Kirsten Dixon: Within The Wild Adventure Co. (Alaska)
Kirsten and Carl Dixon met while working at a hospital in Anchorage. Within two years they'd married, left their medical careers, and moved to a remote cabin on five acres on the Yentna River. There they began leading salmon fishing tours with Carl as guide and Kirsten as cook. In 1983 they built their first guest lodge. "In the beginning, we lived very much the way homesteaders did," says Kirsten Dixon. "We didn't even have running water."
Today, the Dixon family owns ands operates two remote luxury lodges in Alaska: Tutka Bay on the Kenai Peninsula and Winterlake Lodge near Denali National Park. Their company, Within the Wild, serves up authentic wilderness experiences alongside creature comforts like gourmet cuisine, yoga classes, and complimentary massage. Carl, along with a small staff of professional guides and naturalists, continues to lead fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing excursions for guests. "It's his love of the Alaskan wilderness and his desire to share that love with others that is the heart and soul of our company," says Dixon.
Both of the couple's grown daughters left Alaska to attend university and lived elsewhere for a period. They eventually came home to work in the family business. Carly, who worked at a fishing lodge in Western Russia, now works as manager of Winterlake Lodge. Mandy, who attended culinary school, is the executive chef, overseeing the culinary programs at both lodges.
The Dixon's lodges are far off the beaten tourist tract, and their price point is not within everyone's reach, but Dixon contends that they're trying to do something different. "We've worked very hard at staying small and intimate and offering a destination with a very high degree of integrity in terms of a true wilderness setting," she says. "Our adventure excursions take guests where literally no human has ever been before."