurie, her husband and two sons migrate between summers in Denali and winters in Missoula where they get their basketball fix and take pleasure in life in a university town.
After taking a few years to indulge her deep-seated wanderlust, MJ is excited to return to the year-round staff and her home in Denali. Originally hailing from northern Virginia, MJ received her degree in International Relations from Michigan State University and remains a loyal Spartan. She discovered Denali National Park in the summer of 2003, fell in love immediately, and promptly found her niche in the seasonal lifestyle. She first worked as our Reservations Coordinator from 2006-2011 and now returns after spending four summers as a tour director throughout Alaska. During recent winters, she has traveled the globe to teach English, do yoga, snowboard, and sit on exotic beaches with cows. When she’s not headed somewhere on an airplane, you’ll likely find her playing guitar, crocheting an afghan, watching her TV hero, MacGyver, or skiing around the neighborhood.
Teresa was born and bred in Minnesota, spending every summer of her life exploring the Boundary Waters of the northwoods and developing a passion for wilderness areas. She landed in Alaska for the first time in 2011 when she guided a six-week backpacking trip in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That experience motivated her two years later to pack up her car and make a permanent move to the land of the midnight sun (or daytime darkness). She received her degree in Business Administration from UW-Madison with a goal to apply her background to an organization dedicated to environmental stewardship. She found this unique niche as our Sales & Marketing Manager. Teresa finds endless enjoyment in the winter with 14 sled dogs, five puppies and one pitbull to have adventures with, be it mushing in Denali or playing in snow drifts. When temperatures drop below -20°F, she is content with staying inside her cabin with hot chocolate and a knitting project.
Ashley first arrived at Camp Denali and North Face Lodge in the summer of 2008. It was during that season that she became captivated by the vast landscape, tall peaks, unique wildlife, and exceptional community. She grew up in Tallahassee, Florida surrounded by rolling hills, oak, pine, and palmetto trees. She has since traded in that environment for the diverse terrain and snow that the year round staff enjoy each winter. She received her degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University and has worked in Operations and Human Resources. Having had the experience of working for worldwide hospitality companies, Ashley has always had the goal of returning to a small lodge with an ecotourism concentration. This winter, Ashley plans to immerse herself in the winter community, bake, quilt and learn how to cross country ski.
Each May when we swing into high gear, one of the great joys is always the opportunity to welcome back returning seasonal staff, as well as the chance to meet the newcomers in person, and introduce them to this park that we all call home for part or all of the year.