Before you read this post know that I gave great pause before putting this to internet paper and sharing it on the interwebs. There are times when things are best shared by word of mouth, this might be one of those times, so I will choose my words carefully
We heard from a friend, who shall remain unnamed (to protect the innocent), that there was a bar inside Denali it just isn’t advertised and you have to know how to get there. In other words, someone who has been before has to tell you how to get there. Even knowing how to get there we had a very difficult time finding it. We wandered around the area that we thought it was located and were about to give up until I saw a light in the distance with a little chalk board that had ‘The Spike’ written on it.
It is affectionately named ‘The Spike’ for the Golden Spike that is inside the bar. The patrons will try and convince you to ring the Golden Spike and I will let you find out what happens for yourself, all I can tell you is that when it happens it is very exciting and a lot of people are very happy.
The bar seems to be run by Aramark, the park concessionaire, and is basically for the Aramark employees that work in the park. My guess is that the idea is that they would rather have their employees grab a couple of beers within walking distance of their cabins than have them driving into Healy to throw back some pints, they also get to make a little bit of money off it.
There are a couple of things that should be noted about ‘The Spike’. If you go, people will know that you heard about it from someone else. They are the regulars; the employees and the people that make the place run. So be polite. More importantly, strike up a conversation. Some of these folks have worked in Denali for years and have great stories to share.
The food in ‘The Spike’ is exactly what you need after a hike, although I will say it seems that Aramark simply opened the freezers and let them make what they please, it’s things like tater tot nachos and sandwiches. If you haven’t had tater tot nachos, I recommend that you change that.
The decorations of The Spike really make the place. It seems that most of them have been gathered in what is called a trapline. Traplines are things that trappers have. They have a line of traps and they have to go down the line checking all of their traps to see what they have caught, ideally they will have something on each trap to take home. A ‘Trapline’ at The Spike is very different; to take part and complete a ‘Trapline’ participants have to grab a drink at every establishment in the surrounding area. They also have to take something from each said bar, so that they can prove that they were there. The final stop on the ‘Trapline’ is The Spike, where participants bring their wares and revel in their success. Obviously, you would want to get a designated driver if you are going to attempt a ‘Trapline’, while I did not attempt, I would also not recommend it.