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or "Where the Road Ends, and Life Begins"
Talkeetna is a funky little town located about 100 road miles north of Anchorage. It was founded in the early 1900's as a re-supply point for Gold miners and trappers along the Susitna River. Prior to the road and railroad, Talkeetna was only accessable via river barge, by dog sled (during winter), or by small airplane. In 1921, the U.S. Government constructed the Alaska Railroad and in the 1970's a road was built connecting Talkeetna with Anchorage and Fairbanks. Today, it is an easy day trip from Anchorage. Talkeetna has no formal governmental structure (just a Community Council that advises the Borough in Palmer), no Mayor, no City Council, no Police, no bank, two ATM's, a volunteer Fire Department, two parks, one Family Doctor, lots of churches and drinking establishments, and no Taxes. It is still a frontier community in which the 400 or so residents find a way to cooperate and get things accomplished.
Talkeetna has one of the best views (on a clear day) of Denali (Mt. McKinley). Visitors should know that as you drive closer to Denali National Park the view of McKinley slowly disappears. Many travelers choose Talkeetna as their "base camp" from where they start day excursions north to Denali State Park and Denali National Park, and south to Hatcher Pass, Matanuska Glacierand other attractions. It's worth spending a few nights in Talkeetna.
Talkeetna still retains its charm as a 'frontier' community, with many of the historic structures still being used as they were over 80 years ago. Nagleys Store still functions as a 'country store', (Horace Nagley's family still visit the community on occasion, just to keep an 'eye' on their Great Grandfathers Store!) Big time hint for ice cream lovers: Nagleys offers big two scoop cones in waffle cone for $3.75. Sitting in front of the store on their bench, half the passers-by will ask you where you got that cone. The Talkeetna Roadhouse still offers visitors a meal and bed, much like it did in the 1920's. The Fairview Inn still offers the client a stiff cocktail, some good cheer and a room upstairs as it did in 1921. The Little Red School House , operates as a Museum and coordinates, thru the Talkeetna Historical Society, the restoration of many old historic structures in town. Admission fee to the museum is just $3 and you will be provided with a Historic Walking Tour brochure which guides you through the historic district. Many of the old Trapper cabins and other buildings are still used in one fashion or another. The small 'Village Strip' (gravel runway) which is located downtown, still caters to the Alaska bush pilot. You can sit on the deck of the West Rib Pub and watch small bush planes swoop in low for a landing.
Talkeetna is the 'jumping off' point for the 1,000 or so mountain climbers who attempt the Summit of Mt. McKinley (Denali) yearly. Arriving in late April, these intrepid folks spend up to 3 weeks climbing Mt. McKinley, Mt. Hunter or Mt. Foraker. They fly from Talkeetna to the McKinley 'Base Camp', beginning their journey up Denali. Today, the air taxies that operate in Talkeetna also take many visitors to McKinley for a chance to step out on the glacier and view the magnificant Alaska Range.
Three rivers meet at Talkeetna... the Susitna, Chulitna and Talkeetna. They offer excellent salmon and trout fishing throughout the summer. All species of Pacific Salmon arrive in the rivers from June thru September. Trophy Rainbow Trout and Arctic Grayling can also be found. Just Fly Fish specializes in wade-style fly fishing excursions for these fresh water species — away from the crowds. The visitor can take several sightseeing excursions on the rivers as well, with Mahays Riverboat Service on a jetboat, or quieter (and with more wildlife viewing opportunities) on a float trip with Talkeetna River Guides or Southside River Guides.
There are several good restaurants for the visitor...the Twister Creek, West Rib Pub and Grill, Talkeetna Roadhouse, Mountain High High Pizza Pie, Wild Flower Cafe and Latitude 62. There are several smaller quick service food outlets, like the Spinach Bread airstream trailer in front of the new Dancing Leaf Art Gallery on Main Street. Talkeetna is a good spot to stop for lunch.
Lodging in Talkeetna is varied and fairly plentiful, although reservations are suggested during the busy summer season. The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge with 200+/- rooms is just one lodging option. The hotel offers 4-star service/facilities and has an excellent view of McKinley on a clear day. Many other smaller lodging establishments, guest cabins and B&B's offer similar views of the mountain — and affordability plus "frontier charm and hospitality". Check out the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce website for more info about Talkeetna's lodgings, guides, events and news. Fill out their Online Trip Planner and receive brochures and helpful travel advice.