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16 Best Things to do in Talkeetna, Alaska

16 Best Things to do in Talkeetna, Alaska

A darling Alaskan town, Talkeetna is approximately two hours north of Anchorage and many people consider it their gateway to Denali National Park.

We’ll expand on the natural treasure of Denali National Park below. We’re also going to show you all the fabulous things to do in Talkeetna.

First of all, the views of Denali from Talkeetna are astounding. Talkeetna also has a rich history and is very walkable, so you can enjoy most of its attractions while you enjoy the outdoors.

Whether you have a day or many, Talkeetna will keep you fully entertained. What is in Talkeetna, Alaska, that’s adventurous? Fishing, flightseeing, boating, and much more.

Talkeetna also has many fantastic restaurants like the Talkeetna Roadhouse, museums, historic buildings, and a beautiful downtown area with quirky Alaskan stories around every corner.

Talkeetna’s breweries are popular too, especially the Denali Brewing Company. Buy the town’s famous birch syrup at Kahiltna Birchworks too.

Most people get here by way of Anchorage. Start by checking Skyscanner for flights into Anchorage International Airport. You can also arrange a charter flight through air taxi into Talkeetna State Airport.

An absolute joy to do is take the Alaska Railroad here from Anchorage. More on that below.

If you’re driving from Anchorage, it’s about a two-hour trip. Head north towards Wasilla on AK-1, or Glenn Highway, then take AK-3, or George Parks Highway, to Wasilla.

Drive through Wasilla to Milepost 98.7 on AK-3/George Parks Highway, then turn right onto Talkeetna Spur Road. Take Talkeetna Spur Road 14-miles into Talkeetna.

TLDR

Best & Fun Things to Do in Talkeetna, Alaska

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

Denali National Park’s entrance is where the park road meets Alaska Highway 3 at the eastern end. The entrance is at Mile 237 on the highway.

With six million acres of wilderness, one road, and incredible majesty, Denali National Park is home to North America’s tallest peak; 20,310′ Denali.

The park’s only road is called Denali Park Road, or the park road (everyone will know which road you’re talking about), which is 92 miles, running from east to west.

It’s wonderfully scenic but mostly unpaved. Drivers start in a forested area but will travel up and down through passes, some quite thrilling, as they travel west.

From the end of May to mid-September, you can drive your vehicle the first 15-miles to Savage River. Beyond that, is limited to busses.

You can board a bus here or at your hotel. It’s an ideal way to see the park and enjoy views of Denali National Park and spot wildlife.

The Denali National Park Backcountry Adventure Tour is a highly rated way to tour Denali. It includes a guided tour along the park road to Backcountry Lodge and pick-up and drop-off.

After lunch at the lodge, you can continue your tour with an experienced naturalist guide, pan for gold, or take a botany walk.

Denali National Park was created by Congress in 1917 to protect Dali sheep from being hunted and the area from human development.

As a result, the trails remain near the park road, mainly by the entrance. Experienced hikers can hike off the trail for the wild.

You can camp in one of Denali National Park’s six campgrounds, but there is no NPS-run lodging.

Traditional Alaskan Dog Sledding Ride

Two dogs pulling a sled through the snow.

The Visitors Center for the Traditional Alaskan Dog Sledding Ride is at the base of Hatcher Pass connecting Willow with Palmer. This activity is available in winter and summer.

Most guests find renting a car or using a ride-sharing app such as Uber or Lyft to be the most economic option for transportation. The minimum roundtrip to the meeting point is 4.5 hours.

Experience a champion sled dog team while taking in the incredible scenery near Willow on a traditional Alaskan dog sled ride. The area near Willow offers a prime place to learn about mushing before you hit the private trails.

All the dogs in your team have either run the famous Iditarod thousand-mile race or are actively training to run it one day. They are friendly and very high-energy! Your guide will brief you on safety before you settle into your sled. Notice the dogs’ power, focus, and determination around corners, and up and over hills.

Enjoy the surrounding nature around and awesome views of Denali and look for moose or foxes. After your ride, the dogs run around for some playtime. Play with the huskies before warming up in the visitor’s center with cookies, cocoa, and more dog cuddles.

Another interesting way to see how important sled dogs are to Alaskan life is with an Intimate Visit to an Alaskan Off-Grid Homestead with Sled Dogs experience.

Get an authentic look at an Alaska homestead and meet the resident sled dogs on a homestead tour. These sled dogs are kept for daily chores and companionship on this off-the-grid homestead where you can learn more about a unique way of life.

Each dog has a different personality and there will be plenty of opportunities to play with them and take pictures. You can also reserve kennel visits to learn more about these iconic dogs.

See Related: Denali Jeep Tour: How to Take a Denali Highway Excursion

Alaska Railroad

Alaska Railroad engine pulling a train in winter.

Address: Anchorage Train Depot, 411 W 1st Ave, Anchorage AK 99501

If you’re coming to the town of Talkeetna, Alaska, via Alaska Railroad, make sure to arrive at the Anchorage train depot early enough to explore the old station built in 1942 and is now on the National Historic Register.

You can even get a photo of Alaska Railroad Engine Number One which was once used on the construction of the Panama Canal Railroad.

After you board, you’ll head north through the joint military bases of Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson. Combined, they are the largest military installation in Alaska. You’ll follow the Knik Arm past Eagle River and Peter’s Creek.

Then you’ll cross the Eklutna River and its native village of 70 known for their painted spirit houses in the cemetery. It was first settled more than 800 years ago, making it the oldest inhabited native village near Anchorage.

Several long bridges take you across the Knik and Matanuska Rivers. You’ll also get amazing views of Mt. Susitna, or “Sleeping Lady,” in the west.

Now, you’re in the Mat Su Valley, extending north to Talkeetna, known for yielding gigantic produce due to fertile soil and long summer days. Locals and visitors flock here for the lakes and fishing streams. The State Fair is held here every late August close by in Palmer.

You’ll also have a brief stop in Wasilla, a lively community from where many people commute to their work in Anchorage. You’ll continue to Willow, the official “restart” of the Iditarod Sled Dog mushing race. The ceremonial start is in Anchorage.

As you approach Talkeetna, you’ll get a great view and photo opportunity of Mt. Denali. The Talkeetna train depot is close to downtown Talkeetna. Explore downtown Talkeetna or catch a flightseeing tour of Denali National Park.

See Related: Fun Things to do in Anchorage

Talkeetna Riverfront Park

Rocky shoreline of Talkeetna Riverfront Park

Address: Talkeetna Riverfront Park, 2nd St, Talkeetna AK 99676

At the end of Main Street in downtown Talkeetna, you’ll see the confluence of three rivers and wonderful views of the Alaska Range. The wild glacial rivers are the Talkeetna, Susitna River, and Chulitna and here they come together to form the Big Susitna River.

Stroll along the sand bars or just stand at the river’s edge for the amazing views. Visitors also like to enjoy campfires and boating on the pristine waters.

Sunrises and sunsets are magnificent to see here. This is one of the best free things to do in Talkeetna. The setting sun will glow behind Mt. Denali, Foraker, and Hunter.

There’s also a full loop around downtown Talkeetna by walking downstream along the Susitna River to the end of the village airstrip. Walk up D Street and back to Main Street. The trail is unimproved and you’ll often see campers along the way. Winter will bring snowshoers, skiers, dog mushers, and snowmachiners.

Ideal for couples and located on the banks of the Susitna River, the Susitna River Lodge is less than 5 minutes drive from Talkeetna town center.

Exterior of the wood cabin style Susitna River Lodge
Image by Booking.com

Each rustic suite at Susitna River Lodge provides free Wi-Fi, a microwave, a refrigerator, and an electric fireplace.

See Related: Best Things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska

Talkeetna Historical Society Museum

The entrance to the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum
Image by Booking.com

Address: Talkeetna Historical Society Museum, 22248 D St, Talkeetna AK 99676

The downtown Talkeetna Historical Society Museum is open during the summer daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and on weekends in the winter from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The Talkeetna Museum is in the original Territory of Alaska Talkeetna School which opened in 1936 and is dedicated to the preservation of Talkeetna’s historic buildings. Visitors get an introduction to the history of native peoples, gold miners, aviators, and trappers who were a part of Talkeetna’s past.

You’ll also see photos and exhibits like the Mountain Exhibit which provides information about mountaineering, Denali, and the Alaska Range in a room-size model.

Definitely put this fascinating museum on your Talkeetna things-to-do list!

Byers Lake

Calm waters of Lake Byers

Address: Byers Lake, 147 Parks Highway, (90 miles from the National Park Service Entrance)

Located in Denali State Park, family-friendly Byers Lake is in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, 28 miles north of Talkeetna. It’s a peaceful lake in a pine forest good for kayaking, hiking, and camping.

The campground is popular with families and is found on the lake at the foot of Kesugi Ridge. It serves as an access point to Kesugi Ridge Trail via the Cascade Trail. The area has fantastic views of Mt. Denali and also offers burbot, lake, and rainbow trout fishing. Three cabins are available for rent.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to do in Juneau, Alaska

Glacier Landings

Glacier surface covered in ice and snow

Address: Talkeetna Air Taxi Office, 14212 E 2nd St, Talkeetna AK 99676

See the Alaska Range and its glaciers and peaks on an amazing flightseeing tour!

On the Talkeetna: Mountain Voyager with Optional Glacier Landing tour, you fly over Denali, check out Mt. Hunter and Mt. Foraker, and see Kahiltna; the longest glacier in Denali National Park, as well as other massive glaciers.

Your tour starts with check-in at the unique log cabin office at Talkeetna Airport. You’ll board a single-engine, high-wing plane for your unforgettable flightseeing tour. For one hour and 15-minutes, travel in and around the major peaks of the Alaska Range–Denali, Hunter, and Foraker.

Massive glacier highways lead you as you soar and listen to your experienced guide and pilot over a personal headset. Kahiltna Glacier, at a whopping 45-miles long, is a stunner to see. You’ll get the most unique views of Denali National Park from the air as your pilot helps you find the best ones.

For an upgrade, glacier landings are available, allowing you the rare opportunity to stand in the midst of these incredible peaks. You’ll have 30-minutes to play and take photos.

Pick up and drop off are available within a two-mile radius of the Talkeetna Air Taxi office or downtown Talkeetna. Please wear warm clothing and shoes. If the weather is too bad to fly, you’ll be refunded or rescheduled.

The comfortable Talkeetna Inn features a bar, garden, and free WiFi throughout the property. It also offers an ATM and luggage storage space.

Interior of guest room at the Talkeetn Inn
Image by Booking.com

It’s convenient and offers free parking and an airport shuttle service. All guest rooms have an electric teapot, a desk, and a private bathroom.

Zipline Tour in Talkeetna

Woman on a Zipline Ride

Address: 13790 E 2nd Street, Talkeetna, AK 99676

Take a 3-hour zipline tour in Talkeetna to see the Alaska Range, the Susitna and Chulitna Valleys, and the south side of Denali as you travel from platform to platform at break-neck speed!

Your experienced guide provides safety instructions and equipment for your ultimate enjoyment. Choose from multiple departures throughout the day.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Alaska | Top Attractions

Backcountry Eats & Foraging Treats

Wild mushroom in Talkeetna, Alaska

Address: Montana Creek State Recreation Site, 96 S Parks Hwy #6, Willow, AK

Upon arrival at your experienced guide for your Backcountry Eats and Foraging Treats tour will let you know what to expect in the Alaskan wilderness. Then hit the trails to search for wild Alaskan ingredients. Depending on the season, find wild greens, edible wildflowers, fiddlehead ferns, fireweed shoots, mushrooms, berries, and more.

Take what you find back to a campsite for a lesson on how to prepare, cook, and eat using only backcountry equipment and supplies. After an amazing backcountry dessert, return to your lodging.

Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station

Address: Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, 22241 S. B Street, Talkeetna AK 99676

The Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station is in downtown Talkeetna and serves as a command center of mountaineering operations. Climbing Denali and other peaks in the Alaska Range requires a permit and this is where climbers can pick them up, and get an orientation of the mountain.

It’s open year-round, daily from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm, and welcomes all visitors who need gifts, books, information, maps, and scenic views for photos.

It also has interpretive exhibits and the rangers are very friendly and helpful. The Talkeetna Spur Road is at Mile 100 on Highway 3. Drive down the Talkeetna Spur Road for 15 miles, its full length, to town. You’ll find the station on B Street.

See Related: Savage River Loop Trail: Hiking Denali National Park

Aurora Dora

Green aurora borealis in Alaska

Address: Aurora Dora, 22229 S. Talkeetna Spur Road, Talkeetna AK 99676

This is one of the most popular gift shops and art galleries in town, selling prints of Alaska’s amazing aurora borealis lights. Owner, artist, and photographer, Dora Redman has documented the natural lights since arriving in Alaska in 2001. She also offers classes on how to perfectly capture them with a camera!

Nagley’s Store

Address: Nagley’s Store, 13650 E. Main Street, Talkeetna AK 99676

Nagley’s store was founded in 1921 and is the longest continually operated general store in the Northern Susitna Valley. It’s open daily from 7:30 am until 9:00 pm.

Stop by for specialty coffees, hand-scooped ice cream, sandwiches, snacks, and sodas. This charming store is also on the National Register of Historic Places!

See Related: Best Restaurants in Fairbanks, Alaska

Talkeetna Roadhouse

The front of the Talkeetna Roadhouse. things to do in talkeetna alaska

Address: Talkeetna Lodge, 13550 E Main Street, Talkeetna AK 99676

The original two-story log building and barn were built around 1917 as a freight hauling supply station. In 1944, the business expanded to a full-service roadhouse with simple rooms and family-style meals.

Along with cozy overnight accommodations with private bathrooms, guests can enjoy our Roadhouse Sourdough Hotcake & Scrambled Egg breakfast and use the coin-op laundry.

Denali Brewing Company

Beer tasting at Denali Brewing Company

Address: Denali Brewery and Tap Room, Mile 2 Talkeetna Spur Road

A locally-owned microbrewery in the center of the Upper Susitna Valley and at the confluence of the three rivers, the Denali Brewing Company features amazing views of Denali and the Alaska Range.

The brewery has a home in downtown Talkeetna and was opened in the summer of 2009. By 2011, the operations outgrew the Main Street location. In the late fall of 2011, production began at the present headquarters at Mile 2 off the Talkeetna Spur Road.

The growth led to beer packaging development, canning of signature ales, better quality, and more consistent distribution. They are opened year-round as a place for local citizens to gather and enjoy their delicious brews.

See Related: Best Breweries in Fairbanks, Alaska

Alaska War Veterans Memorial

Address: Alaska War Veterans Memorial, Milepost 147.1 Parks Highway

Located along Alaska Route 3 (the George Parks Highway), the Alaska Veteran’s Memorial is located within Denali State Park. The memorial consists of five 20-foot tall concrete panels, one each to represent the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard (and presumably the Space Force one day) arranged in a semi-circle.

A short history of each branch’s contribution to Alaska is carved in each panel. The entrance statue features two Alaska Territorial Guards, carved by Canadian sculptor George Pratt.

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

Exterior of the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Image by Booking.com

Address: 23601 Talkeetna Spur Rd, Talkeetna, AK 99676

The fabulous Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is a destination in itself. Less than a 10-minute drive from downtown Talkeetna, this iconic, beautiful, and highly rated Alaska lodge offers on-site dining options and a fitness room.

All guest rooms feature mountain or forest views and include a flat-screen TV with cable, free Wi-Fi, a fridge, and a coffeemaker.

Guests can enjoy meals at the Foraker Dining Room and Base Camp Bistro, both serving traditional Alaskan dishes of seafood, steaks, and wild game. The Base Camp Lounge offers comprehensive wine and cocktail menus.

Airplane and jet boat tours are available from here. Free shuttle services to Talkeetna Train Depot, Talkeetna Airport, and downtown Talkeetna are also available.

FAQ

How long is the train ride from Denali to Talkeetna?

A scenic 4-hours via Alaska Railroad. Your ride will include guided narration and access to dining.

Can you see Denali from Talkeetna?

A few amazing views of Denali can be found up the Talkeetna Spur Road (Mile 98.9 of the George Parks Highway) and from Talkeetna. The Denali View Pullout at Mile 13 off the spur roads hows Denali, along with Foraker and the Alaska Range above the Susitna River.

Can you see the Northern Lights from Talkeetna, AK?

Absolutely. The northern lights make staying in Talkeetna extra special. Don’t forget your camera – it can pick up colors your eyes can’t!

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