Talkeetna is Alaska’s basecamp for adventure
It’s easy to fall in love with Alaska. For so many, she becomes a mistress who will always kiss back. Sometimes that comes in the form of a lip-smacking dinner around a crackling campfire, or perhaps it’s a gentle peck on the cheek with the first peaceful snow of the season. Regardless, locals and visitors are passionate about this state.
Falling in love with The Last Frontier is so easy, but it comes with a conundrum: Picking a favorite place.
This may drive one mad. Just how do you choose one place, one locale that is the epitome of what Alaska means to you?
Talkeetna is one of those very special places. It’s a mix of wild and friendly, nostalgic and modern, cultured but with a bit of swagger.
Its pristine rivers boast all five species of salmon, as well as species of trout and other gamefish. In fact, the name Talkeetna is derived from the Dena’ina Natives, who called the area K’dalkitnu, or the place “where three rivers join” or “river of plenty.”
Talkeetna is located about 2.5 hours north of Anchorage on the Parks Highway. Turn off the Parks at Mile 99 and drive the Talkeetna Spur Highway 14 miles and you will arrive in Talkeetna.
While abundant in flora and fauna, the true star of the Talkeetna region is Denali, North America’s tallest mountain and a constant sentry that dominates the skyline. With about 130 sunny days in Talkeetna, chances are good you will catch a glimpse of “The Mountain,” as locals casually refer to the 20,310-foot massif.
Activities abound in and around Talkeetna, from epic hikes and climbs, flightseeing, zipline tours, ATV and yak trips, to just sitting on the banks of the river watching the water flow past. End your day at any one of the quality eateries in town, or quench that thirst at the world-renown Denali Brewing Company.
It truly is an adventurer’s paradise, and it’s made even more rich thanks to an eclectic concentration of people.
Talkeetna is a magnificent mixing pot of folk. Sinewy climbers from all points of the globe mingle with locals who are quick to smile, and quicker to help. They seem to embody the spectrum from quiet woodsfolk to vocal rabble-rousers. It really is a town comprised of fun hogs to philosophers, who’ve had enough common sense to elect a cat as mayor. Stubbs has held that lofty office for nearly 20 years.
Stubbs’ favorite haunt is the historic Nagley’s Store, a Talkeetna fixture since 1917. If Stubbs has other favorites on his list, he ain’t talking. Luckily, here are a few ideas to get your trip to Talkeetna started:
TOP FOUR EVENTS IN TALKEETNA
Talkeetna Fly In
This year the Talkeetna Fly In takes place May 19-21. There will be information booths set up each day, an aerial scavenger hunt, qualifying rounds for flying events, a unicycle race and more. Take part in the Build A Plane auction and enter the balsa flying contest. Hats and commemorative posters will be available for purchase. Visit the Fly In Facebook page for more. (www.facebook.com/TalkeetnaFlyIn/)
Denali celebrates its centennial birthday with SummerFest, held at the Denali Visitor Center to also kick off the summer. There will be music performances, food, birthday cake, children’s activities and more. (www.nps.gov/dena)
Fourth of July Parade
Talkeetna’s annual Fourth of July Parade generally kicks off at High Noon and makes two passes through downtown. There are no entry fees, and plenty of activities following around town. This is a laid-back kind of place, so just show up and see where the day takes you. (www.talkeetnachamber.org)
Moose on the Loose & Moose Auction
After the parade come to the fundraiser for the Talkeetna Historical Society, Talkeetna Artist Guild and the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce. The decorated plywood yard art moose featured in the parade will be auctioned off in the Village Park. (www.talkeetnachamber.org)