Independent travelers will find much to enjoy in Talkeetna. The town has a laid-back pace, a distinctly adventurous element, and a uniquely Northern sense of humor: Talkeetna elected a cat for mayor in 1997 (Mayor Stubbs).
Located 100 miles north of Anchorage and 138 miles south of Denali National Park, Talkeetna (Tal-KEET-nah) is a convenient day trip or weekend jaunt from Anchorage and a good stop with enough attractions to make it a great addition to longer itineraries. Accommodations range from well appointed lodges to riverside cabins. For RVers, the Talkeetna Camper Park is conveniently located at the edge of downtown, within walking distance to most attractions. Here are a few favorite activities in Talkeetna.

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Start your day with sourdough pancakes at the Talkeetna Roadhouse (established in 1918), then join Mahay’s Jet Boat for a 5-hour trip of Devil’s Canyon Tour. There is much natural beauty and wildlife to enjoy on this cruise tour, but the Class V rapids in Devil’s Canyon will top your most-memorable list as the custom designed jet boat climbs rapids then hovers next to the boiling Class V rapid for a photo-op. On the return portion, stop for a guided tour of a replicated Alaska Native village and authentic trapper’s cabin. (Lunch is provided and served aboard the boat.) For the less adventurous, Mahay’s also offers shorter, less pulse-pounding sightseeing tours.

Back in Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna, spend your afternoon wandering the open-air market and browsing the towns many interested gift shops. Stop at Wake & Shake for homemade ice cream or pick up a snack at the old-time Nagley’s general store. Afternoon tour options might include a visit to the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, a must-stop for mountain climbers, or a stroll through the town’s back alleys and Talkeetna’s spooky past with Sarah Birdsall, author of Ghosts of Talkeetna (phone 907-891-9063 or email for details).

End your first day with dinner at the West Rib Restaurant, named for a difficult route that mountaineers take to climb Denali. Frequented by locals and visitors alike, this eatery provides fresh-caught seafood sandwiches and fish and chips, massive burgers and crab legs and a nice array of Alaska brewed beer.

flightseeingDay two, head to the Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe (on the Talkeetna Spur Road) for organic espressos, bagels and breakfast sandwiches. Menu items include vegan and gluten-free choices. Back downtown, wander through the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum and explore artifacts and exhibits from Talkeetna’s early days as a departure point for climbing Denali (formerly Mount McKinley). Check the museum’s schedule for mountaineering talks. Then see the mountain for yourself on a custom flightseeing trip! Talkeetna is home to several flightseeing companies offering tours of the highest peak in North America (20,310 feet). Providers like K2 Aviation, Sheldon Air and Talkeetna Air Taxi offer glacier landings so that you can walk around on the mountain.
hurricane turn transportctStart your last day with a leisurely breakfast of Swiss-style French toast at the Swiss Alaska Inn, then return to downtown for the 12:45 p.m. departure of the Alaska Railroad Hurricane Turn train (available Thursday through Monday, mid-May to mid-Sept.; call ahead for reservations and pack a lunch for this 6.5 to 7-hour trip). This rail route adventure is the last flag-stop train in the nation. Enjoy beautiful scenery and wildlife views from the dome car seating. Your conductor provides a historical and naturalist tour along the way. The train stops for wildlife sightings and lets passengers detrain for photographs. (Short on time? Take the combination Mahay’s/Alaska Railroad trip—ask either business for details.) End your day at Main Street’s Mountain High Pizza Pie. With outdoor seating and Denali Brewery beer on tap, enjoy a legendary pie while people-watching.

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