Photo Credit: K2 Aviation Talkeetna

Mat-Su Valley Day Tours & Attractions

The Mat-Su Valley is an adventure center encompassing a huge area just a few hours north of Anchorage. Drive there for a day trip, or stay in the towns of Palmer, Wasilla, or Talkeetna and explore!

Glacier Tours View All

Season: Apr 17 to Oct 31 $255+ Half, Full, and Multi-Day

With Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­ture Tours, you can expe­ri­ence glac­i­ers inac­ces­si­ble by road. Nev­er fear if you’ve nev­er dri­ven an before; this com­pa­ny teach­es you to maneu­ver your ATV through the Alaskan wilder­ness with your guide at the lead. Your des­ti­na­tion is the mag­nif­i­cent Knik Glac­i­er, where you’ll enjoy lunch and gor­geous scenery.

Season: Year Round $245+ Full day, half day and multi-day

Head out into the Alaskan wilder­ness on this excit­ing ATV adven­ture, dri­ving through woods and splash­ing through rivers on your way to a gor­geous glacial moraine sur­round­ed by tow­er­ing snow-capped peaks. Trans­porta­tion from Anchor­age included.

Season: May 01 to Sep 15 $95+ 4 to 6 hrs

Expe­ri­ence the thrill of walk­ing or climb­ing on a glac­i­er. The Matanus­ka is Alaska’s largest road-acces­si­ble glac­i­er, and it’s just 90 min­utes from Anchor­age, so it’s an easy way to get up close and per­son­al with these amaz­ing nat­ur­al won­ders. You don’t need to be expe­ri­enced in either activ­i­ty — just be in good shape and up for adven­ture. You’ll either walk around on the glac­i­er with cram­pons or learn how to use an ice axe and safe­ly work your  ...more

Season: Year Round $220+

Local­ly known as The Glac­i­er Land­ing Com­pa­ny,” TAT has been fly­ing climbers and sight­seers to the Alas­ka Range and Denali since 1947. Tal­keet­na Air Taxi fea­tures a cus­tom-designed fleet of planes, a ded­i­cat­ed cus­tomer ser­vice team, and a vari­ety of tours for every budget.

Season: Year Round $230+ 1 to 2 hrs

While you may nev­er join the ranks of climbers who have sum­mit­ed Denali, an up-close view of North Amer­i­ca’s tallest peak can still be yours. K2 Avi­a­tion offers once-in-a-life­time flight­see­ing tours among and above the Alas­ka Range. Add a glac­i­er land­ing to get a sense of how immense these peaks real­ly are.

$89+ 3 hrs to full day excursions

There’s climb­ing a moun­tain – and then there’s climb­ing an ICE moun­tain. Regard­less of your climb­ing abil­i­ty or expe­ri­ence, you’ll end the day feel­ing ful­filled and inspired. MICA also offers short, guid­ed hikes and longer treks if you pre­fer a more leisure­ly explore of the glac­i­er and its grandeur.

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $569+ 1.5 hrs

Stun­ning scenery, a thrilling ride and hap­py pup­pies: this tour out of the Anchor­age area offers an unbeat­able com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic Alas­ka expe­ri­ences that will delight fam­i­lies or — real­ly, any­body. Tak­ing a total of about 90 min­utes, and run­ning from mid-May to ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, this tour includes a Flight­see­ing round trip, a small friend­ly group envi­ron­ment, and plen­ty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

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Fishing Charters View All

Fish for for salmon and trout a few hours north of Anchorage
$225+ 3-9 hours

Explore the rivers of south­cen­tral Alas­ka on a float or fish­ing trip guid­ed by Hell Bent Fish­ing Char­ters. Raft along a scenic riv­er hid­ing away just min­utes off the road sys­tem. It fits per­fect­ly into a half day or full day, when you want to step out of the hus­tle and bus­tle of your vaca­tion and into authen­tic Alaska.

$550+ fly-in fishing day trip, $1,248+ overnight all-inclusive 1 - 6+ Nights

Explor­ing Alaska’s back­coun­try lakes, forests and rivers is a phe­nom­e­nal expe­ri­ence. Wilder­ness Place Lodge — tucked away on a remote riv­er north­west of Anchor­age — offers excel­lent access to near­ly any fresh­wa­ter fish you came to Alas­ka for, along with a unique eco-trav­el expe­ri­ence that comes with a high lev­el of ser­vice, a vari­ety of non-fish­ing activ­i­ties and the mel­low free­dom to cre­ate an Alaskan expe­ri­ence that suits your own taste.

$190+ 5 - 8 hours

Fish more of the hot spots with Phan­tom Char­ters, a fam­i­ly com­pa­ny run by folks who live to fish and bring a life­time of insid­er knowl­edge to your trip. Using spe­cial, shal­low-run­ning boats to get into hard-to-reach waters, they’ll take you to best riv­er fish­ing around Tal­keet­na. Wan­der the bank and cast for Sil­vers, Chums, Pinks, and Sock­eyes, or troll from behind the boat as well as shore fish for the Big Kings.

Season: Year Round $575 full day fishing, $1200+ all-inclusive multi-day packages 8 hrs - Multi-Days

The North­woods Lodge is a remote lodge where vis­i­tors can find them­selves in a 45 minute flight from Anchor­age. The lodge spe­cial­izes in guid­ed fish­ing, and guests can enjoy 8 to 10 hours of fish­ing a day if they choose. Guides help you spin or fly fish for tro­phy king salmon, sil­ver and sock­eye salmon, or res­i­dent rain­bow trout, arc­tic grayling and north­ern pike

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Flightseeing Tours View All

Season: Year Round $230+ 1 to 2 hrs

While you may nev­er join the ranks of climbers who have sum­mit­ed Denali, an up-close view of North Amer­i­ca’s tallest peak can still be yours. K2 Avi­a­tion offers once-in-a-life­time flight­see­ing tours among and above the Alas­ka Range. Add a glac­i­er land­ing to get a sense of how immense these peaks real­ly are.

Season: Year Round $220+

Local­ly known as The Glac­i­er Land­ing Com­pa­ny,” TAT has been fly­ing climbers and sight­seers to the Alas­ka Range and Denali since 1947. Tal­keet­na Air Taxi fea­tures a cus­tom-designed fleet of planes, a ded­i­cat­ed cus­tomer ser­vice team, and a vari­ety of tours for every budget.

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Rafting Tours View All

Season: Jun 11 to Aug 20 $95+ 2.5 to 3 hrs

Expe­ri­ence a scenic float along a glacial riv­er. Just 90 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Matanus­ka Glac­i­er is Alaska’s largest road-acces­si­ble glac­i­er, and the water run­ning under­neath cre­ates a riv­er that’s per­fect for raft­ing. You’ll float down­stream for up to 2 hours, tak­ing in the scenery along the way — moun­tains, riv­er chan­nels, hill­sides, moraines — and look­ing out for wildlife. It’s fun for the whole fam­i­ly — any­one ages 5 and up can do this  ...more

Season: May 16 to Sep 16 $84+ 2 hr to full day trips

Float through the remote wilder­ness of Denali State Park with the com­pa­ny that has offered expert­ly guid­ed raft­ing day trips for the past 16 years. You’ll get breath­tak­ing views of glacial moraines, boul­der fields, gran­ite canyons, and sparkling hematite beach­es. Wildlife abounds in this spec­tac­u­lar coun­try, and it’s quite com­mon to see eagles, bears, fox, wolf, lynx, beavers, and moose, as well as many species of birds and fish. Choose a  ...more

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $99 per person

Go for a relax­ing 3‑hour float trip down gen­tle Wil­low Creek as you take in the gor­geous scenery of the Alaskan back­coun­try. Depart­ing from Pio­neer Lodge, just off the Parks High­way south of Tal­keet­na, you’ll board a raft with up to 6 oth­ers and an expert guide. Then just kick back, or grab a pad­dle if you like: You can expect easy-glid­ing Class I and II rapids on this gen­tle river.

Season: Jun 01 to Aug 20 $120+ 3.5 to 4 Hours

If you’re new to white­wa­ter raft­ing or expe­ri­enced in shoot­ing through rapids, Lion’s Head makes for an excit­ing white­wa­ter raft­ing trip. You’ll spend 2.5 hours speed­ing down class II, III, and IV white­wa­ter, either pad­dling your­self or hang­ing on as your guide steers the raft down­stream. All the while, you’ll be pass­ing through gor­geous wilder­ness — wide-open vis­tas with mas­sive rock for­ma­tions — where you’ll have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to look for  ...more

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Dog Sledding Tours View All

Season: Year Round $99+ Summer | $169+ Winter 1 - 8 hours

Expe­ri­ence the excite­ment of rac­ing cham­pi­on sled dogs at the Alas­ka Mush­ing School, just 75 min­utes from Anchor­age. Get a professional’s insight into the mush­ing lifestyle as you ride behind a team of ener­getic sled dogs on trails con­nect­ed to the famous Idi­tar­od route. Bun­dle up and ride in com­fort, or brave the cold and dri­ve the team yourself!

Season: Year Round $150+ 2+ hrs

Win­ter or sum­mer, expe­ri­ence the thrill of run­ning Idi­tar­od sled dogs and even have a chance to dri­ve! Meet the sled dogs and hear first-hand just what it’s like to run the Iditarod.

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $569+ 1.5 hrs

Stun­ning scenery, a thrilling ride and hap­py pup­pies: this tour out of the Anchor­age area offers an unbeat­able com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic Alas­ka expe­ri­ences that will delight fam­i­lies or — real­ly, any­body. Tak­ing a total of about 90 min­utes, and run­ning from mid-May to ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, this tour includes a Flight­see­ing round trip, a small friend­ly group envi­ron­ment, and plen­ty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.

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Guided Hiking View All

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 16 $443 3.5 hrs

Go hik­ing in the Alaskan wilder­ness, but book­end your hike with a spec­tac­u­lar heli­copter ride. Lift off from Tal­keet­na for a short, scenic flight into the bore­al for­est around town. Then get ready to start hik­ing with your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide. You’ll get great views of Denali, the Alas­ka Range, and count­less moun­tain peaks as you walk through the alpine tun­dra of the South Denali area — it’s a hiker’s par­adise only acces­si­ble by chopper.  ...more

$89+ 3 hrs to full day excursions

There’s climb­ing a moun­tain – and then there’s climb­ing an ICE moun­tain. Regard­less of your climb­ing abil­i­ty or expe­ri­ence, you’ll end the day feel­ing ful­filled and inspired. MICA also offers short, guid­ed hikes and longer treks if you pre­fer a more leisure­ly explore of the glac­i­er and its grandeur.

Season: May 20 to Sep 16 $64+ 2.5 to 4.5 hrs

Explore Alas­ka on foot — take a scenic day hike into the South Denali area. Choose one of 3 great hikes; from an easy, 2‑mile stroll to a mod­er­ate­ly stren­u­ous 5½-hour hike. You’ll get spec­tac­u­lar views and see plen­ty of wildlife as you trek with your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide. Depend­ing on the hike you may pass pris­tine lakes, see an old pioneer’s cab­in, catch a glimpse of Mt. McKin­ley, and even have the chance to spot for­ag­ing bears. These  ...more

$370+ Fly-in Day Hike | $365+ Overnight

This fly-in wilder­ness lodge on a pri­vate lake in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains is a great place to unplug. Choose from 3 pri­vate cab­ins and enjoy home-cooked meals served fam­i­ly style with oth­er guests. Take guid­ed walks to look for wildlife or wild berries, or just relax and enjoy the peace and bliss­ful views.

Season: May 01 to Sep 15 $95+ 4 to 6 hrs

Expe­ri­ence the thrill of walk­ing or climb­ing on a glac­i­er. The Matanus­ka is Alaska’s largest road-acces­si­ble glac­i­er, and it’s just 90 min­utes from Anchor­age, so it’s an easy way to get up close and per­son­al with these amaz­ing nat­ur­al won­ders. You don’t need to be expe­ri­enced in either activ­i­ty — just be in good shape and up for adven­ture. You’ll either walk around on the glac­i­er with cram­pons or learn how to use an ice axe and safe­ly work your  ...more

Season: Jul 02 to Sep 10 $1,295 per person 4 days

Get a unique view of the Alaskan wilder­ness on a four- or sev­en-day back­pack­ing trip through the back­coun­try. You’ll be trekking on Kesu­gi Ridge in Denali State Park, with mag­nif­i­cent views of Mt. McKin­ley and of course plen­ty of wildlife to spot along the way. Your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide will be with you the whole way, cook­ing up great meals at your camp­sites. You should be fit enough to car­ry a pack up mod­er­ate hills, though you’ll  ...more

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Jeep & ATV Tours View All

Drive Through Glacier Valleys • Palmer / Wasilla, Eklutna & Glacier View

Season: Apr 17 to Oct 31 $255+ Half, Full, and Multi-Day

With Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­ture Tours, you can expe­ri­ence glac­i­ers inac­ces­si­ble by road. Nev­er fear if you’ve nev­er dri­ven an before; this com­pa­ny teach­es you to maneu­ver your ATV through the Alaskan wilder­ness with your guide at the lead. Your des­ti­na­tion is the mag­nif­i­cent Knik Glac­i­er, where you’ll enjoy lunch and gor­geous scenery.

Season: May 06 to Sep 30 $100+ | Sundays Only 3.5 hrs

Rid­ing Alas­ka ATV Tours show­case the won­ders of the glacial­ly-fed Eklut­na Lake area, a local favorite hid­den away just out­side Anchor­age. Bring the fam­i­ly for a ful­ly-guid­ed ride along the lake and beyond – across grav­el moraines, over rush­ing rivers and through wood­lands, to with­in sight of Eklut­na glac­i­er itself. Sit back and relax while your dri­ver does all the work! Keep a look out: the peace­ful land­scape is alive with wildlife, including  ...more

Season: May 25 to Aug 31 $99+ per person 3 hrs

The loca­tion of this ATV adven­ture is the mid­point between Anchor­age and Glen­nallen. Plen­ty of trav­el­ers dri­ve through this area with­out paus­ing for more than a pic­ture of the road­side glac­i­er, but Glac­i­er View ATV’s three-hour tour — the only ATV excur­sion in this part of Alas­ka — makes this tour well worth a longer stop. 

Season: Year Round $245+ Full day, half day and multi-day

Head out into the Alaskan wilder­ness on this excit­ing ATV adven­ture, dri­ving through woods and splash­ing through rivers on your way to a gor­geous glacial moraine sur­round­ed by tow­er­ing snow-capped peaks. Trans­porta­tion from Anchor­age included.

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Sightseeing Tours View All

Sightseeing & Food Tours
$110 Round Trip 6 hrs

The Hur­ri­cane Turn Train oper­ates on Thurs­day through Sun­day between Tal­keet­na and Hur­ri­cane Gulch from mid May to mid Sep­tem­ber. You can either take a scenic jour­ney round trip, or you can ask to be let off at whichev­er mile mark­er you choose. This train is how many peo­ple who live in the back­coun­try gain access to their homes or cab­ins. It is also pop­u­lar for fish­er­men who gain access to some great fish­ing spots by train. Get back on the  ...more

Sam­ple deli­cious syrup and sweets made from birch trees — like maple but not maple ‑at Kahilt­na Birch­works in Tal­keet­na — the world’s largest pro­duc­er of birch syrup. Stop in or shop online to expe­ri­ence this unique, local spin on a tempt­ing treat. Locat­ed at mile 1.1 of the Tal­keet­na Spur Rd, just off the Parks Highway

Season: Jun 15 to Sep 14 $95+ 4 - 5 hrs

Tour work­ing farms in Palmer, Anchor­age, and Tal­keet­na. You’ll take guid­ed walks around the farms, touch­ing plants, breath­ing in the air and some­times even tast­ing some­thing fresh­ly picked. But there is also a lot of sto­ry­telling, learn­ing about the unique chal­lenges that Alas­ka farm­ers face. Some tours offer option to sam­ple oth­er local prod­ucts like Alas­ka beer and birch syrup.

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Gold Panning Tours View All

Pan for gold in Alaska's backcountry
Season: May 13 to Sep 13 $125+ 4.5 hours

There’s still gold in Alas­ka, and you can learn from Denali Gold Tours what it takes to pan for the shiny flakes in pris­tine water near Trap­per Creek. Spend a half-day or full-day in the gor­geous Alas­ka coun­try­side with your guide, who will share old-timer pan­ning tech­niques and sto­ries from the dra­mat­ic days of Alaska’s gold rush.

Just south of the Cari­bou Creek bridge near mile mark­er 104 on the Glenn High­way in the shad­ow of the Lion’s Head rock for­ma­tion, look for the turnoff for the Cari­bou Creek Recre­ation­al Min­ing Area. You are not going to get fab­u­lous­ly rich here and be the next star of the TV real­i­ty show Gold Rush, but you do have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to car­ry a gold pan and shov­el, hike the steep half-mile-long trail down to the creek, and pan for gold.

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Zipline Tours View All

See glaciers, mountains, and boreal forests • Talkeetna & Glacier View
$99 2 hrs

Noth­ing gets your heart pound­ing like zoom­ing high above a glacial­ly carved val­ley. The Nitro and G2 are two of the longest zips in Alas­ka, and the G2 is the fastest in the state. You’ll get the most amaz­ing minute or so of sight-see­ing you’ve ever had, glid­ing up to a half mile near the Matanus­ka Riv­er, and into the forest­ed area around Matanus­ka Glacier.

Season: May 21 to Sep 18 $149 3 hrs

Com­bine great views of the Alas­ka Range and Denali with the thrill of ziplin­ing. Set in the forest­ed ridges above the Tal­keet­na Riv­er Val­ley, this is the far­thest-north canopy tour in North Amer­i­ca. On these nine ziplines and three sus­pen­sion bridges, you can get up close to the birch, cot­ton­wood, and spruce trees of the bore­al for­est — it’s earth’s largest ecosys­tem and a crit­i­cal nest­ing habi­tat for migrat­ing songbirds.

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Jetboat & Riverboat Tours View All

Season: May 15 to Sep 20 $75+ 2 to 5 hrs

Get hands-on and up close as you learn about local ani­mals, trap­pers, and the Dena’ina Indi­ans, with the wilder­ness as your class­room. Mahay’s Jet Boat Adven­tures makes it pos­si­ble with their jet boat adven­tures on the Susit­na, Tal­keet­na and Chulit­na Rivers. For some vis­i­tors, this explo­ration will be their deep­est immer­sion into the Alaskan wilder­ness — some­thing you just can’t get from a flight­see­ing tour, a cruise, or a car.

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Snowmobiling Tours View All

$150+ 3 hrs

Feel the thrill of explor­ing the Alaskan wilder­ness while dri­ving your own snow­mo­bile over the tun­dra, look­ing for wildlife and tak­ing in amaz­ing views. And on a clear day you’ll get an amaz­ing view of Denali.

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

Season: Nov 15 to Apr 04 $255+ Half Day, Full Day, Multi-Day

Own­ers Mat­ti and Dan can­not think of a bet­ter way to appre­ci­ate Alas­ka than shar­ing it with oth­ers. Mat­ti was born and raised in Palmer, Alas­ka and has been on snow­ma­chines most of her life. Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­tures offers mild to wild” expe­ri­ences and prides itself on pro­vid­ing a cus­tomized expe­ri­ence for all lev­els of abil­i­ty. It offers the widest vari­ety of expe­di­tions on the lat­est and great­est equipment.

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Scenic Day Drives View All

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

The scenic, essen­tial 323-mile-long Parks High­way con­nects Anchor­age and Fair­banks, thread­ing its way past some of Alaska’s most icon­ic Alaskan areas, includ­ing Denali Nation­al Park and Mt. McKin­ley. But we’ll take you far beyond what you can see from the road. We’ll also show you some of the hid­den gems you wouldn’t find on your own, like an old trapper’s cab­in that offers a glimpse into Alaska’s past. We’ll let you in on cool trails to…  ...more

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Wildlife Parks View All

Season: Year Round $13+ 1 hour

In the agri­cul­tur­al Matanus­ka Val­ley just north of Anchor­age, you can pet a rein­deer or feed fresh wil­low to a bull moose. Set on a 200-acre plot in Palmer, the Rein­deer Farm has been in the Williams fam­i­ly for three gen­er­a­tions. Dur­ing the one-hour tour, you’ll hear inter­est­ing, fun­ny, and insight­ful sto­ries about these wild ani­mals while walk­ing around the prop­er­ty. If you want to see the baby rein­deer, come in June!

$11 40 - 45 min

Locat­ed 45 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Musk Ox farm project was con­ceived in the 1950s as an agrar­i­an oppor­tu­ni­ty for vil­lagers in West­ern Alas­ka; today it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at an ani­mal (and a way of life) that was per­ilous­ly close to extinc­tion. You can take a 30- to 40-minute tour of the farm and see some 70 musk ox. Since they’re friend­ly crea­tures, they may come right up to the fence to greet you.

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Visitor Information Centers View All

Housed in a one-room log cab­in, this muse­um and vis­i­tor cen­ter packs a lot into its small space. Learn about Aht­na Athabas­can natives, explore min­ing and trap­ping his­to­ry, and check out the his­to­ry of the fas­ci­nat­ing Colony project — a New Deal pro­gram that brought 204 farm fam­i­lies to Alas­ka. You can also pick up tour books and maps, or ask the knowl­edge­able staff about area attrac­tions. The museum’s per­ma­nent col­lec­tion spans the development…  ...more

If you want to climb Denali (Mt. McKin­ley), this is where you have to come to get your per­mit. Not a climber? Vis­it­ing is still a fas­ci­nat­ing les­son in moun­taineer­ing and Denal­i’s his­to­ry — from inter­pre­tive pro­grams to a tit­il­lat­ing video about climb­ing that shows through­out the day. The rus­tic and beau­ti­ful build­ing also hosts a per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of pho­tos of the Alas­ka Range. Pho­tog­ra­ph­er, explor­er, and sci­en­tist Brad­ford Wash­burn is…  ...more

This log cab­in with a pitched roof and panoram­ic win­dows sits on a bluff beside the high­way and is easy to miss. But be sure to stop in for advice on your vis­it to the Mat-Su. There’s an infor­ma­tion­al video run­ning inside, plus a bevy of vol­un­teers who have at least 60 years com­bined expe­ri­ence in the area. Where should I eat din­ner? What tour should I take for wildlife view­ing? Where’s the best camp­ground? They help­ful locals here will help…  ...more

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Museums & Cultural Centers View All

Get a glimpe into the lives of Alaska’s ear­li­est pio­neers amidst arti­facts, maps, pic­tures and sto­ries depict­ing the rugged life of local gold min­ers, fur trap­pers, home­stead­ers and oth­er adven­tur­ers. The muse­um high­lights the his­to­ry of Trap­per Creek, Cache Creek Min­ing Dis­trict and Petersville Road. The Trap­per Creek area was set­tled in 1959 by a car­a­van of peo­ple who trav­eled from Michi­gan. Com­mon­ly referred to as the 59ers,” those who…  ...more

Trans­port your­self to the Alas­ka of the past in this muse­um and his­toric town site. Check out min­ing digs as you trav­el down stairs paint­ed like an old mine shaft. Then learn about the hard-rock gold min­ing in Hatch­er Pass dur­ing the 1930s. View arti­facts from Athabas­cans, learn about dog mush­ing, and walk through a his­toric dentist’s office. The main muse­um build­ing, once a com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter for bas­ket­ball games and church ser­vices, now tells…  ...more

Housed in a one-room log cab­in, this muse­um and vis­i­tor cen­ter packs a lot into its small space. Learn about Aht­na Athabas­can natives, explore min­ing and trap­ping his­to­ry, and check out the his­to­ry of the fas­ci­nat­ing Colony project — a New Deal pro­gram that brought 204 farm fam­i­lies to Alas­ka. You can also pick up tour books and maps, or ask the knowl­edge­able staff about area attrac­tions. The museum’s per­ma­nent col­lec­tion spans the development…  ...more

The house is an orig­i­nal Colony Farm House” built express­ly for the New Deal reset­tle­ment project spon­sored in 1935 by the Roo­sevelt Admin­is­tra­tion. Vis­i­tors will learn the his­to­ry of the Colony project, often first hand, from descen­dants of the orig­i­nal colonists who staff the house and serve as tour guides. The house is fur­nished ca. 1935 – 45, dis­play­ing some orig­i­nal fur­nish­ings sup­plied by Sears and Roe­buck for the…  ...more

Ded­i­cat­ed to the tech­nol­o­gy that opened the Last Fron­tier, this muse­um is a gearhead’s dream. And it’s pret­ty darned inter­est­ing even if you aren’t into trains, planes or heavy machin­ery. Set on 20 acres, you can wan­der through old train cars, around com­mer­cial fish­ing boats and cars and explore old farm and oil machin­ery. Or head inside and learn about Alas­ka Pio­neer­ing women, gold min­ing and avi­a­tion. Only four miles from down­town Wasilla,…  ...more

Locat­ed on the world-famous Idi­tar­od Trail and housed in one of the two remain­ing build­ings from Knik’s orig­i­nal town­site, the Knik Muse­um fea­tures the Sled Dog Mush­er’s Hall of Fame on the sec­ond floor. The muse­um build­ing was pre­vi­ous­ly used as a pool hall and road­house, and now con­tains a col­lec­tion of cloth­ing, dish­es, fur­ni­ture and arti­facts from Knik’s ear­li­er days. Oper­at­ed by the Wasil­la-Knik-Wil­low Creek Historical…  ...more

Learn about this rur­al town’s native, gold min­ing, and avi­a­tion his­to­ry in this muse­um housed in a lit­tle red school house, as well as a num­ber of small­er, old rail­road build­ings. You’ll find out about ice roads and hors­es wear­ing snow shoes, how air­planes took over from trac­tors, as well as infor­ma­tion about bear traps, native arti­facts, and how folks sur­vived the harsh win­ters of the Susit­na Val­ley. Also, see some of the orig­i­nal trappers’…  ...more

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Fairs & Festivals View All

Season: May 15 to Sep 20 $75+ 2 to 5 hrs

Get hands-on and up close as you learn about local ani­mals, trap­pers, and the Dena’ina Indi­ans, with the wilder­ness as your class­room. Mahay’s Jet Boat Adven­tures makes it pos­si­ble with their jet boat adven­tures on the Susit­na, Tal­keet­na and Chulit­na Rivers. For some vis­i­tors, this explo­ration will be their deep­est immer­sion into the Alaskan wilder­ness — some­thing you just can’t get from a flight­see­ing tour, a cruise, or a car.

This 4.5‑mile trail, some 2 hours north of Anchor­age on the west side of Hatch­er Pass, climbs 1,000 feet up a very typ­i­cal Tal­keet­na val­ley — long, broad, and lined with tow­er­ing peaks on both sides. It also pass­es by relics and ruins of old min­ing days, when these val­leys echoed with the sounds of picks and drills.

Season: May 25 to Aug 31

Halfway between Anchor­age and Glen­nallen, where you’ll find a vari­ety of accom­mo­da­tions, a deli­cious din­er, and tons of adventures

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

As you approach the Inde­pen­dence Mine Park­ing Lot, the trail can be seen to the far right end. It cross­es over a small bridge, and winds up past an old aban­doned min­ing cab­in, and then up a debris field and final­ly to the lake. Round trip, the hike is almost 2 miles, and the ele­va­tion gain is approx­i­mate­ly 600 feet. The trail can be mud­dy and wet for the first .25 miles, but it’s worth the hike to see Gold Cord Lake, and a great view of the Mine  ...more

Season: May 16 to Sep 16 $84+ 2 hr to full day trips

Float through the remote wilder­ness of Denali State Park with the com­pa­ny that has offered expert­ly guid­ed raft­ing day trips for the past 16 years. You’ll get breath­tak­ing views of glacial moraines, boul­der fields, gran­ite canyons, and sparkling hematite beach­es. Wildlife abounds in this spec­tac­u­lar coun­try, and it’s quite com­mon to see eagles, bears, fox, wolf, lynx, beavers, and moose, as well as many species of birds and fish. Choose a  ...more

Season: Jun 11 to Aug 20 $95+ 2.5 to 3 hrs

Expe­ri­ence a scenic float along a glacial riv­er. Just 90 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Matanus­ka Glac­i­er is Alaska’s largest road-acces­si­ble glac­i­er, and the water run­ning under­neath cre­ates a riv­er that’s per­fect for raft­ing. You’ll float down­stream for up to 2 hours, tak­ing in the scenery along the way — moun­tains, riv­er chan­nels, hill­sides, moraines — and look­ing out for wildlife. It’s fun for the whole fam­i­ly — any­one ages 5 and up can do this  ...more

Season: Nov 15 to Apr 04 $255+ Half Day, Full Day, Multi-Day

Own­ers Mat­ti and Dan can­not think of a bet­ter way to appre­ci­ate Alas­ka than shar­ing it with oth­ers. Mat­ti was born and raised in Palmer, Alas­ka and has been on snow­ma­chines most of her life. Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­tures offers mild to wild” expe­ri­ences and prides itself on pro­vid­ing a cus­tomized expe­ri­ence for all lev­els of abil­i­ty. It offers the widest vari­ety of expe­di­tions on the lat­est and great­est equipment.

Season: May 06 to Sep 30 $100+ | Sundays Only 3.5 hrs

Rid­ing Alas­ka ATV Tours show­case the won­ders of the glacial­ly-fed Eklut­na Lake area, a local favorite hid­den away just out­side Anchor­age. Bring the fam­i­ly for a ful­ly-guid­ed ride along the lake and beyond – across grav­el moraines, over rush­ing rivers and through wood­lands, to with­in sight of Eklut­na glac­i­er itself. Sit back and relax while your dri­ver does all the work! Keep a look out: the peace­ful land­scape is alive with wildlife, including  ...more

Season: Year Round $245+ Full day, half day and multi-day

Head out into the Alaskan wilder­ness on this excit­ing ATV adven­ture, dri­ving through woods and splash­ing through rivers on your way to a gor­geous glacial moraine sur­round­ed by tow­er­ing snow-capped peaks. Trans­porta­tion from Anchor­age included.

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

$370+ Fly-in Day Hike | $365+ Overnight

This fly-in wilder­ness lodge on a pri­vate lake in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains is a great place to unplug. Choose from 3 pri­vate cab­ins and enjoy home-cooked meals served fam­i­ly style with oth­er guests. Take guid­ed walks to look for wildlife or wild berries, or just relax and enjoy the peace and bliss­ful views.

Season: Year Round $13+ 1 hour

In the agri­cul­tur­al Matanus­ka Val­ley just north of Anchor­age, you can pet a rein­deer or feed fresh wil­low to a bull moose. Set on a 200-acre plot in Palmer, the Rein­deer Farm has been in the Williams fam­i­ly for three gen­er­a­tions. Dur­ing the one-hour tour, you’ll hear inter­est­ing, fun­ny, and insight­ful sto­ries about these wild ani­mals while walk­ing around the prop­er­ty. If you want to see the baby rein­deer, come in June!

$110 Round Trip 6 hrs

The Hur­ri­cane Turn Train oper­ates on Thurs­day through Sun­day between Tal­keet­na and Hur­ri­cane Gulch from mid May to mid Sep­tem­ber. You can either take a scenic jour­ney round trip, or you can ask to be let off at whichev­er mile mark­er you choose. This train is how many peo­ple who live in the back­coun­try gain access to their homes or cab­ins. It is also pop­u­lar for fish­er­men who gain access to some great fish­ing spots by train. Get back on the  ...more

There’s noth­ing quite like camp­ing in the woods with the fam­i­ly when you’re a kid. The crack­ling camp­fire and gooey s’mores. Bik­ing around the camp­ground loop. Run­ning through the for­est and gath­er­ing wood. Catch­ing (and land­ing) that first fish. Here we offer details for nine great pub­lic fam­i­ly camp­grounds with­in a 90-minute dri­ve from Anchorage.

There are some nice long down­hills with banked turns, a few shal­low creek cross­ings, and some chunk sec­tions. Most of this trail lies on south-fac­ing hill­sides, with views of the Knik Riv­er Val­ley and Pio­neer Peak.

Difficulty: Easy

Two trails trav­el over the Mat-Su Col­lege lands; one from the col­lege and one from Snod­grass Hall. The Mat-Su Col­lege trail­head leads to a hilly loop and opens to beau­ti­ful views of Lazy Moun­tain, Twin Peaks, Boden­burge Butte, and Knik Glac­i­er — the best moun­tain views in the entire green­belt system.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

This short, paved trail is an hour’s dri­ve north of Anchor­age in south­ern Wasil­la. It leads out to a bluff on Palmer Hay Flats — a large stretch of wet­lands with all kinds of wildlife. There, a view­ing plat­form over­looks the flats and the Chugach Moun­tains beyond.

Season: May 21 to Sep 18 $149 3 hrs

Com­bine great views of the Alas­ka Range and Denali with the thrill of ziplin­ing. Set in the forest­ed ridges above the Tal­keet­na Riv­er Val­ley, this is the far­thest-north canopy tour in North Amer­i­ca. On these nine ziplines and three sus­pen­sion bridges, you can get up close to the birch, cot­ton­wood, and spruce trees of the bore­al for­est — it’s earth’s largest ecosys­tem and a crit­i­cal nest­ing habi­tat for migrat­ing songbirds.

Want to feel dwarfed by Alaska’s moun­tains? Take a 2‑hour dri­ve north on the Parks High­way and then up Hatch­er Pass Road, where you’ll find this 2‑mile-long ATV trail — a wide but occa­sion­al­ly steep path that leads to the crest of Box Lake Ridge. From the big, round­ed top of this ridge, you can’t help but feel over­whelmed by the enor­mous Tal­keet­na Moun­tains that sur­round you.

These frozen chan­nels wind for miles across the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge off the Glenn High­way in the mouth of the Matanus­ka and Knik riv­er val­leys, just 35 miles north of Anchor­age. Either trav­el the streams or explore exten­sive pond net­works on the flats.

Season: Jun 15 to Sep 14 $95+ 4 - 5 hrs

Tour work­ing farms in Palmer, Anchor­age, and Tal­keet­na. You’ll take guid­ed walks around the farms, touch­ing plants, breath­ing in the air and some­times even tast­ing some­thing fresh­ly picked. But there is also a lot of sto­ry­telling, learn­ing about the unique chal­lenges that Alas­ka farm­ers face. Some tours offer option to sam­ple oth­er local prod­ucts like Alas­ka beer and birch syrup.

Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Sum­mit Lake, locat­ed some 60 miles north of Anchor­age at the crest of Hatch­er Pass, offers a short, mem­o­rable lake­side ram­ble. Here you can explore the sur­round­ing gul­lies and slopes or just sit and watch hang glid­ers drift out over the long Wil­low Creek Val­ley, which extends for miles from the west side of the pass.

Season: Year Round $220+

Local­ly known as The Glac­i­er Land­ing Com­pa­ny,” TAT has been fly­ing climbers and sight­seers to the Alas­ka Range and Denali since 1947. Tal­keet­na Air Taxi fea­tures a cus­tom-designed fleet of planes, a ded­i­cat­ed cus­tomer ser­vice team, and a vari­ety of tours for every budget.

Season: Jun 01 to Sep 16 $443 3.5 hrs

Go hik­ing in the Alaskan wilder­ness, but book­end your hike with a spec­tac­u­lar heli­copter ride. Lift off from Tal­keet­na for a short, scenic flight into the bore­al for­est around town. Then get ready to start hik­ing with your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide. You’ll get great views of Denali, the Alas­ka Range, and count­less moun­tain peaks as you walk through the alpine tun­dra of the South Denali area — it’s a hiker’s par­adise only acces­si­ble by chopper.  ...more

$89+ 3 hrs to full day excursions

There’s climb­ing a moun­tain – and then there’s climb­ing an ICE moun­tain. Regard­less of your climb­ing abil­i­ty or expe­ri­ence, you’ll end the day feel­ing ful­filled and inspired. MICA also offers short, guid­ed hikes and longer treks if you pre­fer a more leisure­ly explore of the glac­i­er and its grandeur.

Season: Jun 15 to Jul 10
$2,675+
2 – 4 Night
Land Package Type: Guided Backcountry Adventures

Expe­ri­ence the best of June fish­ing at the remote, fly-in Wilder­ness Place Lodge where you’ll tar­get rain­bow trout, arc­tic grayling, and north­ern pike.

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $569+ 1.5 hrs

Stun­ning scenery, a thrilling ride and hap­py pup­pies: this tour out of the Anchor­age area offers an unbeat­able com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic Alas­ka expe­ri­ences that will delight fam­i­lies or — real­ly, any­body. Tak­ing a total of about 90 min­utes, and run­ning from mid-May to ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, this tour includes a Flight­see­ing round trip, a small friend­ly group envi­ron­ment, and plen­ty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.

Season: Jul 02 to Sep 10 $1,295 per person 4 days

Get a unique view of the Alaskan wilder­ness on a four- or sev­en-day back­pack­ing trip through the back­coun­try. You’ll be trekking on Kesu­gi Ridge in Denali State Park, with mag­nif­i­cent views of Mt. McKin­ley and of course plen­ty of wildlife to spot along the way. Your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide will be with you the whole way, cook­ing up great meals at your camp­sites. You should be fit enough to car­ry a pack up mod­er­ate hills, though you’ll  ...more

Season: Jun 15 to Aug 01
$3225 per person
4 night / 5 day
Land Package Type: Guided Backcountry Adventures

This pack­age com­bines the most impres­sive aspects of inte­ri­or remote Alas­ka; flight­see­ing, glac­i­er hik­ing, dog sled­ding, fish­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, and a deluxe Alaskan lodge. Play hard by day, then wine and dine your­selves to a bliss­ful sleep in your pri­vate cabin.

Difficulty: Moderate

How to get ThereThe Plum­ley-Maud Trail can be accessed from the end of Maud Road, or from the cor­ner on Plum­ley Road near Caudill Road. 1) Access from Maud Road: From Palmer go south east 3 12 miles on the Old Glenn High­way, take a left on Maud Road, fol­low Maud Road for 1 12 miles. There is a small turn around and lim­it­ed park­ing before the creek direct­ly east of the road. Please be care­ful not to block the entrance to the trail or the…  ...more

The Fish­hook Trail­head park­ing lot is locat­ed at mile 16.5 of Hatch­er Pass Road. This area is active­ly used year round. In the sum­mer it’s a great area to hike and in late sum­mer the slopes are abun­dant with blue­ber­ries. This trail­head also leads to Mar­mot Moun­tain, were paraglid­ers launch from the top and land in the park­ing lot. In the win­ter, the area draws indi­vid­u­als to sled, ski and snow­ma­chine. This trail­head inter­sects with The Hatcher  ...more

Season: Jun 15 to Aug 21
$995+ per person
Land Package Type: Guided Backcountry Adventures

In just 24 hours you can expe­ri­ence an Alaskan float plane ride, an overnight in a deluxe wilder­ness lodge with a gourmet din­ner, and a taste of Alaska’s famous riv­er fishing.

Season: May 13 to Sep 13 $125+ 4.5 hours

There’s still gold in Alas­ka, and you can learn from Denali Gold Tours what it takes to pan for the shiny flakes in pris­tine water near Trap­per Creek. Spend a half-day or full-day in the gor­geous Alas­ka coun­try­side with your guide, who will share old-timer pan­ning tech­niques and sto­ries from the dra­mat­ic days of Alaska’s gold rush.

$550+ fly-in fishing day trip, $1,248+ overnight all-inclusive 1 - 6+ Nights

Explor­ing Alaska’s back­coun­try lakes, forests and rivers is a phe­nom­e­nal expe­ri­ence. Wilder­ness Place Lodge — tucked away on a remote riv­er north­west of Anchor­age — offers excel­lent access to near­ly any fresh­wa­ter fish you came to Alas­ka for, along with a unique eco-trav­el expe­ri­ence that comes with a high lev­el of ser­vice, a vari­ety of non-fish­ing activ­i­ties and the mel­low free­dom to cre­ate an Alaskan expe­ri­ence that suits your own taste.

Difficulty: Moderate

Locat­ed one-third of the way from Palmer to Wasil­la, this 33-mile trail sys­tem mean­ders through bore­al for­est, farm­land, and the rolling moraines left by the glac­i­ers of the last Ice Age. The trails are some of the only non-moun­tain, non-motor­ized path­ways in the area, and they’re pop­u­lar with dog walk­ers, moun­tain bik­ers, geo-cachers, cross-coun­try skiers, run­ners, and equestrians.

Season: Year Round $575 full day fishing, $1200+ all-inclusive multi-day packages 8 hrs - Multi-Days

The North­woods Lodge is a remote lodge where vis­i­tors can find them­selves in a 45 minute flight from Anchor­age. The lodge spe­cial­izes in guid­ed fish­ing, and guests can enjoy 8 to 10 hours of fish­ing a day if they choose. Guides help you spin or fly fish for tro­phy king salmon, sil­ver and sock­eye salmon, or res­i­dent rain­bow trout, arc­tic grayling and north­ern pike

Explore the expan­sive grav­el beds or mean­der along the mighty Matanus­ka-Susit­na Riv­er and link up with the Mat­su Riv­er Park trails, locat­ed in the trees to the west.

$190+ 5 - 8 hours

Fish more of the hot spots with Phan­tom Char­ters, a fam­i­ly com­pa­ny run by folks who live to fish and bring a life­time of insid­er knowl­edge to your trip. Using spe­cial, shal­low-run­ning boats to get into hard-to-reach waters, they’ll take you to best riv­er fish­ing around Tal­keet­na. Wan­der the bank and cast for Sil­vers, Chums, Pinks, and Sock­eyes, or troll from behind the boat as well as shore fish for the Big Kings.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 16 miles Elevation Gain: 2900 feet

A straight­for­ward trip with big scenery pay­offs, like the pic­turesque Mint Hut and a val­ley dot­ted with hang­ing glac­i­ers. This trip is a great first back­pack­ing trip in Alas­ka with sim­ple logis­tics. It’s 16 miles with options for addi­tion­al miles and side trips.

Season: Sep 19 to May 09 $63+

Win­ter in Alas­ka is a mag­i­cal time, with few­er vis­i­tors and a serene, snow-cov­ered land­scape. If you’re here from mid-Sep­tem­ber to mid-May, you can take it in from the com­fort of the Auro­ra Win­ter Train, which runs between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It’s an easy and mem­o­rable way to trav­el north and expe­ri­ence the auro­ra bore­alis, or even do a week­end get­away to Talkeetna.

Season: Year Round $99+ per night

This inti­mate 4‑room B&B, just 45 min­utes from Anchor­age in charm­ing Palmer, is set on six gor­geous acres and comes with great views, deli­cious break­fasts, and hosts who are pas­sion­ate about mak­ing you feel right at home.

Season: Year Round $150+ 2+ hrs

Win­ter or sum­mer, expe­ri­ence the thrill of run­ning Idi­tar­od sled dogs and even have a chance to dri­ve! Meet the sled dogs and hear first-hand just what it’s like to run the Iditarod.

Season: Jun 01 to Aug 20 $120+ 3.5 to 4 Hours

If you’re new to white­wa­ter raft­ing or expe­ri­enced in shoot­ing through rapids, Lion’s Head makes for an excit­ing white­wa­ter raft­ing trip. You’ll spend 2.5 hours speed­ing down class II, III, and IV white­wa­ter, either pad­dling your­self or hang­ing on as your guide steers the raft down­stream. All the while, you’ll be pass­ing through gor­geous wilder­ness — wide-open vis­tas with mas­sive rock for­ma­tions — where you’ll have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to look for  ...more

Season: Year Round $125+

Enjoy your own pri­vate log cab­in in the wilder­ness, with all the mod­ern con­ve­niences, just an hour north of Anchor­age and min­utes from Wasil­la and Palmer. Nes­tled at the entrance to Hatch­er Pass in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains, your cozy log cab­in makes an ide­al base camp for all your Alaskan adventures!

A pre­mier pad­dling des­ti­na­tion in sum­mer, the eight-mile loop canoe trail through 14 lakes can be skat­ed after freeze-up and before sig­nif­i­cant snow­fall. Peo­ple often cruise the entire route in one long day, or skate out a few lakes and return. Be pre­pared to hike portages up to a half-mile between lakes. 71 miles north of Anchorage.

Vis­i­ble out­side the win­dows of the Mat-Su Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earth­quake. Lit­er­al­ly overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pas­ture­land became salt flats and marsh­land. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habi­tat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are pro­tect­ed in the refuge, which is a pop­u­lar recre­ation and wildlife-viewing…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 2200 feet

About a half a mile past where the road turns sharply left (by the old Moth­er­lode Restau­rant) is a pull off on the left and archangel road to the right. The road is dirt, and in the sum­mer­time you can dri­ve the trail for a mile or two, but it is pit­ted with deep holes and rocks. After a mile or two, a park­ing area and trail turns off to the right. Here the trail con­tin­ues with lit­tle ele­va­tion gain ini­tial­ly, but after a mile or so you will  ...more

$150+ 3 hrs

Feel the thrill of explor­ing the Alaskan wilder­ness while dri­ving your own snow­mo­bile over the tun­dra, look­ing for wildlife and tak­ing in amaz­ing views. And on a clear day you’ll get an amaz­ing view of Denali.

Season: Jun 12 to Aug 15
$2262+ per person
2 – 4 Nights
Land Package Type: Guided Backcountry Adventures

This amaz­ing adven­ture com­bines two wilder­ness lodges, fine cui­sine, a float plane ride, heli-glac­i­er tour and guid­ed riv­er fish­ing – all with­in a con­ve­nient 100-mile radius of Anchorage!

$99 2 hrs

Noth­ing gets your heart pound­ing like zoom­ing high above a glacial­ly carved val­ley. The Nitro and G2 are two of the longest zips in Alas­ka, and the G2 is the fastest in the state. You’ll get the most amaz­ing minute or so of sight-see­ing you’ve ever had, glid­ing up to a half mile near the Matanus­ka Riv­er, and into the forest­ed area around Matanus­ka Glacier.

Season: Year Round $230+ 1 to 2 hrs

While you may nev­er join the ranks of climbers who have sum­mit­ed Denali, an up-close view of North Amer­i­ca’s tallest peak can still be yours. K2 Avi­a­tion offers once-in-a-life­time flight­see­ing tours among and above the Alas­ka Range. Add a glac­i­er land­ing to get a sense of how immense these peaks real­ly are.

Distance: 7 miles Elevation Gain: 3300 feet

Begin­ning almost 120 miles north­east of Anchor­age on the Glenn High­way, the trail to the sum­mit of Gun­sight Moun­tain takes a while to reach. After all, it involves a 3.5‑mile, 3,300-foot climb through some very big coun­try. But the view from the top makes for an all-day excur­sion that you won’t eas­i­ly forget.

Difficulty: Difficult

Dur­ing peri­ods of clear weath­er, this route through Denali State Park offers sim­i­lar ter­rain and scenery to Denali Nation­al Park — includ­ing unpar­al­leled views of Denali — with­out the cum­ber­some per­mit­ting process. This trail sys­tem offers many options for start­ing and end­ing points, as there are four trail­heads along its length. 

Syn­cline Moun­tain fea­tures two sum­mits— whichev­er you choose, you’ll hike beneath a whole lot of sky and look out on a whole lot of country.

Season: Aug 27 to Sep 07

For over 75 years, the Alas­ka State Fair has been a gath­er­ing place for all Alaskans, and a last hur­rah” before sum­mer gives way to the long Alas­ka winter.What start­ed as a cel­e­bra­tion for the Mat-Su colonists in 1936 has grown into the state’s largest annu­al event. Each year, hun­dreds of thou­sands of fair­go­ers enjoyed night­ly con­certs fea­tur­ing head­line enter­tain­ers in the AT&T Con­cert Series, car­ni­val rides and games, hun­dreds of…  ...more

Some 50 miles north of Anchor­age, this 1.5‑mile trail makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. From the pic­nic table at the upper­most end of the trail, you’ll find a sat­is­fy­ing panoram­ic view of the Matanus­ka Riv­er and Knik Riv­er val­leys. It’s a view as good, or bet­ter, than that from many summits.

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $99 per person

Go for a relax­ing 3‑hour float trip down gen­tle Wil­low Creek as you take in the gor­geous scenery of the Alaskan back­coun­try. Depart­ing from Pio­neer Lodge, just off the Parks High­way south of Tal­keet­na, you’ll board a raft with up to 6 oth­ers and an expert guide. Then just kick back, or grab a pad­dle if you like: You can expect easy-glid­ing Class I and II rapids on this gen­tle river.

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 5670 feet

No offi­cial trail in South­cen­tral Alas­ka climbs as high as Matanus­ka Peak Trail. Begin­ning in a sub­di­vi­sion across the Matanus­ka Riv­er from Palmer, this near­ly 6‑mile-long trail runs up some 5,700 ver­ti­cal feet. Your des­ti­na­tion is the 6,119-foot sum­mit of Matanus­ka Peak, the very promi­nent rock spire that fills the sky just east of Palmer. But despite the impos­ing appear­ance of this moun­tain, the trail to its sum­mit requires no extensive  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

Why Take This Hike This trail, locat­ed 90 min­utes north of Anchor­age just across the Matanus­ka Riv­er from down­town Palmer, makes no pre­tense about its pur­pose. Almost imme­di­ate­ly after leav­ing the park­ing area, it begins to climb straight up the steep west face of Lazy Moun­tain. For some 2,000 feet, there’s nary a switch­back or respite as the trail winds up to the sum­mit ridge. It’s a tru­ly breath­less work­out. The Details Out of Palmer,…  ...more

Season: May 25 to Aug 31 $99+ per person 3 hrs

The loca­tion of this ATV adven­ture is the mid­point between Anchor­age and Glen­nallen. Plen­ty of trav­el­ers dri­ve through this area with­out paus­ing for more than a pic­ture of the road­side glac­i­er, but Glac­i­er View ATV’s three-hour tour — the only ATV excur­sion in this part of Alas­ka — makes this tour well worth a longer stop. 

Sam­ple deli­cious syrup and sweets made from birch trees — like maple but not maple ‑at Kahilt­na Birch­works in Tal­keet­na — the world’s largest pro­duc­er of birch syrup. Stop in or shop online to expe­ri­ence this unique, local spin on a tempt­ing treat. Locat­ed at mile 1.1 of the Tal­keet­na Spur Rd, just off the Parks Highway

Where else can you walk to the end of Main Street and find your­self at the con­flu­ence of three wild rivers, over­look­ing a 20,000-foot peak? Close to down­town, this large, riv­er-cen­tered park offers wide open, untouched spaces, along with great panoram­ic view of the Alas­ka Range.

In Sum­mer (May — Sep­tem­ber), The Denali Star Train ser­vices Anchor­age, Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali and Fair­banks. In Win­ter (Octo­ber — April) the Auro­ra Win­ter Train oper­ates as a flag top train between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It stops here head­ing North on Sat­ur­day, and South on Sun­day. Hur­ri­cane Turn ser­vices areas near Tal­keet­na as a flagstop on a lim­it­ed sched­ule year-round.

In Sum­mer (May — Sep­tem­ber), The Denali Star Train ser­vices Anchor­age, Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali and Fair­banks. In Win­ter (Octo­ber — April) the Auro­ra Win­ter Train oper­ates as a flag top train between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It stops here head­ing North on Sat­ur­day, and South on Sunday.

Season: May 01 to Sep 30

In down­town Tal­keet­na you can meet local artists, gold min­ers, and intre­pid moun­taineers, along with some of the town’s orig­i­nal home­stead­ers, like Don Devore. He and his wife Mavis offer homey lodg­ing options at Denali Fire­side Cab­ins & Suites with­in walk­ing dis­tance to Talkeetna’s var­ied activ­i­ties. Their facil­i­ty is sparkling clean, well main­tained, and beau­ti­ful­ly decorated.

Season: May 20 to Sep 16 $64+ 2.5 to 4.5 hrs

Explore Alas­ka on foot — take a scenic day hike into the South Denali area. Choose one of 3 great hikes; from an easy, 2‑mile stroll to a mod­er­ate­ly stren­u­ous 5½-hour hike. You’ll get spec­tac­u­lar views and see plen­ty of wildlife as you trek with your expe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist guide. Depend­ing on the hike you may pass pris­tine lakes, see an old pioneer’s cab­in, catch a glimpse of Mt. McKin­ley, and even have the chance to spot for­ag­ing bears. These  ...more

Just a 45-minute dri­ve from Anchor­age, Raven’s Perch lies with­in the main lodge at the cozy Knik Riv­er Lodge, with big win­dows and an out­door deck look­ing out to a spec­tac­u­lar view. The focus here is on local, sus­tain­able ingre­di­ents and prod­ucts. The staff talks with local farm­ers and plans ahead to see what veg­eta­bles are com­ing into sea­son to cre­ate their menus.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 10 miles Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

The 5‑mile-long Eska Falls Trail is locat­ed a 2‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age in the moun­tains above the town of Sut­ton. And it leads to one of nature’s sym­met­ri­cal­ly framed won­ders — a 100-foot water­fall locat­ed at the end of a mile-long val­ley that’s flanked by two mas­sive sum­mits. This set­ting makes Eska Falls not so much a hike to a des­ti­na­tion as much as a hike to a presentation.

This recre­ation area is just a mile and a half from town, but it feels like wilder­ness — with deep woods and sev­er­al lakes, it’s a great place to hike, run, canoe, fish, or look for wildlife. Watch for otters, beavers, bears, fox­es, moose, and more than 100 species of birds, includ­ing rap­tors and loons. The park’s best fea­ture is a nice­ly groomed 3.5‑mile walk­ing trail around X Lake through lush old-growth for­est. Cus­tom log bench­es are a nice…  ...more

Some 15,000 years ago, this glac­i­er reached anoth­er 50 miles west to the Palmer area. It now has a four-mile wide tow­er­ing face that you can walk right up to and touch. Keep an eye out for sum­mer­time ice-climbers at this most impres­sive road­side glac­i­er. Direc­tions: Head north from Anchor­age on the Glenn High­way. At mile 102, you can dri­ve down to Glac­i­er Park and pay a day fee (8882534480), then hike 15 – 20 min­utes to the face of  ...more

UPDATE: The camp­ground will be tem­porar­i­ly closed begin­ning in 2020 due to the dan­ger posed by trees infest­ed with spruce-bark bee­tles. Rot­ting trees have been top­pling. State parks plans to reopen the camp­ground after the haz­ardous trees have been removed. Camp­ing by this 108-acre lake inside the Nan­cy Lake State Recre­ation Area near Wil­low feels like you’ve reached the end of the road. To the west stretch­es unbro­ken wilder­ness to the Alaska  ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 15 $95+ 4 to 6 hrs

Expe­ri­ence the thrill of walk­ing or climb­ing on a glac­i­er. The Matanus­ka is Alaska’s largest road-acces­si­ble glac­i­er, and it’s just 90 min­utes from Anchor­age, so it’s an easy way to get up close and per­son­al with these amaz­ing nat­ur­al won­ders. You don’t need to be expe­ri­enced in either activ­i­ty — just be in good shape and up for adven­ture. You’ll either walk around on the glac­i­er with cram­pons or learn how to use an ice axe and safe­ly work your  ...more

Season: Apr 17 to Oct 31 $255+ Half, Full, and Multi-Day

With Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­ture Tours, you can expe­ri­ence glac­i­ers inac­ces­si­ble by road. Nev­er fear if you’ve nev­er dri­ven an before; this com­pa­ny teach­es you to maneu­ver your ATV through the Alaskan wilder­ness with your guide at the lead. Your des­ti­na­tion is the mag­nif­i­cent Knik Glac­i­er, where you’ll enjoy lunch and gor­geous scenery.

$225+ 3-9 hours

Explore the rivers of south­cen­tral Alas­ka on a float or fish­ing trip guid­ed by Hell Bent Fish­ing Char­ters. Raft along a scenic riv­er hid­ing away just min­utes off the road sys­tem. It fits per­fect­ly into a half day or full day, when you want to step out of the hus­tle and bus­tle of your vaca­tion and into authen­tic Alaska.

Difficulty: Easy

With a length of just 1.5 miles and a sum­mit reach­ing only 874 feet, West Butte Trail on Boden­burg Butte — a 45-minute dri­ve north of Anchor­age — makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. But even if you’re a more expe­ri­enced hik­er, don’t let the butte’s dwarf-like height dis­suade you. This small bump in the cen­ter of a grand allu­vial plain offers far-reach­ing views from its sum­mit; plus, the climb includes a pulse-quick­en­ing 0.25 miles of stairs up the steep  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 5200 feet

Are you a moun­tain run­ner look­ing for a tough work­out? Con­sid­er Pio­neer Ridge Trail. This trail, locat­ed a 1‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age on scenic Knik Riv­er Road, climbs some 5,200 feet over its 6 miles. Oth­er trails, like Lazy Moun­tain Trail and Mount Marathon Race Route, may be steep­er or rock­i­er, but no trail in the Chugach Moun­tains climbs so steadi­ly for so long as Pio­neer Ridge.

$169+

Dis­cov­er cozy cab­ins, great food, and big Alaskan adven­tures at this inti­mate lodge that sits on the edge of the wilder­ness yet is super-acces­si­ble from Anchor­age. It lies tucked in at the back of the Knik Riv­er Val­ley and at the end of Knik Riv­er Road, where Alaska’s real wilder­ness opens up, with moun­tain and riv­er views — but with­out a flight or long dri­ve. It’s the per­fect place to escape for a few days, with lots of activ­i­ties avail­able from  ...more

$99+

This lodge offers spec­tac­u­lar views of Mount McKin­ley and is sit­u­at­ed with­in Denali State Park on the banks of the Chulit­na Riv­er. Rooms offer nine-foot ceil­ings and fans; some offer amaz­ing moun­tain views. When you’re not in your room, relax in the Great Room with its huge stone fire­place and floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows. Or, step out­side and stroll one of the three nature trails, either on your own or on a guid­ed, park ranger-led walk.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 10 miles

It’s not very often that peo­ple can see a glac­i­er in an untamed and remote loca­tion, far from any road or cruise-ship route. But if you feel capa­ble and con­fi­dent enough to climb a very rough trail up many ver­ti­cal feet of rocky ter­rain, then you might con­sid­er under­tak­ing the hike to Snow­bird Pass, locat­ed high in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains just north of Hatch­er Pass. From this van­tage point you can look down the entire length of Snow­bird Glacier.  ...more

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

$11 40 - 45 min

Locat­ed 45 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Musk Ox farm project was con­ceived in the 1950s as an agrar­i­an oppor­tu­ni­ty for vil­lagers in West­ern Alas­ka; today it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at an ani­mal (and a way of life) that was per­ilous­ly close to extinc­tion. You can take a 30- to 40-minute tour of the farm and see some 70 musk ox. Since they’re friend­ly crea­tures, they may come right up to the fence to greet you.

Season: Year Round $99+ Summer | $169+ Winter 1 - 8 hours

Expe­ri­ence the excite­ment of rac­ing cham­pi­on sled dogs at the Alas­ka Mush­ing School, just 75 min­utes from Anchor­age. Get a professional’s insight into the mush­ing lifestyle as you ride behind a team of ener­getic sled dogs on trails con­nect­ed to the famous Idi­tar­od route. Bun­dle up and ride in com­fort, or brave the cold and dri­ve the team yourself!

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 3700 feet

Begin­ning a 1‑hour dri­ve north of Anchor­age in Gov­ern­ment Hill Recre­ation Area, Gov­ern­ment Peak Race Trail offers a fine oppor­tu­ni­ty for a hard work­out; it climbs some 3,700 ver­ti­cal feet in just 3 miles. Plus, this climb doesn’t include any extra­or­di­nary dan­gers. (A friend refers to one short ledge on this trail as death rock,” but she tends to exag­ger­ate.) Some sec­tions require spe­cial care to nego­ti­ate, but you won’t have to tra­verse any  ...more

Just after Petersville (at Mile 34) the road gets rough, but you can head less than one mile to this turn­around where a trail” heads into Denali State Park. It’s used by four-wheel­ers and looks like a road, but it does turn into a trail. Hike it, away from the min­ing activ­i­ty and riv­er, and you’ll see Denali. This view was made famous by Alas­ka land­scape painter Syd­ney Lau­rence, who cre­at­ed the paint­ing from his near­by cabin.

Bald Lake Cab­in is a great choice for peo­ple who want to stay at an Alas­ka wilder­ness cab­in on a pris­tine lake, but don’t want to trav­el far to get there. On the hill­side over­look­ing iso­lat­ed Bald Lake, the cab­in offers seclu­sion and pri­va­cy only a short walk from your vehi­cle. It’s a best of both worlds” kind of place — where you can spend the day explor­ing a vir­tu­al­ly pri­vate lake with inter­est­ing bays, or quick­ly dash back to your vehi­cle to  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Look­ing to break up your dri­ve with a jog or bike ride? This lit­tle-used, 2‑mile sec­tion of the for­mer Glenn High­way has lit­tle to no traf­fic. Rocks and shrubs are creep­ing onto the road sur­face in places. It’s qui­et, scenic, and hilly. The road­way is offi­cial­ly closed in the mid­dle but easily-passable. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Year round, multi­use trails that form a loop between the town of Tal­keet­na, the Tal­keet­na Riv­er and the rolling hills that lie east of town 

The house is an orig­i­nal Colony Farm House” built express­ly for the New Deal reset­tle­ment project spon­sored in 1935 by the Roo­sevelt Admin­is­tra­tion. Vis­i­tors will learn the his­to­ry of the Colony project, often first hand, from descen­dants of the orig­i­nal colonists who staff the house and serve as tour guides. The house is fur­nished ca. 1935 – 45, dis­play­ing some orig­i­nal fur­nish­ings sup­plied by Sears and Roe­buck for the…  ...more

His­to­ry, fun, and mas­sive por­tions of food come togeth­er at this insti­tu­tion, which was built over 3 years start­ing in 1914. Aside from stop­ping by for a bite to eat, you can book accom­mo­da­tions at the Tal­keet­na Road­house. Choose from a vari­ety of cozy rooms in the main road­house and wake up the smell of fresh baked goods from the Kitchen in the morn­ing. Or, for a more pri­vate expe­ri­ence, book one of the cab­ins out back or the Muse­um Apartment  ...more

Stop into this small log cab­in near the end of Main Street Tal­keet­na to find hand­craft­ed Alaskan made goods. You’ll find prod­ucts rang­ing from Dev­il’s Club salves, goat milk soaps, organ­ic teas & herbs, and stoneware pot­tery made right here in the Upper Susit­na Val­ley. They’re also the first com­pa­ny in Alas­ka to offer a line of Hemp Seed Oil balms, soaps, and oils. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Flathorn Lake Trail is approx­i­mate­ly 21 miles long and tra­vers­es the vast wet­lands of the Susit­na Flats Game Refuge and rolling hills of the Fish Creek water­shed. The trail allows snow­ma­chin­ers, dog mush­ers and skiers to trav­el from the Point MacKen­zie area to the Susit­na Sta­tion’ on the Susit­na Riv­er. The trail cross­es the Lit­tle Susit­na Riv­er, through a maze of frozen swamps and ponds, along Fish Creek, across Flathorn Lake before heading…  ...more

This log cab­in with a pitched roof and panoram­ic win­dows sits on a bluff beside the high­way and is easy to miss. But be sure to stop in for advice on your vis­it to the Mat-Su. There’s an infor­ma­tion­al video run­ning inside, plus a bevy of vol­un­teers who have at least 60 years com­bined expe­ri­ence in the area. Where should I eat din­ner? What tour should I take for wildlife view­ing? Where’s the best camp­ground? They help­ful locals here will help…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

How to get There­Ac­cess to the Lake Lucille Park Trail Sys­tem is locat­ed at the north end of Endeav­or Road in Wasil­la. From Wasil­la — go south on the Knik-Goose Bay Road, 2 miles from Wasil­la take a right on Endeav­or Street and fol­low it for 12 mile to the park entrance and park­ing areas.General Descrip­tion­Lake Lucille Park has approx­i­mate­ly 1.6 miles (2.5 kilo­me­ters) of trails built around the perime­ter of the park and con­nect­ing the athletic…  ...more

This small his­toric cab­in was built in 1930 in the Nor­we­gian style — with hand-hewn logs and lock-lap notch­es with­out nails or spikes — and today it’s owned by local res­i­dents Tom and Margie Waite. The Indi­an fra­grance nag cham­pa wafts over you as you browse Tal­keet­na’s most orig­i­nal col­lec­tion of native art­work; Margie’s Aleut ances­try has giv­en her great con­nec­tions and insight into native cul­ture. Look up on the walls and you’ll see a squirrel…  ...more

These two almost iden­ti­cal cab­ins (only 200 feet apart) are aimed toward adven­tur­ers and fam­i­lies who want to include both pad­dling and hik­ing in their dai­ly adven­tures. They offer direct access to two lakes as well as the park’s trail sys­tem. Though rel­a­tive­ly close, each cab­in is col­ored by a slight­ly dif­fer­ent atmos­phere. Lynx 2’s porch faces the sun­set, with good after­noon sun and a view of Lynx Lake. It feels open, more exposed. Lynx 3  ...more

At the Gov­ern­ment Peak Recre­ation area you will find an exten­sive trail sys­tem for nordic ski­ing, walk­ing, hik­ing, fat tire bik­ing, and moun­tain bik­ing. The newest addi­tion is a Chalet that is avail­able to warm win­ter vis­i­tors. It’s also avail­able for rent.

This annu­al win­ter fes­ti­val, in exis­tence for more than 50 years, is held on back-to-back week­ends at the end of Jan­u­ary and begin­ning of Feb­ru­ary. With the state’s biggest win­ter fire­works dis­play, $1,000 bin­go cash pots, sled dog races, tal­ent con­tests, foot races and fat-tire bike races, the fes­ti­val is a region­al draw and a fun place for trav­el­ers to see Alaskans cut loose.The car­ni­val kicks off with a din­ner at the com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter, where…  ...more

Housed in a one-room log cab­in, this muse­um and vis­i­tor cen­ter packs a lot into its small space. Learn about Aht­na Athabas­can natives, explore min­ing and trap­ping his­to­ry, and check out the his­to­ry of the fas­ci­nat­ing Colony project — a New Deal pro­gram that brought 204 farm fam­i­lies to Alas­ka. You can also pick up tour books and maps, or ask the knowl­edge­able staff about area attrac­tions. The museum’s per­ma­nent col­lec­tion spans the development…  ...more

Just south of the Cari­bou Creek bridge near mile mark­er 104 on the Glenn High­way in the shad­ow of the Lion’s Head rock for­ma­tion, look for the turnoff for the Cari­bou Creek Recre­ation­al Min­ing Area. You are not going to get fab­u­lous­ly rich here and be the next star of the TV real­i­ty show Gold Rush, but you do have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to car­ry a gold pan and shov­el, hike the steep half-mile-long trail down to the creek, and pan for gold.

Don’t miss the old trap­per’s cab­in at Byers Lake. Most Sour­doughs — that means old-time Alaskans — don’t even know it’s there. Hid­den in trees along the lakeshore trail, the old Bee­man cab­in stands as a reminder of sim­pler times. Peek in the win­dows and imag­ine liv­ing there all win­ter. Now part of Denali State Park, it’s an easy 10-minute walk from the main park­ing lot.

Difficulty: Easy

At its peak, the Inde­pen­dence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 work­ers and 16 fam­i­lies who lived high above tree line. Dig­ging and blast­ing, these work­ers recov­ered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. There are 1.5 miles of paved walk­ways through­out the site, with infor­ma­tion­al plac­ards for a self-guid­ed tour. 

Difficulty: Easy

This trail is in Inde­pen­dence Mine State His­tor­i­cal Park and is a self-guid­ed hike. This is one of many trails sur­round­ing Inde­pen­dence Mine. 

Trans­port your­self to the Alas­ka of the past in this muse­um and his­toric town site. Check out min­ing digs as you trav­el down stairs paint­ed like an old mine shaft. Then learn about the hard-rock gold min­ing in Hatch­er Pass dur­ing the 1930s. View arti­facts from Athabas­cans, learn about dog mush­ing, and walk through a his­toric dentist’s office. The main muse­um build­ing, once a com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter for bas­ket­ball games and church ser­vices, now tells…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Danc­ing Leaf Gallery. Own­ers Sta­cy and Troy Smi­ley built this shop new for 2011! The large build­ing fea­tures Sta­cy’s sig­na­ture batiks and silk screens done right here in Tal­keet­na from her own linoleum block print. Sta­cy is also known for her mixed media jew­el­ry, like neclaces of a neck­lace of pearl, glass, wood, stone and metal.

Difficulty: Moderate

Choose between four hik­ing trails on the McKin­ley Princess prop­er­ty, from easy to stren­u­ous, and explore the Alaskan wilder­ness, with great views and wildlife.

Alaskans love win­ter recre­ation, and this race is a tes­ta­ment to the cold-weath­er fanat­ics of the far north. Fol­low­ing por­tions of the orig­i­nal Idi­tar­od trail and the frozen Susit­na Riv­er, this 100-mile race is open to bik­ers, run­ners, and cross-coun­try skiers. Set in Feb­ru­ary on President’s Day week­end, the rac­ers deal with 13 hours of dark­ness and what­ev­er the win­ter ele­ments might be that week: minus-20 degree temps, snow, wind, or maybe…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 15 miles Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

This trail leads to numer­ous mines in the area. This is a great place to explore old min­ing sites and get some pic­tures, as well as gold pan. This is a good day hike and can be long or short depend­ing on what you want to do. Be sure to take the whole fam­i­ly on this one!

Descrip­tion­Lo­cat­ed between the Chugach and Tal­keet­na Moun­tain ranges, The Alpine His­tor­i­cal Park pro­vides com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, as well as vis­i­tors from far or near, a look back in time to under­stand the her­itage and cul­tures of the ear­ly set­tlers of this area. The Park is a place for fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, often being used for gath­er­ings, par­ties, busi­ness events, com­mu­ni­ty pic­nics and many oth­er events, as there is no com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter in…  ...more

Ded­i­cat­ed to the tech­nol­o­gy that opened the Last Fron­tier, this muse­um is a gearhead’s dream. And it’s pret­ty darned inter­est­ing even if you aren’t into trains, planes or heavy machin­ery. Set on 20 acres, you can wan­der through old train cars, around com­mer­cial fish­ing boats and cars and explore old farm and oil machin­ery. Or head inside and learn about Alas­ka Pio­neer­ing women, gold min­ing and avi­a­tion. Only four miles from down­town Wasilla,…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed north of Wasil­la about 45 min­utes on the west side of the Parks Hwy. Lakes are all con­nect­ed with trails, and make for a great day of canoe­ing. They can also be skied in the win­ter and camp­grounds are avail­able as well. This hike can only be done in win­ter or the lakes will not be frozen enough to walk on.

Difficulty: Moderate

The Tal­keet­na Mail Trail and Cen­tral Trail are year round, mul­ti-use trails that run north south between Wil­low Creek and the Kash­wit­na Riv­er. The trails were orig­i­nal­ly used for haul­ing mail, but recent log­ging has opened new access and short dead-end trails lead­ing both east and west. Some of the trail cross­es wet areas that are sen­si­tive to heavy use. Plans are under­way to hard­en or relo­cate por­tions of the trail to bet­ter accom­mo­date year…  ...more

In the 1950s, an Anchor­age fam­i­ly worked tire­less­ly at their dream of build­ing a ski resort here at the base of Gun­sight Moun­tain. They built a small chalet and erect­ed a rope tow. But financ­ing was always a prob­lem. Busi­ness did not boom. Today, the chalet is all that’s left of their efforts.

Difficulty: Moderate

A win­ter trail sys­tem con­sist­ing of a series of loops that allow dog mush­ers (and oth­er non­mo­tor­ized trail users) to trav­el 3, 5, 7, 10, 12 or 16 miles depend­ing on the route one takes. The trails tra­verse large swamps and Black Spruce forests and are gen­er­al­ly wide enough for one dog sled (3 – 5’). In some places along the trails the tracks are wide enough for two sleds to pass. The trails must be trav­eled in a spe­cif­ic direc­tion to avoid…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

This trail is the north­ern­most trail that pro­vides access to Kesu­gi Ridge. On a clear day, Lit­tle Coal Creek Trail takes you to amaz­ing views of Denali (Mt. McKin­ley). It also gives you those views in the short­est amount of time, about 1.5 hours, of any of the access trails to Kesu­gi Ridge.

Difficulty: Moderate

This is part of the Chick­aloon-Knik-Nelchi­na Trail Sys­tem. The trail then goes to the left about a mile to a high cliff that over­looks Kings Riv­er. This trail gives hunters access to game coun­try which keeps the trail free of brush but makes mud holes mud­di­er. The first part of the trail is good for the whole fam­i­ly but gets more dif­fi­cult as it con­tin­ues on.

This hand­some, well-sea­soned log cab­in is the post­card for your pub­lic use cab­in dreams. If they filmed Alas­ka Pub­lic Use Cab­ins — The Movie,” the pro­duc­ers would have a hard time find­ing a bet­ter place than James Lake for the setting.

14′ x 16′ Cab­in on Byers Lake that sleeps up to 6.

Right next to the Tal­keet­na His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety, this orig­i­nal trap­pers cab­in” gives you an inte­ri­or look at traps, antique tins, a wash­tub, and furs, offer­ing a sense of how these pio­neers lived. And Olé is quite the char­ac­ter: he came to Alas­ka in 1916 and worked as a log­ger, sur­vey­or, and gold min­er. His grand­kids still attend the local schools.

Difficulty: Easy

The hik­ing here is most­ly flat with a few forest­ed hills, and there are nice views from the fields over­look­ing Matanus­ka Lake. For begin­ner hik­ers and bik­ers, this is the best place in the green­belt for easy walks.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

Part of the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, this trail mean­ders through tidal flats and wet­lands. High­lights are great views of the moun­tains sur­round­ing Palmer (Pio­neer Peak, the Chugach and Tal­keet­na ranges) and excel­lent bird watching. 

Browse some of Alaska’s best hand­craft­ed art in this sum­mer­time out­door mar­ket. The artists man their own booths, which gives you a chance to chat with peo­ple like Dora Miller, from Wil­low, Alas­ka, who makes beau­ti­ful jew­el­ry from Alaskan stone. The mar­ket is oper­at­ed by the Denali Arts Council.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

This one-mile trail around Reflec­tions Lake offers easy walk­ing year-round. Come with snow­shoes, skis, or ice skates dur­ing the win­ter months, or iden­ti­fy wild­flow­ers and for­est birds in sum­mer. Most­ly wood­ed, the trail does open up to views of the sur­round­ing moun­tains at one end of the lake, where the large for­est gives way to small­er trees and grass­es. Dawn and dusk here can be stun­ning, with sun­set col­ors play­ing across the water and on…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail is part of the his­toric Chick­aloon-Knik-Nelchi­na Trail Sys­tem and, in the ear­ly sum­mer, almost always has Dall sheep birthing low on the moun­tain sides. There are moose here all the time. Be care­ful when cross­ing Boul­der Creek.

Come try your luck at ice fish­ing dur­ing the month-long Mat-Su Val­ley Pike Der­by. Drill a hole and start jig­ging for pike, a large inva­sive species with a vora­cious appetite that grows to impres­sive lengths (win­ning fish are close to four feet long). Host­ed by orga­ni­za­tions from the town of Hous­ton, the der­by fea­tures prizes for the most fish caught, as well as the longest, heav­i­est, short­est, and light­est pike. The fish are cooked at the…  ...more

You’ll get stun­ning views of Knik Glac­i­er, the Knik Riv­er, and the Chugach moun­tain range. Watch for eagles, either con­vers­ing on the sand bars or soar­ing overhead.

Get a glimpe into the lives of Alaska’s ear­li­est pio­neers amidst arti­facts, maps, pic­tures and sto­ries depict­ing the rugged life of local gold min­ers, fur trap­pers, home­stead­ers and oth­er adven­tur­ers. The muse­um high­lights the his­to­ry of Trap­per Creek, Cache Creek Min­ing Dis­trict and Petersville Road. The Trap­per Creek area was set­tled in 1959 by a car­a­van of peo­ple who trav­eled from Michi­gan. Com­mon­ly referred to as the 59ers,” those who…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 4 miles

The trail begins at the end of Archangel road. It mean­ders through alders and brush, gain­ing ele­va­tion slow­ly at first. Even­tu­al­ly it will lead you to a cab­in up in the alpine meadows.

Locat­ed on an isth­mus between a shel­tered cove and the main body of a vast back­coun­try lake, Red Shirt Lake Cab­in 2 offers a basic, easy-to-heat base for explor­ing 1,186-acre Red Shirt Lake regard­less of weath­er. It gives a small par­ty no-fuss access to water, fuel and ski trails — a cozy space to relax when the day is done and the light begins its dying slant.

The Don Shel­don Moun­tain House may be the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar­ly sit­u­at­ed cab­in. Perched on a 4.9 acre rock and ice cov­ered out­crop locat­ed at the 5,800 foot lev­el, in the mid­dle of the Don Shel­don Amphithe­ater just above the Ruth Gorge, it is sur­round­ed on all sides by tow­er­ing gran­ite walls and glac­i­ers flow­ing off the flanks of Denali, less than 10 miles away. It’s used pri­mar­i­ly from March through Octo­ber by pho­tog­ra­phers, skiiers,  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This is the best way to see the Mat-Su Val­ley from a bird’s-eye view with­out get­ting in an airplane.The trail leads through cot­ton­wood trees until the end of the tree­line. Moose, bears, Dall sheep and Ptarmi­gan are seen along the trail occasionally. 

Mush­ing in Alas­ka is often a fam­i­ly activ­i­ty, with entire house­holds devot­ed to the feed­ing, train­ing, and care of dog ken­nels that can house more than 100 canines! Teenagers from these fam­i­lies, plus oth­er teens who have stum­bled into the world of mush­ing, com­pete in a 160-mile race the week­end pri­or to the start of the Idi­tar­od. It’s a small field, usu­al­ly under 15 peo­ple, and the race takes under 24 hours. You can catch the start of the…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This is a wheel­chair-acces­si­ble trail that is for walk­ers. This is not a chal­leng­ing run­ning trail. The trail offers a beau­ti­ful panora­ma of Three sis­ters, Pio­neer Peak, Knik Glac­i­er, Boden­burg Butte, and the Tal­keet­nas. The obser­va­tion deck over­looks Oke­son Pond. 

Distance: 4 miles

Beau­ti­ful ponds, water­falls, and moun­tain scenery make this a worth­while hike. Many birds, Arc­tic Ground Squir­rels and even a few ducks can be sight­ed enroute. The trail ends at Lane Hut at the end of the Val­ley. Extra explor­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties are everywhere! 

This riverbed trail fol­lows the Knik Riv­er towards the Knik Riv­er Glac­i­er, with Pio­neer Peak loom­ing above. Hike this trail and you’ll under­stand why Pio­neer Peak is called The Watch­er.” Head east towards the Chugach Moun­tains, mean­while, and you’ll get a glimpse of the Knik Glac­i­er, glit­ter­ing 20 miles in the distance. 

As this shop’s name would sug­gest, you’ll find beads of all kinds here: glass, ceram­ic, and crys­tal, just for starters. Own­er Beth Valen­tine grew up here in Tal­keet­na and trav­els to exot­ic places in search of beads with beau­ty and style. She also car­ries jew­el­ry, hand­bags, hats, plaques, and glass­ware from all over the world; it’s all locat­ed in a cute log cab­in with a sun­burst pat­tern locat­ed on the right as you enter town.

Palmer may look like it grew organ­i­cal­ly, like any oth­er town. But it was actu­al­ly designed by the gov­ern­ment as a planned agri­cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ty. In fact, Palmer was part of FDR’s New Deal Reset­tle­ment Projects dur­ing the Great Depres­sion: More than 200 fam­i­lies vol­un­teered to move to Alas­ka to try farm­ing in the Last Frontier!

What was it like to be an Alaskan sci­en­tist back in the 1940s? This site, on the south side of Palmer’s down­town, near Gulka­na and E. Fire­weed streets, will give you a pret­ty good idea. Back then, this two-sto­ry cement build­ing, the eight sim­ple cot­tages, and the arbore­tum were built by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Fair­banks and used by researchers study­ing how to increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in cold-weath­er crops.

The scenic, essen­tial 323-mile-long Parks High­way con­nects Anchor­age and Fair­banks, thread­ing its way past some of Alaska’s most icon­ic Alaskan areas, includ­ing Denali Nation­al Park and Mt. McKin­ley. But we’ll take you far beyond what you can see from the road. We’ll also show you some of the hid­den gems you wouldn’t find on your own, like an old trapper’s cab­in that offers a glimpse into Alaska’s past. We’ll let you in on cool trails to…  ...more

12′ x 16′ cab­in on shore of Byers Lake. Sleeps 6

Opened in 1923 to accom­mo­date trav­el­ers on the new Alas­ka Rail­road, the small inn found fame (or noto­ri­ety) quick­ly: Pres­i­dent War­ren G. Hard­ing came for lunch, and died just a few days lat­er. Today, the hotel is com­prised of six recent­ly ren­o­vat­ed rooms as well as a bar and live music venue. You’ll hear every­thing from jazz and folk to open mic nights and seri­ous rock-n-roll. At the very least, do a walk-through to enjoy some local col­or and…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

This is a short day hike, but a fan­tas­tic fish­ing spot. There are many lake trout, grayling and white­fish. It is one of the best fish­ing spots in the area. Fox, bear, moose and cari­bou are often seen in this area and there are good berryp­ick­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties along the trail. 

Difficulty: Easy

Get a real taste of Tal­keet­na by walk­ing a full loop around town. Start by strolling along the Susit­na Riv­er (down­stream) until you come to the end of the vil­lage airstrip. Then walk up D Street, which will bring you right back to Main Street. It’s a pop­u­lar route, so in the sum­mer you may well see peo­ple camp­ing, while in the win­ter peo­ple come here for snow­shoe­ing, ski­ing, dog mush­ing, and snowmachining.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 4 miles

This is the south­ern­most trail that leads to Kesu­gi Ridge. On aver­age, it takes a hik­er 4 hours to get above the tree­line. This trail is often closed due to flood­ing as well as bear activ­i­ty for the safe­ty of its hik­ers. Please check with Alaska’s Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources to make sure that the trail is open to hik­ers before start­ing this trip.

Locat­ed on the world-famous Idi­tar­od Trail and housed in one of the two remain­ing build­ings from Knik’s orig­i­nal town­site, the Knik Muse­um fea­tures the Sled Dog Mush­er’s Hall of Fame on the sec­ond floor. The muse­um build­ing was pre­vi­ous­ly used as a pool hall and road­house, and now con­tains a col­lec­tion of cloth­ing, dish­es, fur­ni­ture and arti­facts from Knik’s ear­li­er days. Oper­at­ed by the Wasil­la-Knik-Wil­low Creek Historical…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This is part of the his­toric Chick­aloon-Knik-Nelchi­na Trail Sys­tem and trav­els high to show hik­ers beau­ti­ful sights. It starts in thick for­est, but grad­u­al­ly climbs past lakes into wide open spaces. It used to be used to sup­ply gold min­ers with equipment. 

Red Shirt Cab­in 3 cel­e­brates the ancient spir­it of Red Shirt Lake as a gath­er­ing place. The lake once fea­tured large salmon runs and sum­mer camps for Dena’ina Native groups, and still hosts pri­vate cab­ins on its south­ern half. The cab­in may be per­fect for large par­ties in quest of lake action, a plat­form for those who want stren­u­ous days of pad­dling, fish­ing, swim­ming, and motor­ing fol­lowed by rous­ing evening campfires.

Home to a lit­tle gro­cery store and the West Rib Brew Pub, Nagleys also has inter­net access and a few camp­ing sup­plies upstairs. There’s a rich his­to­ry here: Nagleys sup­plied min­ers and trap­pers start­ing in 1921; you’ll see the antique store items lin­ing the walls. Rumor has it that the orig­i­nal own­er, Horace Nagley, kept the store open for busi­ness while rolling the build­ing on logs down Main Street to its cur­rent location.

Learn about this rur­al town’s native, gold min­ing, and avi­a­tion his­to­ry in this muse­um housed in a lit­tle red school house, as well as a num­ber of small­er, old rail­road build­ings. You’ll find out about ice roads and hors­es wear­ing snow shoes, how air­planes took over from trac­tors, as well as infor­ma­tion about bear traps, native arti­facts, and how folks sur­vived the harsh win­ters of the Susit­na Val­ley. Also, see some of the orig­i­nal trappers’…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

Crooked Lake Trail con­nects the Big Lake area with trails to the west and north. The trail heads west from Papoose Twins Lake Road and con­nects with the Iron Dog Trail, which then con­tin­ues on to the Susit­na Riv­er. The trail is approx­i­mate­ly 10 miles long from Papoose Twins Lake Road to the Iron Dog Trail. The trails tra­verse large swamps and ridges of mixed for­est. Crth­west for about 5 miles then turn­ing south­west for 7 ½ miles where it…  ...more

Sur­prise! This bridge over the Susit­na Riv­er appears with­out warn­ing, so if you want to stop and see this huge drainage, slow down and pull off the road at either end. Alaskans call it the Big Su. We fish it, pad­dle it, and snow machine its frozen braids. Bush pilots even nav­i­gate by this riv­er. The Susit­na Riv­er winds its way over 313 miles of South­cen­tral Alas­ka; this old rail­road bridge cross­es the water on the east­ern edge of Denali…  ...more

Tal­keet­na may have one of Alaska’s best adult play­grounds, as it hosts moun­tain climbers and adven­tur­ers from all over the world, but that doesn’t mean kids don’t fit in, too. A group of moth­ers got togeth­er in 2008 and built this play­ground, wor­thy of a fron­tier town. Con­struct­ed from rough-hewn tim­bers, the play area incor­po­rates mazes, cab­ins, swings, slides, and even art from local children. 

Difficulty: Difficult

Lion’s Head is famous through­out the state. This rock out­crop­ping is the promi­nent fea­ture beside the Matanus­ka Glac­i­er and is fea­tured in mag­a­zines and adver­tise­ments all over Alas­ka. And you can hike it! You’ve got to be in good shape and ready for a scram­bling, one-hour climb. You’ll be reward­ed by great views, look­ing down a 2,000-foot cliff face to the glac­i­er. You’re panora­ma will include views of the Matanus­ka Riv­er, Cari­bou Creek with…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This trail­head is just 100 yards from Matanus­ka Lake (the area’s most pop­u­lar lake), and is wheel­chair-acces­si­ble down to the lake and the fish­ing docks — it’s a great walk in the woods, past prime water­fowl habitat. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

This is one of four trails that lead to the high Kesu­gi Ridge along the Parks High­way about an hour north of Tal­keet­na. The trail begins in a forest­ed area and ends up above the tree line look­ing down on muli­ple drainages. The view at the top is won­der­ful, so bring a cam­era! It takes about 2 hours on aver­age to get above treeline. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

Two trails trav­el over the Mat-Su Col­lege lands; one from the col­lege and one from Snod­grass Hall. The Mat-Su Col­lege trail­head leads to a hilly loop and opens to beau­ti­ful views of Lazy Moun­tain, Twin Peaks, Boden­burge Butte, and Knik Glac­i­er — the best moun­tain views in the entire green­belt sys­tem. There are signs indi­cat­ing what you see in the dis­tance, as well as bench­es in a few areas. (Be pre­pared for con­struc­tion as the col­lege grows…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail fol­lows an old rail­road bed and is a great walk from down­town Palmer, with views of the Matanus­ka Riv­er and Chugach Range. Arrange for a shut­tle at Moose Creek if you want to make this a one-way, 6.1‑mile trip, to Moose Creek State Recre­ation Way­side Moose Creek State Recre­ation Wayside. 

Difficulty: Easy

A win­ter trail sys­tem con­sist­ing of two north-south trails and one east-west route that allow snow­ma­chin­ers, dog mush­ers and skiers to trav­el the area lying north of Petersville Road and west of the Parks High­way. The com­bined mileage of the trails is over 50 miles.

You’ll real­ly get a feel for Tal­keet­na in this lit­tle shop, since locals own and run it. You can see exclu­sive items by Tal­keet­na pho­tog­ra­ph­er Jim Trump and scrimshaw artist Mary Barr. And don’t miss the unusu­al ear­rings from a Tal­keet­na outdoorsman/​artisan; they’re made of beaver teeth and oth­er unique materials.

Difficulty: Easy

Just past Archangel Road, you will see a pull­out on the left. In the win­ter months, this is an extreme­ly pop­u­lar spot among back­coun­try skiers and snow­board­ers. How­ev­er, this steep, unmain­tained freestyle is not rec­om­mend­ed for novices. Dur­ing the sum­mer months the trails are used for moun­tain biking. 

The Offi­cial Race Start begins in the town of Wil­low on the first Sun­day in March. Come see the mush­ers head out on The Last Great Race” and get a feel for a small-town Alaskan win­ter. The race begins at 2 p.m., with mush­ers leav­ing the gate every two min­utes. Sev­er­al thou­sand fans show up to cheer on the 60 to 70 dog teams; ven­dors sell­ing food and sou­venirs set up at the Wil­low Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter. There’s usu­al­ly a shut­tle from Wasil­la, and…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

On this trail, sum­mer hik­ers get an impres­sion of the land much like what the old min­ers got. The trail is very brushy in areas, but the trail is not well-marked. It is a great ski trail in winter. 

Difficulty: Easy

This is a great hike for a fam­i­ly pic­nic. This is part of the Chick­aloon-Knik-Nelchi­na Trail System.This trail cov­ers fair­ly flat ter­rain through big cot­ton­wood trees.

The tiny town of Hous­ton triples its pop­u­la­tion (all the way up to 6,000!) dur­ing this one-day fam­i­ly-friend­ly blowout on the third Sat­ur­day in August. And the best part is that everything’s free! Kids’ games and boun­cy rooms, dunk tanks, fish­ing ponds, slides, and a BBQ…it’s all cov­ered by the folks of Hous­ton. The block par­ty-style fes­ti­val, which has been going on for at least 30 years, was start­ed for kids, and they’ve kept the focus on…  ...more

It’s hard to miss this shop — it’s the biggest log cab­in on Main Street. And the fam­i­ly who runs it knows Tal­keet­na well — they came here in 1959. Inside is a wide vari­ety of gifts: totem poles, gold-nugget jew­el­ry, quilts, Denali-themed trin­kets, and moose nugget lip balm (called lip chap” in rur­al Alas­ka). Woman also love the red hat ladies dis­play,” a nook filled with hats/​boas, high heels, jew­el­ry and oth­er red hat” style gifts. And it’s…  ...more

Explore its many branch­es and beau­ti­ful views. You’ll also be reward­ed with flat, gen­tle hik­ing, all with gor­geous views.

Difficulty: Difficult

If you have some seri­ous time and seri­ous ener­gy, take an adven­ture: hike the 20 miles out the Chase Trail to see what’s left of a lux­u­ry hotel built as a lay­over for the rail­road jour­ney between Seward and Fairbanks.

Be care­ful, it’s easy to miss this turn-off as you drop down the hill, but look out for the sign Cari­bou Creek Recre­ation­al Area.” This sel­dom-used camp­ground is a qui­et place to camp, away from high­way noise. It has fire rings and pic­nic tables, and there’s a trail to the creek. It’s a one-mile walk to the water. It’s a nice stream and it’s part of the State Recre­ation­al Gold Min­ing Area. So bring a pan and try your luck!

Difficulty: Easy

Stand on the beach at Tal­keet­na River­front Park and you may notice folks fish­ing on the point across the riv­er. You can get there too. Start by walk­ing up the Tal­keet­na riv­er and cross­ing over the mas­sive rail­road bridge. Imag­ine your­self back in the 1920s; Tal­keet­na was the most pop­u­lous city in Alas­ka, and the Rail­road com­mis­sion chose it to be the head­quar­ters for build­ing the rail line between Seward and Anchorage.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 12 miles

This amaz­ing trail sys­tem was start­ed by min­ers 50 years ago, and today they are main­tained by Sheep Moun­tain Lodge Sheep Moun­tain Lodge own­er Zack Steer. Zoom down Thriller on your moun­tain bike, enjoy a pic­nic with a view at the top of Corkscrew, search for a geo­cache site or come berry pick­ing in the fall. There are 12 miles of main­tained trails, which are groomed for cross-coun­try ski­ing in win­ter. Peak blue­ber­ry sea­son is from Aug. 15…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

With flat stretch­es and steep hills (that are groomed in win­ter), this trail is very pop­u­lar with moun­tain bik­ers, trail run­ners, and cross-coun­try skiers. It was built on land­fill, so as it expands, these trails will change. Most of it is rolling for­est that has cov­ered the grav­el­ly moraines left by retreat­ing glaciers.

If you want to climb Denali (Mt. McKin­ley), this is where you have to come to get your per­mit. Not a climber? Vis­it­ing is still a fas­ci­nat­ing les­son in moun­taineer­ing and Denal­i’s his­to­ry — from inter­pre­tive pro­grams to a tit­il­lat­ing video about climb­ing that shows through­out the day. The rus­tic and beau­ti­ful build­ing also hosts a per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of pho­tos of the Alas­ka Range. Pho­tog­ra­ph­er, explor­er, and sci­en­tist Brad­ford Wash­burn is…  ...more

Ide­al for those pad­dling, boat­ing, fish­ing, hik­ing as well as those look­ing for seclu­sion away from the lake’s more pop­u­lar routes for ski­ing and snow­mo­bil­ing. The cab­in faces the sun­set and may be the per­fect locale to string a ham­mock for long sum­mer after­noons lis­ten­ing to for­est birds.

12′ x 28′ road acces­si­ble cab­in that sleeps up to 6

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 5 miles

2019 UPDATE: Trail, day use area, kayak tours & rentals, and pub­lic use cab­ins are open, but the main camp­ground will be tem­porar­i­ly closed begin­ning in 2019 due to the dan­ger posed by trees infest­ed with spruce-bark bee­tles. Rot­ting trees have been top­pling. State parks plans to reopen the camp­ground after the haz­ardous trees have been removed. This is one of four trails that lead to Kesu­gi Ridge. From the Denali State Park camp­ground at  ...more

For lake­side adven­tures of all kinds — with canoe trails, pike fish­ing and wildlife view­ing near­by — try this 22,500-acre mul­ti-use park out­side Wil­low, fea­tur­ing 131 lakes and a net­work of trails. Its 13 pub­lic use cab­ins range from places that offer motor­boat access, to vehi­cle park­ing, to true wilder­ness refuges reach­able only by canoe or ski trail. Win­ter cre­ates a snow-sport mec­ca for cab­in users too — ski­ing, Nordic skat­ing, snow bik­ing and  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This trail fol­lows Trou­ble­some Creek .3 miles down to where it enters the broad, glacial grav­el bar of the Chuli­tan Riv­er. Mar­vel at the Ent-like Grandad­dy Cot­ton­wood, just five min­utes down the trail. The trail’s end has been swept away by floods, so it can be con­fus­ing, but the adven­tur­ous can keep going onto the Chulit­na’s grav­el bar to look for wildlife, tracks, or views of Denali. The large-leaved plants along the trail are Cow Parsnip and  ...more

The camp­ground is pret­ty open, since bark bee­tles killed the big, old spruce trees. The camp­sites attract RVers and campers, and each of the 24 sites has a fire ring and pic­nic table. There’s potable water at a hand pump. 

Difficulty: Easy

Very few hik­ers use this trail­head (most opt for the Matanus­ka Lakes Trail­head), but it’s a good walk. It’s also very pop­u­lar for anglers. Be pre­pared for a rut­ted grav­el access road, which may not be plowed in winter. 

March is the month to get out­side. The days are longer and the weath­er is start­ing to warm, but win­ter still has its icy grip. To avoid going stir crazy or for some good, clean Alaskan win­ter fun, head north to Trap­per Creek for the Cab­in Fever Reliev­er. Held the sec­ond Sat­ur­day in March in this pic­turesque small town (there are great views of Denali), the cel­e­bra­tion includes a pan­cake break­fast, a raf­fle, cross-coun­try ski races, games,  ...more

Peace-and-qui­et meets easy-access at this coun­try-style B&B on 10 acres in the heart of the Mat-Su Valley.The Gar­den Gate’s own­er, Karen Har­ris, start­ed the B&B back in 2002 when she opened her own home to guests— and she has been grad­u­al­ly expand­ing the B&B ever since, with sev­en cot­tages and a duplex-style build­ing in addi­tion to the main house.

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Points of Interest View All

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

In Sum­mer (May — Sep­tem­ber), The Denali Star Train ser­vices Anchor­age, Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali and Fair­banks. In Win­ter (Octo­ber — April) the Auro­ra Win­ter Train oper­ates as a flag top train between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It stops here head­ing North on Sat­ur­day, and South on Sunday.

Sam­ple deli­cious syrup and sweets made from birch trees — like maple but not maple ‑at Kahilt­na Birch­works in Tal­keet­na — the world’s largest pro­duc­er of birch syrup. Stop in or shop online to expe­ri­ence this unique, local spin on a tempt­ing treat. Locat­ed at mile 1.1 of the Tal­keet­na Spur Rd, just off the Parks Highway

Vis­i­ble out­side the win­dows of the Mat-Su Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earth­quake. Lit­er­al­ly overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pas­ture­land became salt flats and marsh­land. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habi­tat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are pro­tect­ed in the refuge, which is a pop­u­lar recre­ation and wildlife-viewing…  ...more

Some 15,000 years ago, this glac­i­er reached anoth­er 50 miles west to the Palmer area. It now has a four-mile wide tow­er­ing face that you can walk right up to and touch. Keep an eye out for sum­mer­time ice-climbers at this most impres­sive road­side glac­i­er. Direc­tions: Head north from Anchor­age on the Glenn High­way. At mile 102, you can dri­ve down to Glac­i­er Park and pay a day fee (8882534480), then hike 15 – 20 min­utes to the face of  ...more

Where else can you walk to the end of Main Street and find your­self at the con­flu­ence of three wild rivers, over­look­ing a 20,000-foot peak? Close to down­town, this large, riv­er-cen­tered park offers wide open, untouched spaces, along with great panoram­ic view of the Alas­ka Range.

Be care­ful, it’s easy to miss this turn-off as you drop down the hill, but look out for the sign Cari­bou Creek Recre­ation­al Area.” This sel­dom-used camp­ground is a qui­et place to camp, away from high­way noise. It has fire rings and pic­nic tables, and there’s a trail to the creek. It’s a one-mile walk to the water. It’s a nice stream and it’s part of the State Recre­ation­al Gold Min­ing Area. So bring a pan and try your luck!

Palmer may look like it grew organ­i­cal­ly, like any oth­er town. But it was actu­al­ly designed by the gov­ern­ment as a planned agri­cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ty. In fact, Palmer was part of FDR’s New Deal Reset­tle­ment Projects dur­ing the Great Depres­sion: More than 200 fam­i­lies vol­un­teered to move to Alas­ka to try farm­ing in the Last Frontier!

Just south of the Cari­bou Creek bridge near mile mark­er 104 on the Glenn High­way in the shad­ow of the Lion’s Head rock for­ma­tion, look for the turnoff for the Cari­bou Creek Recre­ation­al Min­ing Area. You are not going to get fab­u­lous­ly rich here and be the next star of the TV real­i­ty show Gold Rush, but you do have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to car­ry a gold pan and shov­el, hike the steep half-mile-long trail down to the creek, and pan for gold.

Just after Petersville (at Mile 34) the road gets rough, but you can head less than one mile to this turn­around where a trail” heads into Denali State Park. It’s used by four-wheel­ers and looks like a road, but it does turn into a trail. Hike it, away from the min­ing activ­i­ty and riv­er, and you’ll see Denali. This view was made famous by Alas­ka land­scape painter Syd­ney Lau­rence, who cre­at­ed the paint­ing from his near­by cabin.

In the 1950s, an Anchor­age fam­i­ly worked tire­less­ly at their dream of build­ing a ski resort here at the base of Gun­sight Moun­tain. They built a small chalet and erect­ed a rope tow. But financ­ing was always a prob­lem. Busi­ness did not boom. Today, the chalet is all that’s left of their efforts.

What was it like to be an Alaskan sci­en­tist back in the 1940s? This site, on the south side of Palmer’s down­town, near Gulka­na and E. Fire­weed streets, will give you a pret­ty good idea. Back then, this two-sto­ry cement build­ing, the eight sim­ple cot­tages, and the arbore­tum were built by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Fair­banks and used by researchers study­ing how to increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in cold-weath­er crops.

Difficulty: Easy

Stand on the beach at Tal­keet­na River­front Park and you may notice folks fish­ing on the point across the riv­er. You can get there too. Start by walk­ing up the Tal­keet­na riv­er and cross­ing over the mas­sive rail­road bridge. Imag­ine your­self back in the 1920s; Tal­keet­na was the most pop­u­lous city in Alas­ka, and the Rail­road com­mis­sion chose it to be the head­quar­ters for build­ing the rail line between Seward and Anchorage.

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Historic Parks & Sites View All

Descrip­tion­Lo­cat­ed between the Chugach and Tal­keet­na Moun­tain ranges, The Alpine His­tor­i­cal Park pro­vides com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, as well as vis­i­tors from far or near, a look back in time to under­stand the her­itage and cul­tures of the ear­ly set­tlers of this area. The Park is a place for fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, often being used for gath­er­ings, par­ties, busi­ness events, com­mu­ni­ty pic­nics and many oth­er events, as there is no com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter in…  ...more

Opened in 1923 to accom­mo­date trav­el­ers on the new Alas­ka Rail­road, the small inn found fame (or noto­ri­ety) quick­ly: Pres­i­dent War­ren G. Hard­ing came for lunch, and died just a few days lat­er. Today, the hotel is com­prised of six recent­ly ren­o­vat­ed rooms as well as a bar and live music venue. You’ll hear every­thing from jazz and folk to open mic nights and seri­ous rock-n-roll. At the very least, do a walk-through to enjoy some local col­or and…  ...more

What was it like to be an Alaskan sci­en­tist back in the 1940s? This site, on the south side of Palmer’s down­town, near Gulka­na and E. Fire­weed streets, will give you a pret­ty good idea. Back then, this two-sto­ry cement build­ing, the eight sim­ple cot­tages, and the arbore­tum were built by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Fair­banks and used by researchers study­ing how to increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in cold-weath­er crops.

Difficulty: Easy

At its peak, the Inde­pen­dence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 work­ers and 16 fam­i­lies who lived high above tree line. Dig­ging and blast­ing, these work­ers recov­ered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. There are 1.5 miles of paved walk­ways through­out the site, with infor­ma­tion­al plac­ards for a self-guid­ed tour. 

Right next to the Tal­keet­na His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety, this orig­i­nal trap­pers cab­in” gives you an inte­ri­or look at traps, antique tins, a wash­tub, and furs, offer­ing a sense of how these pio­neers lived. And Olé is quite the char­ac­ter: he came to Alas­ka in 1916 and worked as a log­ger, sur­vey­or, and gold min­er. His grand­kids still attend the local schools.

Difficulty: Difficult

If you have some seri­ous time and seri­ous ener­gy, take an adven­ture: hike the 20 miles out the Chase Trail to see what’s left of a lux­u­ry hotel built as a lay­over for the rail­road jour­ney between Seward and Fairbanks.

Palmer may look like it grew organ­i­cal­ly, like any oth­er town. But it was actu­al­ly designed by the gov­ern­ment as a planned agri­cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ty. In fact, Palmer was part of FDR’s New Deal Reset­tle­ment Projects dur­ing the Great Depres­sion: More than 200 fam­i­lies vol­un­teered to move to Alas­ka to try farm­ing in the Last Frontier!

His­to­ry, fun, and mas­sive por­tions of food come togeth­er at this insti­tu­tion, which was built over 3 years start­ing in 1914. Aside from stop­ping by for a bite to eat, you can book accom­mo­da­tions at the Tal­keet­na Road­house. Choose from a vari­ety of cozy rooms in the main road­house and wake up the smell of fresh baked goods from the Kitchen in the morn­ing. Or, for a more pri­vate expe­ri­ence, book one of the cab­ins out back or the Muse­um Apartment  ...more

In the 1950s, an Anchor­age fam­i­ly worked tire­less­ly at their dream of build­ing a ski resort here at the base of Gun­sight Moun­tain. They built a small chalet and erect­ed a rope tow. But financ­ing was always a prob­lem. Busi­ness did not boom. Today, the chalet is all that’s left of their efforts.

Sur­prise! This bridge over the Susit­na Riv­er appears with­out warn­ing, so if you want to stop and see this huge drainage, slow down and pull off the road at either end. Alaskans call it the Big Su. We fish it, pad­dle it, and snow machine its frozen braids. Bush pilots even nav­i­gate by this riv­er. The Susit­na Riv­er winds its way over 313 miles of South­cen­tral Alas­ka; this old rail­road bridge cross­es the water on the east­ern edge of Denali…  ...more

Don’t miss the old trap­per’s cab­in at Byers Lake. Most Sour­doughs — that means old-time Alaskans — don’t even know it’s there. Hid­den in trees along the lakeshore trail, the old Bee­man cab­in stands as a reminder of sim­pler times. Peek in the win­dows and imag­ine liv­ing there all win­ter. Now part of Denali State Park, it’s an easy 10-minute walk from the main park­ing lot.

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