Best Things To Do In Talkeetna

A small plane flies next to snow covered Mt. Denali.

Talkeetna Air Taxi soars next to the majestic Mt. Denali.

1. Flightsee Denali (Mt. McKinley)

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. View tour options.

The outside of Talkeetna Roadhouse on Main Street.

Stop in at the iconic Talkeetna Roadhouse for their delicious sourdough pancakes.

2. Stroll Main Street

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

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.

3. Get on the River

Summertime rafting or jet boat tours, 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. Some tours mix in a ride on the Hurricane Turn train, a stop at an historic resort town, or even some whitewater excitement.

A jetboat on the water with Mt. Denali in the background.

Mahays Jet Boat Adventures pauses on the water to let guests soak in a stunning view of Mt. Denali.

A man in waders standing in the water in front of a boat holding a large fish.

Phantom Charters will lead you to the best fishing spots in the Talkeetna area.

4. 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. Phantom Charters operates out of a 21- to 26-foot covered jet boat, plying along the Big Susitna, Talkeetna, and Chulitna rivers. Hell Bent Fishing Charters offers a laid-back float along Willow Creek. Both charters can get you into prime fishing holes and productive shorelines for an authentic Alaskan fishing experience.

5. Hike

A hike takes a picture of a Alaskan river with mountains in the background.

Alaska Nature Guides will guide you through the Alaskan backcountry.

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

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. If your schedule is packed, you can do a simple loop around town starting at Talkeetna Riverfront Park, or check out other short walks nearby. 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.

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.

An Alaska Railroad train passes by a river in a forest setting.

Hop on to the Hurricane Train and enjoy the scenic views.

A collection of syrup, candy, and confections from Kahiltna Birchworks.

Enjoy a taste of Alaska with locally made treats from Kahiltna Birchworks.

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. Get a glimpse of local farm life with Alaska Farm Tours, where you’ll learn exactly how veggies here can grow so huge, and so sweet. Alaska Farm Tours also includes a stop at Kahiltna Birchworks and Denali Brewing Company, for a busy and tasty 4-5 hour excursion.

8. Zipline

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.

A woman rushes through the air over a lake on a zipline in an Alaska autumn forest setting.

Embrace the adrenaline rush of flying through the air with Denali Zipline tours.

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Day Tours & Attractions View All

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.

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 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

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.

Season: May 29 to Sep 12 $66 to $395

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: Mid-May to Mid-September $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

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.

Season: Jan - March & June 1 - Oct 7 $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 $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.

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.

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: May through October $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: 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

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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Hiking & Trails View All

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

You’ll find even more play­grounds that take advan­tage of the unique assets of their loca­tions. Here’s a list of our top picks!

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.

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