FAIRBANKS - Maclaren River Lodge, the one pit stop that is usually open year-round for snowmachiners and dog mushers on the Denali Highway, is closed until Feb. 1.
The lodge, located 42 miles west of Paxson, is a popular rest stop for snowmachiners and dog mushers who travel the 135-mile road between Cantwell on the Parks Highway and Paxson on the Richardson Highway. The Denali Highway is not maintained by the Department of Transportation in the winter.
Owners Alan and Susie Echols closed the lodge on Oct. 15 and will spend the winter in Fairbanks for the first time in about 15 years.
The high price of diesel fuel to power a generator that provides the lodge with its electricity is to blame for the 3 1/2-month closure, Alan Echols said.
“The cost of fuel is what’s making it prohibitive because we keep everything running,” he said. “At $2 a gallon for fuel, we did enough business to make it worth it. But now with the price of fuel you lose money during those three months and all you do is catch up during the good months.
“We’re just trying to cut costs when there’s no business,” Nichols said. “It’s just so dead during those months.”
There will be a caretaker staying at the lodge in the event of an emergency, but the lodge will not be selling fuel or food, Nichols said.
The closure of the lodge also means there won’t be any trail grooming on the highway until late January or early February.
“As soon as we get back in here in late January, we’ll start grooming and breaking things open,” Nichols said.
People can still make reservations to stay at the lodge when it opens in February by calling (907) 322-6632 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.