Talkeetna, Alaska is one of my favorites… It has something, something special. There’s the appeal on the surface; it’s a small, charming town on the edge of the wilderness. It also has a spectacular view of Denali, or Mt. McKinley (North America’s tallest peak at 20,320 ft). It’s right at the meeting of 3 major Alaska rivers: the Susitna, the Chulitna, and the Talkeetna.
Why should you visit? Where should you stay? Where you should you eat? What are the sights to see?
I already mentioned that Talkeetna is one of my favorites in Alaska, but why?
Well, first off, it’s a great small town, on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness… win! And it’s just a short 70 mile trip from our house in the Valley, or 115 miles from Anchorage, so it’s an easy day trip for most people.
Secondly, it has a great, relaxed vibe. People here really seem to enjoy the slower pace of life. You know, those “stop and smell the roses” type of people.
It also has a slight “hippy-meets-granola-meets-bush-Alaska” feel, if that makes sense. I’ve always leaned a little toward the hippy and granola side of things myself, so it’s an awesome fit for me. Maybe you don’t like that though… Not to worry, there are tons of nice cafes, art galleries and sights for all to enjoy.
It’s also a great place for our family to come together. It’s nice and flat(read: kid walking and stroller friendly) with amazing views, great kid-friendly restaurants and the riverside to have a nice afternoon picnic with romping.
Talkeetna is also a mountain-climbing town!
Mountain Climbing Talkeetna
Another great thing about Talkeetna is that it’s the main hub for anyone attempting to summit Denali. Every climber has to pass through the Talkeetna NPS ranger station. This makes Talkeetna a pretty happening place for mountaineers. In fact, you’ll see signed summit and climbing team flags all over the place here, decorating cafes, restaurants and inns alike.
In fact, one of the unofficial motto of the town reads: Talkeetna, Alaska… A quaint little drinking town with a climbing problem. I love it! And speaking of drinking…
Talkeetna and Beer
I know that sounds a little funny, but Alaskans in general have a deep appreciation for beer (and coffee, but that’s another story altogether). Talkeetna is no exception. There’s a great little brewery here, the Denali Brewing Company. They make several fantastic beers: raspberry, blueberry, apricot, Chuli stout, and many more! If you love beer (and I don’t mean the yellow, watery kind), stop by and try the local fair! There’s a great restaurant attached to the brewery, Twister Creek, that’s definitely a great spot to grab some lunch or dinner.
Where to Eat
In addition to Twister Creek, there’s several other great spots to eat in Talkeetna. Here’s a few of our favorites that you should definitely try…
I love the Talkeetna Roadhouse (I’m sitting there right now, so good). Their cinnamon rolls are so good, and pretty legendary here in Alaska. They also have a great breakfast and lunch menu.
Mountain High Pizza Pie… Period. Amazing pizzas! We love it, and our kids do to. We stop there every time we come to Talkeetna. In fact, I think I’ll head there for lunch today.
There’s also the West Rib Pub. They were featured on the tv show “Man vs Food”, with their monstrous burger, Seward’s Folly. They have great burgers and a pretty good selection of local beers as well.
Where to Stay in Talkeetna
I highly recommend Susitna River Lodge. They have several individual cabins along the Susitna River, as well as rooms in the lodge. Their rates are affordable and it’s always a treat to stay there. The owners are amazing hosts who love living in Talkeetna.
Talkeetna Roadhouse also has rooms and cabins available for rent. And, you can’t go wrong staying somewhere with a great bakery and cafe attached.
Another popular place to stay is the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. It closes down for the winter, but it has a great view of Denali and is an awesome luxury lodge. We haven’t stayed there personally, but it is a very popular choice.
What to Do in Talkeetna
There are a few things you have to do while you’re in Talkeetna…
You should definitely do a flight-seeing tour of Denali. We flew with K2 Air, and I would definitely recommend them. It is a little on the expensive side, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget! I had the privilege of flying with my grandfather, and it was amazing. Seriously, completely breathtaking. Denali definitely looks huge from a distance, but when you get up close to it, flying through the canyons and glaciers and cliffs around it, it’s like a whole different world.
You should also park down at the end of Main Street and walk down to Susitna River for a great view of Denali. The Susitna is such a powerful river, it’s cool to stand by all the water rushing with the Alaska Range looming in the distance!
You could also visit the NPS Ranger Station to check out all of the climbing memorabilia, and info about Denali National Park. They also have some great films you can watch while you’re there.
And There’s Even More
There’s so much more to do in Talkeetna. There’s also great galleries, concerts, festivals, ziplining, fishing, rafting, river tours and more. I could write all day. You should just visit and experience it for yourself. Trust me, you’re going to love it!