Learn More About Ma Johnson’s Historic Hotel

Ma Johnson's Hotel Exterior Porch

Ma Johnson's Hotel Exterior Porch


You are invited to stay in the center of one of the most preserved mining towns of Alaska’s early pioneering days.  We will always endeavor to make your stay with us the best experience of your visit to our great land of Alaska.

Ma Johnson’s and Lancaster’s Hotel are the only rooms available in the town of McCarthy. All other hotels, B&B’s, cabins, hostels or campgrounds are located between 1.5 and 5 miles away from downtown McCarthy.  If you choose just one unique hotel experience for your trip to Alaska, the Ma Johnson’s should be your choice. It is the highlight of accommodations for any visitor lucky enough to discover this area of Alaska.

Each room is unique and decorated with interesting artifacts from McCarthy & Kennicott. The authenticity of the property balances nicely with custom, Alaskan made amenities exclusive to Ma Johnson’s such as custom bathrobes, handmade soaps, spa slippers, Egyptian high thread count linens, and much more.

Ma Johnson's Bedroom

Ma Johnson's Bedroom

The bedrooms feature historic artifacts, fabric covered walls, and original hand made quilts. Most of the rooms have pedestal sinks. The hotel lobby is a faithful period room that is sure to induce a feeling of stepping back in time.  The second story rooms have views of the mountains and look down on the historic town of McCarthy. There are no TV’s or phones in the rooms. Our hotel, as well as all our other historic buildings, are completely non-smoking.  There are no outlets in the rooms, but there are electric lights and outlets for CPAP systems and charging batteries throughout the building.  This is because the historic building did not have outlets for appliances that did not exist in 1920′s Alaska!   Somehow the mix of the eclectic post Victorian sensibility, the old fashioned original furnishings and the modern needs of guests today are met with style and comfort in a unique setting.

We also have the McCarthy Rose House, which is part of the Ma Johnson’s Hotel.  This “annex” to the main hotel features 4 bedrooms and a private bathroom and common area. The rooms are shared bath, however there is 1 bathroom for every two bedrooms, and most rooms have sinks with hot/cold running water. You are always 1 door from the bathroom.

Ida Johnson, on back of the sled

Ida Johnson, on back of the sled

The hotel is kept spotlessly clean. This small hotel has very few rooms (the first floor has 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, the second floor has 10 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms) and the annex with 4 private rooms and a bathroom is a bungalow-style home on the main street of McCarthy.

Many of our staff live in McCarthy – Meeting locals is something that is hard to do in larger Alaskan destinations. Our friendly staff and the fact that our town is so small and relatively undiscovered helps us get to know you – and you get to meet real Alaskans who live in a beautiful setting in the very center of America’s largest National Park.


The hotel building was built in 1923, and opened by Pete & Ma Johnson as a boarding house. (The Johnson’s first hotel – The McCarthy Hotel – burned down on Friday the 13th, 1921 from a cigarette smoker.) No one knew Ma’s real first name (Ida) until her obituary was published, and until 2009, no photos of Ma Johnson had ever been found. We do have plenty of stories about Pete and Ma Johnson from the several newspapers that were produced in McCarthy from 1911 to 1938.


Ida Johnson & the Kennicott River Spout from Hidden Lake

Pete & Ma Johnson had a spectacular hotel for its day. Steam heat, electricity, and fresh eggs were all luxuries in any city in 1923. Next door was a dressmaker’s shop. McCarthy was a boom town and Ma Johnson’s place was an integral part of the community.

While the town was mostly abandoned from the early 1940’s to the early 70’s, there was always at least 1 person living in McCarthy.  We began the full restoration of our properties in 2001. Since then we have endeavored to create an authentic experience that is true to the town’s past. No, we don’t dress in costume, but we do live here even in the winter. The artifacts in Ma Johnson’s Hotel are from the towns of McCarthy & Kennicott – nothing is from an antique store. Today, our guests enjoy relaxing in comfort, much as guests in the 1920’s did.

You know you are in a special place when you see other visitors to the area asking for tours of the hotel!


If you’re ready to book your unique, authentic Alaskan vacation, click here to make your reservation now !