Sheldon Chalet, Alaska
So what, exactly, is a nunatak? You’re set to find out as your helicopter leaves the low-lying pine forests of Alaska’s Denali National Park behind and turns to enter the extraordinary natural amphitheatre that surrounds the Sheldon Chalet. As you touch down – with a glass of champagne on arrival as crisp as the fresh snow all around – you’re on the nunatak, the enormous outcrop of rock on which the steel, glass and wood chalet sits.
Once there, you survey an awe-inspiring bowl of 35 square miles, topped in almost every direction by razor-sharp ridges and sheer rock faces. It’s the slightly unnerving landscape, brilliant white under snow apt to cascade in dramatic, thunderous avalanches, that you’ll be exploring. Don’t worry, though; they cater for all levels of daring, starting with exhilarating glacier treks and sledging to rappelling and a mini mountaineering ropes course.
Even igloo-building lessons – yes, really. Or you can explore the area from the air as your chopper flies you through 10-mile long gorges, and buzzes the 20,000ft summit of Delani mountain itself.
This Alaskan hideaway, with all the drama of a James Bond villain’s secret lair, has adventurousness shot through it, as it was conceived in the 1960s by explorer Don Sheldon and his wife Roberta, and finally made real this year by his ambitious son Robert, along with sister Kate and wife Marne.
The interior of the Chalet is the polar opposite of the white-out wilderness beyond, with cosy, sumptuous comfort abounding and an on-site chef constantly dishing up – hearty breakfasts, homemade afternoon cookies, and Alaskan seafood suppers in the evening.
The light plays on the snowscape all day long, and there’s a strong chance you’ll see the Aurora Borealis dancing across the skies, giving the impression that you really are part of an animated fantasy.
At A Glance…
- Sheldon Chalet is set in its own private 5 acres of Denali National Park, Alaska. It is only accessible by helicopter, a grand part of the Sheldon experience.
- Sheldon Chalet can host up to 10 guests in 5 bedrooms for a ‘Shared Experience’ where you will join other guests or an ‘Exclusive Experience’ where you have the whole 5 acres for your party to enjoy.
- We recommend staying for 3 nights 4 days here. There is plenty to do from gourmet glacier pricnics and glacier treks to Aurora viewing and star and meteor shower gazing.
Why 360 Loves It…
- We were amused by one New Yorker review of Sheldon Chalet; she stocked up her Kindle with books and music, expecting to find the isolation wearing, and she left having hardly taken a photo because she became so lost in exploration.
- The possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis when staying here is extremely high. The best time to see this natural phenomenon is from mid-September to mid-April.
- The Private Hot Springs Tour is an all-day helicopter adventure flying north from Sheldon deep into the Alaskan wilderness to view wildlife, before landing at a secret location for a dip in hot springs.