Mat-Su Valley Jeep & ATV Tours

Jeep / ATV Tours

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.

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.

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

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

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. 

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: 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.

Difficulty: Easy

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. 

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

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: 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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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. 

Cen­tered on a park-like island with wind­ing trails through the brush, Red Shirt Lake Cab­in 1 is a big cab­in that’s an easy pad­dle from the launch point at end of the three-mile Red Shirt Lake Trail. From its sprawl­ing front porch, you can glimpse water on two sides, but no major vis­tas. Sit­u­at­ed in the mouth of the lake’s pro­tect­ed north­west­ern lobe, the cab­in is a great launch point for explo­ration by canoe when the main lake becomes windy and  ...more

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

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

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.

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

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.

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: 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. 

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

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. 

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

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: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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. 

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.

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

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: 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. 

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.

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

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

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.

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. 

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

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: 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.

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

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. 

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!

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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

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.

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

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. 

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

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

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.

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

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! 

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: 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.

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

If you want a con­ve­nient no-frills out­post close to your boat or air­plane — and just off the win­ter trail — Nan­cy Lake Cab­in 3 will fit the bill. What this well-used, old-style pub­lic use cab­in lacks in ameni­ties or archi­tec­tur­al won­der may be com­pen­sat­ed by its sim­plic­i­ty and ease of heat­ing on frigid win­ter nights. Cozy is the word — a warm, dry refuge after a long day outside.

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: 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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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!

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.

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

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. 

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

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. 

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.

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 

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

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

Just 45 min­utes out­side Anchor­age, the city gives way to the wilds of Alas­ka in the Knik Riv­er Val­ley. And one of the most excit­ing ways to explore the rugged tun­dra here is behind the wheel of your own Polaris ATV, or 2 or 4‑seat UTV (per­fect for fam­i­lies)! Splash through rivers, gaze in awe at the glac­i­er, and look for wildlife on this unfor­get­table tour.

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