18 Best Things to Do in Talkeetna, Alaska
Talkeetna, Alaska is located along the confluence of the Chulitna, Sustina, and Talkeetna Rivers and is best known as the former headquarters for the Alaska Railroad, which merited the city a famous visit by President Warren G. Harding in 1923. Today, the city is a popular launch point for visitors looking to explore Denali National Park and climb its highest peak, the 20,310-foot Denali mountain, the tallest mountain in North America. The city’s downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to a number of turn-of-the-century businesses. If you’re in town for national park exploration, backcountry adventures, or events such as the Oosik Classic Ski Race, the Moose Dropping Festival, and the city’s annual Winterfest, these attractions are sure to elevate your stay. Photo: kenkistler1/Fotolia
»Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station
Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station serves as Denali National Park’s southern district’s main checkpoint, a must-stop for all hikers to receive permits and mountain orientations. The station was constructed in 1997 and was named for Alaskan Native Walter Harper, the first person to climb to the summit of the 20,310-foot Denali Mountain, the highest peak in North America. All of the park’s rangers are on site throughout the spring and summer months to assist with climbing emergencies and rescue operations, but the station also serves as a major tourist attraction for non-climbers, offering historical exhibits on mountain climbing gear and showings of a 30-minute documentary film on those who have scaled the mountain. During the summer months, family-friendly interpretive events are also offered.
Contact: 22241 B Street, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-2231
»Alaskan War Veterans Memorial
Alaskan War Veterans Memorial is located inside the 325,240-acre Denali State Park and was constructed in 1983 to honor the state’s Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast and Alaska National Guard, and Merchant Marine veterans, including a number of state residents who were awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor. The site for the memorial was selected due to its even proximity between Fairbanks and Anchorage and showcases five 20-foot concrete panels arranged in a semi-circle, representing each branch of the United States military. A statue by Canadian artist George Pratt depicts Alaska Territorial Guards, and smaller memorials nearby honor the passengers of downed military planes within the state.
Contact: Route 3, Talkeetna, AK 99654
»Talkeetna Historical Society Museum
Talkeetna Historical Society Museum is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the town of Talkeenta, which was listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. The museum is the public project of the Talkeetna Historical Society and is located within the historic Territory of Alaska Talkeetna school building, which was originally opened for used in 1936. Museum exhibits emphasize the region’s indigenous and European history, including stories of famed aviators, explorers, trappers, and gold rush seekers throughout the region. Walking tour brochures also guide visitors to the Society’s other historic buildings, including relocated railroad buildings. Guided tours are offered for small groups and organizations, and several annual special events serve as Society fundraisers, including a Fourth of July Moose on Parade event.
Contact: PO Box 76, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-2487
Photo: Talkeetna Historical Society Museum
Byers Lake is a family-friendly campground located along Byers Lake, near the bottom of Kesugi Ridge, offering stunning views of the 20,310-foot Denali Mountain, also known as Mount McKinley. The lake is a prime spot for rainbow trout and burbot fishing by canoe and kayak, though visitors should note that the lake is closed to gasoline-powered boats to preserve its natural ecosystem. Canoe and kayak rentals are available from nearby Denali Southside River Guides, and firewood sales are offered seasonally. 73 campsites are available, offering tent and RV hookups, and three public use cabins may be rented for more private overnight accommodations. Modern toilets, dump sites, and picnic sites are provided for overnight visitors.
Contact: 147 Parks Highway, Talkeetna, AK 99676
»Kahiltna Gold Birch Syrup
Kahiltna Gold Birch Syrup is the flagship product of Kahiltna Birchworks, which was the vision of Michael East and Dulce Ben-East. The couple began harvesting and bottling birch tree sap in 1990 for their business, which has steadily grown to tap more than 11,000 trees annually and become the world’s largest commercial birch syrup company. Since 2010, the company has operated its Taste and Tour production seasonal facility out of Talkeetna, which showcases Kahiltna Birchworks and Alaska Wild Harvest, LLC products. In addition to syrups and flavored birch waters, Alaska Supreme Ice Cream is served at the facility, along with a variety of snacks, baked goods, and locally-roasted coffee. A picnic area is provided for enjoying delicacies, surrounded by the facility’s vegetable and flower gardens. A video documentary also explores the tapping and production process.
Contact: 38139 Talkeetna Spur Rd, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-1409
Photo: Kahiltna Gold Birch Syrup
»Nagley's General Store
Nagley's General Store was founded by Horace Negley, who opened his first store in the Talkeetna region at the turn of the 20th century. In its current incarnation, the store has been in operation since in 1921 and is the longest continuously-operating general store within the Northern Sustina Valley. The general store is preserved as part of the Fairview Gold Mining District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, serving as a local institution for more than a century. In the 1990s, part of the store was burned to the ground, but it was completely rebuilt by local volunteers. Today, it still serves as an essential morning stop for products such as Kaladi Brothers coffees, hand-scooped ice cream, and a variety of sandwiches, snacks, and sodas.
Contact: 13650 E Main St, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-3663
Photo: Nagley's General Store
»Denali Brewing Company & Tasting Room
Denali Brewing Company and Tasting Room was opened to the public in 2009 as a microbrewery and has since expanded to two locations, including a brewery and tap room and a brewpub. The brewery emphasizes sustainable brewing practices, high-quality ingredients, and community involvement as a central gathering place, one of the few year-round restaurants and pubs in the Talkeetna region. A variety of creative, flavorful dishes are offered at the brewpub, while more than 20 taps are stocked regularly at the tap room. The brewery’s flagship line produces a variety of year-round and seasonal beers, including its Chuli Stout, Twister Creek IPA, Single Engine Red, and Mother Blonde Ale. High-quality spirits are produced under the brewery’s Denali Spirits line, and unique ciders and meads are released by its Alaska Ciderworks and Alaska Meadery lines.
Contact: 37083 Talkeetna Spur Rd, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-2536
Photo: Denali Brewing Company & Tasting Room
»The Dancing Leaf Gallery
The Dancing Leaf Gallery is one of Talkeetna’s top art galleries, serving as a venue to promote the works of local Alaskan Native and non-Native artists. The all-local gallery showcases the works of more than 150 local artisans in rotating exhibits, with most artists living within walking distance of the gallery. The gallery’s emphasis is on contemporary works by local cottage industry artisans, presenting pieces crafted in a variety of mediums, including jewelry, textiles, basketweaving, ironworks, photography, glass, and oil paintings. Regular studios on display at the gallery include Stray Cat Designs, Northern Adornments, the Woodsprite Shop, and Mountaintop Woodshop. Other artists highlighted include Shannon Cartwright, Peg and Kevin Foster, Karen Mannix, Steve Durr, Ryan Pierce, and Joanne Noyles.
Contact: 13618 E Main St, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-5323
Photo: The Dancing Leaf Gallery
»Talkeetna Riverfront Park
Talkeetna Riverfront Park is located just past the western edge of the city’s Main Street at the confluence of the beautiful Chulitna, Susitna, and Talkeetna Rivers, which join to form the Big Sustian River. On clear days, the park provides unparalleled city views of the Alaska Range and its Denali, Hunter, and Foraker peaks, showcased in spectacular red alpenglow during the morning hours. The large park features wide undeveloped spaces and is perfect for romantic strolls, campfires, and watching rafters and jet boats on the rivers’ waters. Visitors should note that the park’s main trail is unpaved and that winter activities such as snowshoeing, dog mushing, and snowmachining are prevalent during the winter months.
Contact: 2nd St, Talkeetna, AK 99676
Photo: Tomasz Wozniak/Fotolia
»Talkeetna Lakes Park
Talkeetna Lakes Park is located a mile and a half south of downtown Talkeetna and spans 1,040 acres around six pristine lakes. The park is one of 10 borough-owned parks and has been in the process of development since the early 21st century, with 90 acres of adjoining state-owned land in the process of being developed into a park addition. Its lush forests and expansive lakefronts offer a taste of the true Alaskan wilderness close to the city, featuring wildlife such as moose, bears, foxes, beavers, and 100 species of native and migratory birds. A 3.5-mile walking trail is provided, along with sites for fishing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and boating. During the autumn months, the park also serves as a popular regional blueberry picking site.
Contact: Talkeetna, AK 99676
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»Talkeetna Air Taxi
Talkeetna Air Taxi offers safe, exciting flightseeing experiences throughout six million acres of the Denali National Park region, showcasing the area’s mile-high gorges, majestic glaciers, and stunning snow-covered mountain peaks. The company has been ranked as Alaska’s number one natural excursion tour company and performs more glacier landings than any other similar company anywhere in the world. All tours are led by skilled pilots with years of experience and are customized to daily weather conditions to ensure the best possible views on all excursions. Year-round flightseeing excursions focus on Denali and its surrounding geography, with four tour options available. Glacier landings may also be added to any flight, and helicopter services are available upon request, including helicopter transport rides.
Contact: 14212 E Second Street, Talkeetna AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-2218
Photo: Talkeetna Air Taxi
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»Denali Zipline Tours
Denali Zipline Tours were opened by Laura Caillet and Mark Wildermuth, who have experience as Iditarod sled racers, wilderness guides, and tourism management. The attraction serves as a recreational facility both for tourists and the local Talkeetna community, offering three-hour canopy tours along nine heart-racing ziplines. All tour participants check in at the attraction’s offices in downtown Talkeetna and are shuttled along a three-mile route to the wilderness of the Sustina River Valley, receiving course orientation training before embarking on tours. Tours traverse throughout the region’s boreal forest and span obstacles such as suspension bridges, rappels, and spiral staircases, providing breathtaking views of Denali and the surrounding woodland region. Tour guides provide information along the way on the Alaska range and the area’s history of flying, mountaineering, and gold mining.
Contact: 13572 East Main Street, Talkeetna, Alaska 99676, Phone: 907-733-3988
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»Talkeetna Spinach Bread
Talkeetna Spinach Bread is a popular regional food truck that serves out of an Airstream trailer both in the community and at special events such as the Tanana Valley Fair. The truck is known for its signature whole-grain spinach bread, which is stuffed with spinach, garlic, cheese, and hot sauce. The bread is broiled until all the cheese melts to create a crisp, warm, chewy delicacy unique to the Talkeetna region. Other food served at the truck includes blueberry rhubarb crisp, Ethiopian-spiced black beans and rice, Brazilian limeade, and hot chai tea. A picnic bench is offered beside the truck for customers to sit and enjoy their delicacies when the truck is parked throughout the community.
Contact: Main St, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-671-3287
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Talkeetna Roadhouse was constructed circa 1917 and is one of downtown Talkeetna’s oldest continuously-operating establishments. Throughout the 20th century, the roadhouse served as a rest stop for miners, fur trappers, loggers, and workers on the Alaska Railroad. Today, the roadhouse offers a wide variety of guest accommodations, including a main hotel building offering three upstairs and two downstairs rooms with shared bathrooms and access to a common room with a piano and rock fireplace. Other accommodations provided by the roadhouse include the historic Trapper John’s Cabin, the Little Cabin in the Back, and the Museum Apartment, located above the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum. Daily roadhouse-style breakfast is served at the hotel’s cafe and bakery, which features a variety of home-cooked traditional dishes and pastries. Complimentary coffee and tea are provided each morning, and a selection of home-baked pies and cakes are available throughout the day for purchase.
Contact: 13550 E Main St, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-1351
Photo: Talkeetna Roadhouse
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»Mountain High Pizza Pie
Mountain High Pizza Pie showcases the delicious Italian recipes of the Basilone family, located on Main Street in downtown Talkeetna. The casual restaurant serves signature hand-tossed pizza pies year-round, stocked with unique toppings such as homemade reindeer sausage gyro, Kalamata olives, and tzatziki. All pizzas may be made gluten-free or New York style upon request. Other menu options highlight Mediterranean fare options such as hummus, dolmas, calzones, and Italian-style flatbread sandwiches. Live music and public special events are hosted at the restaurant periodically, and sporting events are broadcast at the restaurant’s bar, which serves locally-brewed beers and fine wines.
Contact: 22165 C St, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-733-1234
Photo: Mountain High Pizza Pie
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»Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe
Flying Squirrel Bakery Café is located along the Talkeetna Spur three miles from the city’s downtown and offers year-round dining and community events, operated by owner and pastry chef Anita Golton. The restaurant offers dishes prepared with Alaska-grown ingredients such as berries, barley, rhubarb, birch syrup, and zucchini. Brick oven artisan breads and a classic espresso bar are offered during the morning hours, with most daily-baked breads selling out by early afternoon. The restaurant’s all-day menu highlights items such as homemade soups, grilled sandwiches, and vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. On weekends, wood-fired pizzas are served, complemented by local Alaskan beers on draft. All menu options are available for takeout, and an outdoor seating area provides access to Talkeetna Lakes Park. Public special events held at the restaurant include Jazz at the Squirrel evenings and monthly art shows.
Contact: Mile 11 Talkeetna Spur, P.O. Box 685, Talkeetna, Alaska 99676, Phone: 907-733-6887
Photo: Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe
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Aurora Dora is the studio of artist Dora Redman, who relocated to Talkeetna from Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2001. Her photography, which highlights the region’s famed aurora borealis, has been used by NASA and has been featured in publications such as The Washington Post, Space.com, and Mike Shaw’s Complete Guide to Landscape Astrophotography. Rotating exhibitions of Redman’s work can be viewed at the gallery, along with works that are displayed throughout the city at various collective exhibitions. Private northern lights photography workshops are also offered by Redman on a regular basis, limited to a size of 10 participants and designed to orient beginners to the best ways to capture the spectacular light displays.
Contact: 22229 Talkeetna Spur Rd, Talkeetna, AK 99676, Phone: 907-841-5620
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»West Rib Pub and Grill
West Rib Pub and Grill is located in downtown Talkeetna and is named after a famed route to the summit of nearby Denali mountain. The restaurant is a popular spot for visitors enjoying Denali National Park or attempting mountain climbs, offering a wide variety of unique American fare, including natural beef and caribou burgers and cheeseburgers, seafood entrees, caribou chili, and bar-style appetizers. Desserts and a children’s menu are also offered, along with a large selection of local Alaskan microbrews, including the restaurant’s custom-brewed Glacier Brewhouse Ice Axe Ale. During the summer months, outdoor patio seating is offered at the restaurant.
Contact: PO Box 413, Talkeetna, Alaska 99676, Phone: 907-733-3354
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18 Best Things to Do in Talkeetna, Alaska
- Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, Photo: Courtesy of krungchingpixs - Fotolia.com
- Alaskan War Veterans Memorial, Photo: Courtesy of CarloEmanuele - Fotolia.com
- Talkeetna Historical Society Museum, Photo: Talkeetna Historical Society Museum
- Byers Lake, Photo: Courtesy of cec72 - Fotolia.com
- Kahiltna Gold Birch Syrup, Photo: Kahiltna Gold Birch Syrup
- Nagley's General Store, Photo: Nagley's General Store
- Denali Brewing Company & Tasting Room, Photo: Denali Brewing Company & Tasting Room
- The Dancing Leaf Gallery, Photo: The Dancing Leaf Gallery
- Talkeetna Riverfront Park, Photo: Courtesy of Tomasz Wozniak - Fotolia.com
- Talkeetna Lakes Park, Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
- Talkeetna Air Taxi, Photo: Talkeetna Air Taxi
- Denali Zipline Tours, Photo: Courtesy of dieter76 - Fotolia.com
- Talkeetna Spinach Bread, Photo: Courtesy of nadin333 - Fotolia.com
- Talkeetna Roadhouse, Photo: Talkeetna Roadhouse
- Mountain High Pizza Pie, Photo: Mountain High Pizza Pie
- Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe, Photo: Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe
- Aurora Dora, Photo: Courtesy of livcool - Fotolia.com
- West Rib Pub and Grill, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of kenkistler1 - Fotolia.com
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