Best Things To Do In Talkeetna

1. Flightsee Mt. Denali

Stunning views, glacier landings, helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft

Talkeetna is so close to Denali that mountaineers have used it as an operations base for decades. Getting to the mountain by small plane or helicopter is a lot easier though, with the same incredible views and options to fly all the way to the summit in just a little over an hour.

On these tours you can see both the north and south faces of Denali, along with other peaks and natural wonders formed by powerful geological forces: Ruth Gorge is deeper than the Grand Canyon, Kahiltna Glacier is 45-miles long and Wickersham Wall is a 14,000 foot continuous wall of rock and ice.

Flightseeing Denali is the fastest, most incredible way to gain perspective on the vastness of Alaska. Flights are available year-round, with glacier landings a popular summertime option.

Choose Your Denali Flightseeing Tour

2. Stroll Main Street

History, walking

Capture the feeling of bustling small-town Alaska in a stroll down Talkeetna’s Main Street, a 2-block journey through historic buildings, art shops, restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream stops and a micro-brewery.

Make sure to stop at Fairview Inn, opened in 1923 to serve railroad passengers, and which also famously served President Warren G. Harding just days before his death.

Talkeetna Roadhouse is also steeped in history, which you can literally eat up (their pancakes are made with a sourdough starter from 1902!). Rub elbows with locals and mountaineers alike at large round tables, browse newspaper clippings adorning the walls and don’t leave without a piece of homemade pie or a cinnamon roll.

Once you’ve browsed the shops filled with local art, Alaskana, and colorful characters, end at Talkeetna Riverfront Park, at the confluence of three wild rivers. On a clear day, the views of Denali are superb.

View All Talkeetna Points of Interest

3. Get on the River or Lakes

Summertime rafting, jet boat tours, kayaking, rail options, natural history, wildlife viewing

Talkeetna grew up at the confluence of three wild rivers, so it’s no surprise that on-the-water adventures are popular here. River travel was essential before cars and planes, and it’s still a fantastic way to get a perspective of Alaska’s wild spaces away from civilization.

Hop on a leisurely raft float or choose a jet boat adventure along area waterways, each with its own charms. You might travel up a braided river, through picturesque canyons, view glacial moraines, boulder fields and sparkling beaches. The backdrop is Denali and the Alaska Range, but cast your eyes lower as well for potential wildlife sightings of eagles, bear, fox, wolf, lynx, beavers, porcupines, and moose.

Talkeetna also has a system of lakes to explore. Rent a kayak or join a guided tour to paddle.

Choose your Jetboat, Raft, or Kayak Tour

4. Go Fishing

Half-day or full-day charters, resident species and salmon

Alaska is a mecca for sport fishing, and thousands of anglers visit each year to throw a line into cold, clear waters.

Talkeetna fishing is lesser known than other locales, which makes it a bit of an insider’s secret.

Between mid-May and October, you can head out with a local fishing charter for an experience akin to the old days, with fewer crowds and quiet riverbanks. This area is home to resident species (rainbows, Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden), and all five species of salmon return as well.

Depending on when you visit, you can try for a King, or enjoy the chase of reds, silvers, pinks or chums.

Choose Your Talkeetna Fishing Charter

5. Hike Trails in Town, or Nearby Denali State Park

Guided and self-guided hiking, Denali views, boreal forest

Hiking around Talkeetna is varied, with options in town, along lowland trails, across an historic railroad bridge or high up on Kesugi Ridge. Explore at your own pace, discovering lush old-growth forest, clear waters and gorgeous views. Just outside town, Talkeetna Lakes Park gets you into the woods and along beautiful lakes, with more frequent wildlife sightings.

Explore on your own, or go with Alaska Nature Guides, local naturalists who will help you find incredible vistas while describing the flora and fauna you’re seeing. Their offerings also include a phenomenal trail system an hour north at Denali State Park. It’s lesser known than Denali National Park, but boasts amazing views, easy access to the wilderness and no crowds. Take a leisurely walk around Byers Lake or enjoy the challenge of ridge climbing for a panoramic view of Denali and the Alaska Range.

Or, if you're looking for a quick way into the wilderness, combine a scenic flight with a hike on a heli-hike or fly-in hike adventure.

Choose Your Guided Hike or Browse Talkeetna Trails

6. Hurricane Turn Train

Alaska Railroad, history, meet locals, scenic views

Along a remote stretch of the Indian River Valley, residents depend on the Hurricane Turn Train for access to the outside world. These “off-gridders” hang out a flag when they want to be picked up – and the train conductor obliges. You can get a glimpse into this unique Alaskan lifestyle with round-trip fare on the Hurricane Turn, which has seven set stops between Talkeetna and Hurricane. Scenic views along the way include forested expanses, the nearly 300-foot tall bridge over Hurricane Creek, the braided Indian River, and (on a clear day) Denali rising above the Alaska Range. It’s all narrated by your friendly railroad crew, who will even stop for wildlife sightings that can include moose and bear. Ride the entire way, or get off and explore or plan a camping adventure anywhere on route. Just flag down the train again on its return! Operates Thursday-Monday, mid-May-mid-September, and once a month during winter.

View Alaska Railroad Routes

7. Local Food & Drink

Behind-the-scenes tours, local flavors

Alaskans have always lived off the land, using the resources around them for inspiration and sustenance. Learn how Talkeetna businesses thrive by creating food and drink from the forests, fields, and clear waters near Talkeetna. Visit Kahiltna Birchworks, where beverages, candy, syrup, and sauces are made from locally-harvested birch sap. Or try your preferred “sauce” – beer, cider, mead, or spirits – at Denali Brewing Company, the second largest brewery in Alaska.

View Talkeetna Shops & Restaurants

8. Zipline Tours

Forest canopy zipline course, Denali views

Fly through the Alaskan wilderness, where nine individual zips make up the 3-hour Denali Zipline Tours course. Local guides take small groups through the treetops of a dense boreal forest of spruce, cottonwood and birch. They provide encouragement and information along the way, for a fun, educational and exciting adventure. The course also features three suspension bridges, a spiral staircase, and a rappel. As you zip along, you’ll get views of the Alaska Range, Denali, and the Ruth Glacier, plus vistas of the Susitna and Chulitna River Valleys.

Choose Your Talkeetna Zipline Tour

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Day Tours & Attractions View All

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $99 per person 3 hrs

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: Year Round $255+ 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: May 11 - Sept 14 $150 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.

Season: May through October $225+ 4-5 hrs

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 $235+ per person 4 hrs - Multi-day

Join Dave Fish Alas­ka on a pri­vate fish­ing excur­sion in Tal­keet­na. Choose from a vari­ety of trans­porta­tion options and fish for Alaska’s icon­ic species with the help of our expe­ri­enced guides. No expe­ri­ence is nec­es­sary, all lev­els are welcome.

$1250 pp Day Trips / $2000+ pp All-Inclusive Stays 1+ days

Escape to the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains for a lux­u­ri­ous get­away at Stephan Lake Lodge, a remote 6‑bedroom full-ser­vice lodge locat­ed on a pri­vate lake. With access to 40,000 acres of pri­vate land, guests can expe­ri­ence breath­tak­ing Alaskan scenery while kayak­ing, fish­ing, hik­ing, or sim­ply relax­ing by the fireplace. 

Season: May 19 to Sep 16 $164 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.

Season: June 10 - Sept 10 $536+ 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

Season: May 20 - Sept 15 $99+ 2 hr - Multi-Day

Tal­keet­na Riv­er Guides has offered expert­ly guid­ed raft­ing day trips for over 20 years. Float through the remote wilder­ness of Denali State Park, just a stone’s throw away from Denali Nation­al Park’s wild south side. Choose the two-hour Tal­keet­na Riv­er Nat­ur­al His­to­ry Float Trip, the four-hour Chulti­na Riv­er Raft Tour, or an overnight or mul­ti-day excursion.

Season: June - Sept $400+ Overnight | $370+ Fly-in Day Hike

This fly-in lodge on a pri­vate lake in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains is a great place to unplug. It is also an ide­al des­ti­na­tion to escape the crowds as the lodge only accom­mo­dates small groups of 10 or less. Take guid­ed hikes to look for wildlife and enjoy nature, kayak, go fish­ing, pick wild berries, or just relax and enjoy the peace and bliss­ful views.

Season: December–April (weather dependent) $275+ 3.5-4.5 hrs

Ride snow­ma­chines on pri­vate trails through forests while keep­ing an eye out for wildlife on your way to vis­it sled dogs and mush­ers and learn what it’s real­ly like to run the Idi­tar­od while mush­ing your own team.

Sam­ple deli­cious syrup and sweets made from birch trees at Kahilt­na Birch­works in Tal­keet­na — the world’s largest pro­duc­er of birch syrup. Stop in to shop, or for a tour of the facil­i­ty at mile 1.1 of the Tal­keet­na Spur Rd, just off the Parks High­way. You’ll also find Alaskan food prod­ucts (many wild har­vest­ed), botan­i­cals, and func­tion­al art like pot­tery, tiles, birch bark and wood crafts. Prod­ucts are also avail­able online. 

Season: Year Round $99+ 2 hrs - Multi-Day

Get out there on one or more of these super-acces­si­ble trips, which range from easy nature walks to stren­u­ous alpine mul­ti-day treks. You’ll not only get a healthy dose of scenery, you’ll also exer­cise your body, mind, and soul. In win­ter, mar­vel at frozen water­falls, snow­shoe treks and even heli-snowshoeing!

Season: May 10 to Sep 21 $73 to $489

This train trav­els through the forest­ed areas north of Anchor­age into the bore­al for­est, and even­tu­al­ly into the tun­dra regions fur­ther north. On a clear day the train will slow down to allow you to see beau­ti­ful vis­tas of Denali. You may also spot wildlife along the way. Day Trip from Anchor­age: Tal­keet­na Day Trip from Fair­banks: Denali Mul­ti-Day Trip from Anchor­age: Tal­keet­na, Denali Nation­al Park, and / or Fair­banks Mul­ti-Day Trip  ...more

Season: May 23 - Sep 14 $75+ 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

Season: Memorial Weekend - Labor Day Weekend Call for Rental Rates 2+ hrs

This tour oper­a­tor offers guid­ed kayak­ing tours and kayak, canoe, and stand up pad­dle board rentals at X Lake in Tal­keet­na Lakes Park. Denali South­side will pro­vide you with every­thing you need to enjoy your tour or rental, includ­ing the high­est-qual­i­ty gear. While on the water, look for trum­peter swans, loons, riv­er otters, beavers and moose. On clear days, you’ll get stun­ning views of Mt. Denali and the Alas­ka Range.

Season: May 15 - Sep 20 $84+ 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.

Season: July 2 - 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: Year Round $117 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

Season: Year Round $270+

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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Hiking & Trails View All

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.

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. In win­ter, cross-coun­try ski, walk, or fat bike on the mul­ti-use trails. 

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Shopping View All

Sam­ple deli­cious syrup and sweets made from birch trees at Kahilt­na Birch­works in Tal­keet­na — the world’s largest pro­duc­er of birch syrup. Stop in to shop, or for a tour of the facil­i­ty at mile 1.1 of the Tal­keet­na Spur Rd, just off the Parks High­way. You’ll also find Alaskan food prod­ucts (many wild har­vest­ed), botan­i­cals, and func­tion­al art like pot­tery, tiles, birch bark and wood crafts. Prod­ucts are also avail­able online. 

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