Stories from Alaska

An insider's journey through Alaska's best kept secrets

All About Talkeetna: Gateway to Denali National Park

Talkeetna is a historic Alaskan town located 2.5 hours from Anchorage and is a great highlight and stopping point between Denali National Park and Anchorage. This small and unique town is nestled at the base of Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) and has a heritage from the days of gold mining. Most of the buildings in Talkeetna date from the early 1900s and are classified as National Historic Sites.

Talkeetna is famous for its unique charm and is loved by locals, many of whom spend their weekends camping on the banks of the nearby Talkeetna River. During the summer, Talkeetna is a bustling mecca of visitors and residents. With amazing views of the Alaskan Range and Denali itself weather permitting, the town is known as the hub of expeditions and groups of mountaineers seeking to summit Denali.

There are plenty of activities to pursue in Talkeetna. If you like more active pursuits, you can go hiking on one of the many nearby hiking trails that Talkeetna offers. You might like the Ultimate Denali Hiking Experience Tour on which you fly by floatplane into Denali National Park, where you and a knowledgeable guide hike in the backcountry of Denali. Or you can decide to do a half day Talkeetna-based fishing trip, where a jet boat will take you to the best fishing holes on the Talkeetna River. Depending on the time of the summer, you can fish for trout, arctic grayling and the various species of salmon.

If you don’t want to be so active but still want to do some sightseeing, you have lots of options. For example, you might like to go on one of the local jet boat tours. During these thrilling rides, you’ll have the opportunity to experience wildlife, folklore and historic sites. Weather depending, you will also have a panoramic view of Denali. And you’ll have the choice of a calm water or even Class IV and V more adventurous whitewater jet tours. All jet boat tours include a quarter-mile nature walk which treats you to an educational display showing you how people used to live in the Alaskan “bush” decades ago.

Devils Canyon Jetboat adventure from Talkeetna.

You also might like a local Talkeetna flightseeing tour to see Denali from a bird’s eye view, really up close. For the full experience, you can choose a glacier landing, where you will land on Denali on top of a glacier where you can walk on ancient ice and explore this majestic mountain on foot.

Flightseeing is an amazing way to see Alaska’s vast landscapes.

After a “once in a lifetime” excursion like this, you’ll love a tasty meal at one of the popular restaurants in downtown Talkeetna. You can taste the microbrews at the Denali Brewing Company, a favorite for locals. They serve fresh, creatively-prepared dishes at affordable prices as well as their award-winning beers. And for dining with a view, pop over to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. There you can enjoy fresh Alaska seafood with panoramic views of the Alaska Range and Denali (on a clear day). If you still have some energy left, end your day with a  drink and tunes from a local Talkeetna band at the Fairview Inn.

Before you leave Talkeetna, you should also make sure to visit the Talkeetna Roadhouse. In the bakery you can find a variety of cinnamon rolls, cookies, cakes, pies and brownies. And don’t forget to bring some with you for the road ahead!

Nagley’s store, Talkeetna, Alaska, AK, USA