Stretching from the Alaska Range in the north to the Talkeetna and Chugach ranges in the east and south, the massive Mat-Su borough covers an area roughly the size of West Virginia. It’s named for the two main rivers draining these peaks (the Matanuska and Susitna).
Most residents live in the “Valley”, home to the towns of Palmer and Wasilla, and nearly one-third of them commute to Anchorage for work. In Wasilla you’ll recognize “suburban Alaska”—big box stores, subdivisions, and traffic mixed with gun stores and log cabins.
But the Mat-Su is also home to gorgeous wilderness: craggy mountains, massive glaciers, salmon-filled streams, and endless boreal forests dotted with lakes. It’s easy to explore: the Parks and Glenn highways run north and east, accessing Denali and the Matanuska Glacier area.
And there’s a lot to do: river rafting, glacier trekking, flightseeing, bird watching, canoeing, and more are easily accessible, from towns like Talkeetna, Willow, and Glacier View. Talkeetna, a whistle-stop town at the junction of three rivers, is also the launching point for Mt. McKinley climbers, as well as the Alaska’s flightseeing capital.
Winter brings out the dog mushers, skiers, and snowmobilers. Willow hosts the official start of the Iditarod; not surprisingly, the community is filled with dog mushers. Take a tour on a dog sled or a guided snowmobile ride. Winter carnivals, holiday celebrations, ice fishing tournaments, and extreme adventure races occur throughout the dark, cold months.
With a high density of B&Bs, great recreation, unique towns, and special events year-round, the Mat-Su is a great base camp for Alaskan adventures.