The most-asked questions about Talkeetna, answered by four local experts: Charlene, of Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge; Christy, of K2 Aviation; Sandy, of Mahay's Jet Boat Adventures; and Geri, of Talkeetna Aero Services.
- What makes Talkeetna special?
- What's there to do in town?
- How many days should I spend?
- What's the best way to Talkeetna?
- How do I get around town?
- Highlights of the drive from Anchorage?
- What's the summer weather like?
- How likely is it that I'll see Denali (Mt. McKinley)?
- Where are the best places to see Denali around town?
What makes Talkeetna special?
Geri: "It's a real village, where real people live-and they're very friendly. It's not just a strip of gift shops, but a nice town to walk through, with benches to people-watch or see the panoramic view of Denali (Mt. McKinley). Talkeetna is probably as wild as many people really want to get. It's wild, yet with a latté."
Charlene: "We've hung on to the rural environment and historic values, but have first—class accommodations. And though I've lived in Alaska for 28 years, I was still blown away by the view from this area. Talkeetna is one of the only places where you can go flightseeing and land in Denali National Park, right on the mountain. It's really one of those wows".
What's there to do in town?
Sandy: "Dog sledding, flightseeing, jet boating, horseback riding, a museum, and a great ranger station. It's nice to have National Historic Register buildings in town. There's interesting info in front of each."
Geri: "Check out the art galleries: Steve Gilroy (photos); Dave Totten (watercolors); the Alaska Artisan co—op (photos, drawings, beadwork, metal and wood work); and Denali Photos."
Christy: "There's world—class fishing around Talkeetna. People catch 50—pounders here all the time, and every species of salmon."
Charlene: "We have a lot of hiking trails—my favorite is driving up by the Earth Station and walking along the ridgeline. You get views of Denali (Mt. McKinley) and come out by the lodge. It's very easy, probably a few hours."
How many days should I spend?
Sandy: "At least a couple nights. It's easier to do it all, especially if you're fishing (i.e. on a full—day tour)."
Geri: "One afternoon and the next day, then go on to Denali. Two to three days would be great—take a day trip to the park and come back."
Christy: "At least one night, especially since the weather is unpredictable. Rather than spending two or three nights in Denali, take another day here."
Charlene: "Most come for one night, but they should stay for two. Talkeetna is still that unknown secret, and people are still discovering what it's all about."
What's the best way to get to Talkeetna?
Sandy: "A lot of people take the train, maybe as a day trip."
Geri: " Independent travelers have a car—there's greater flexibility. You can drive up to Denali, then down to Talkeetna for a day, then back down to Anchorage."
Christy: "I r ecommend driving. The train only goes one direction each day, so you couldn't do a day trip as easily. If there weather's bad in Talkeetna, you could drive up to Denali."
NOTE: K2 and their sister company Rust's Flying Service offer year—round charters, but no scheduled runs, between Anchorage and Talkeetna. Talkeetna Aero Services offers scheduled runs from Talkeetna up to Denali Park.
How do I get around town?
Geri: "There are no car rentals here, no public transportation. But most of Talkeetna is walkable. The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge has a shuttle, but the B&Bs out of town require a car."
Highlights of the drive from Anchorage?
Sandy: "The Iditarod Trail Headquarters, in Wasilla, and the musk ox farm in Palmer. And Hatcher Pass is beautiful."
Geri: "The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, north of Wasilla, is very interesting for people into machinery and old planes."
Charlene: "There's a lot of opportunity to see Denali on a clear day. The Palmer area has some beautiful mountains, as does Eklutna Flats."
What's the summer weather like?
Geri: "Gorgeous weather in summer. Don't come in late August, when it usually starts to rain. May to mid—August is cool in the mornings, 45 degrees (Fahrenheit). During the day, people wear shorts. But do bring layers. And you can't buy shoes, underwear, or socks in town, so bring your own."
Christy: "It can rain, but it's usually hot and sunny, with highs in the 70s and low 80s."
How likely is it that I'll see Denali (Mt. McKinley)?
Sandy: "30 percent of the visitors get to see the mountain-probably their highlight."
Geri: "About 50 percent in the summer. The 10 percent you're sometimes quoted is more like seeing it from top to bottom, with no clouds—that's perfection. From the air it's about 70 – 80 percent."
Christy: "Typically, 10% get to see the mountain. This summer, we've had it out for two weeks straight; it's been out for most of the summer, so percentages can be higher."
Where are the best places to see Denali around town?
Christy: "Dow n at the end of town, by the river, and on the rivers. All the locals hike down there. The overlook by the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is good—there's a pullout at the top of the hill."
Sandy: "There's the lookout a mile out of town, that's probably the best. It's also excellent on the river. All of Mahay's jet—boat tours take you to see all three mountains—Foraker, Denali, and Hunter—and pieces of the others in the range."
Geri: "Best place is from the overlook. The deck of the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is a good spot. Out on the river is good, too."