What is "Ultima Thule?"

The ancient Greeks used the name “Ultima Thule” to describe the unknowable realm beyond the northern bounds of their maps.

Pronounce it like this: 'Ultimah Toolie'


“Traveller! in what realms afar                                                  In what planet, in what star,

In what vast, aerial space,
Shines the light upon thy face?

In what gardens of delight
Rest thy weary feet to-night?”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
from his book Ultima Thule, 1880


Ultima Thule is a place to gather family and friends, or to visit alone and discover kinship with other travelers. “People come alone, and they connect,” says Donna Claus. “People come here with friends and family, and they go away with memories they will literally never forget.”

“Every soul yearns to explore. To see new places and do new things – something so unique you can’t even explain it to other people. When you come here, this is the real thing.”

“Dad, can I borrow the plane?”

When you raise a family 100 miles from the nearest road, you do things a little differently. The Claus family backyard is 13 million acres of the most remote wilderness on earth.

The Clauses are a family of adventurers, with this land in their hearts, in their blood. Three generations have grown up here. They know this land. They love it. And they love to share it.

The Claus Family Homesteads

It was Grandpa John Claus who first settled at Ultima Thule. In 1958, John was a schoolteacher in Anchorage. But his passion for the wilderness drove him to the cockpit of his very first plane, an early Piper Cub similar to the Super Cubs used at the lodge today.

By 1960 he had fallen in love with this patch of land by the Chitina, a hundred miles from the nearest road. He staked a claim under the Alaskan Homestead Act, and was granted five acres if he could make any use of it.

“These 5 acres were mine,” says John with a smile. “With a 13 million acre backyard.”

Armed only with axes, John and two Athabaskan Eskimo friends built the first log cabin by the shore of the Chitina. Over the years the river flooded twice, and the settlement moved farther up the side of the mountain. Ultima Thule has grown – it now offers all the luxury and hospitality of civilization to travelers in the deepest wilderness. But those same, hand-hewn logs still form part of the main lodge, the primal heart beating at Ultima Thule.

In 1982, newly married, John and Eleanor’s son Paul, along with his wife Donna, made the land their permanent home and began building the lodge.

In the years since, they’ve raised three children here on the land. Ellie, Jay, and Logan have grown up in this home in the wilderness. They’ve learned to hike, fish and live off the land. All 3 are pilots and experienced wilderness guides, who have taken the reins as the next generation of Clauses to welcome guests to this remote patch of paradise.

Meet Your Hosts

John and Eleanor Claus

Donna Claus

Paul Claus

Ellie Gray

Jay Claus

Ben Gray

Logan Claus

The Extended Family

Our Alaskan Lodge


All the Comforts of Home


In Other Words...