15 Unmissable Things to do in Talkeetna, Alaska + Complete Visitor’s Guide

If you are planning that dream trip and wondering if you should add Talkeetna to your Alaska itinerary, then you have come to the right place! During my trip to Alaska, I was amazed at the variety of amazing things to do in Talkeetna! And I am here now to share all my top tips with you.

This quaint village in Alaska is located 114 miles North of Anchorage and has been around for a century, offering breathtaking views of the mountains. Located between Anchorage and Denali National Park, Talkeetna offers plenty of activities for summer and winter visitors, so make sure you add it to your Alaska bucket list!

Talkeetna (tall-KEEt-Nah) has a feel of adventure because of its location. Here is also considered the launch point for most climbing expeditions of Denali Mt., the highest peak in North America. This historic, one-road town feels like it’s from the old west with buildings dating back from its founding year of 1916 through 1940. These buildings are still used today as gift shops, general stores, restaurants, and art galleries. 

This is the most comprehensive guide you will find on the internet about how to visit Talkeetna. This guide is packed with very helpful information and all the tips you need to make your visit easy and safe. So let’s dive in!

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15 Things to do in Talkeetna

1. Flightseeing Denali Tour

Going on a flightseeing tour over the Alaskan range is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Talkeetna! There’s nothing quite like seeing these towering mountains from above as you’ll literally feel like you’re on top of the world.

Many of the tours in the area will fly you over the huge Kahiltna Glacier, and show you the striking peaks of Mt. Hunter and Mt. Foraker. However, the highlight of flightseeing from Talkeetna is that you’ll get fantastic views of Mount Denali itself!

However, this fantastic tour goes one step further and includes a glacier landing too – although an upgrade will be required for this.

HOW TO VISIT: There are plenty of flightseeing tours available that will take you to the Denali mountain range. Some of the top tour operators include the Arctic Circle Air Adventure and Talkeetna Air Taxi.

Things to do in Talkeetna

2. Visit Denali National Park

This is an unmissable thing to do for anyone visiting Talkeetna. Covering an impressive area of six million acres, Denali is one of the largest national parks in the United States. It’s also home to the tallest peak in North America – the iconic Mount McKinley (or Denali as it’s often referred to).

With towering mountains, endless tundra plains, and one road that runs straight through the middle, Denali is one of the best places in Alaska for wildlife watching. The park is home to the state’s big 5; bears, caribou, Dall’s sheep, moose, and wolves.

Although there are plenty of fantastic hiking trails in the park, the best way to spot wildlife is to head out on one of the bus tours!

HOW TO VISIT: If you’re unsure of what to do in Denali National Park then why not head out on a walking tour? On this 3-hour tour, you’ll explore the park with a naturalist guide who can help you spot flora and fauna. I have put together a very compressive guide on how to visit Denali National Park for the first time.

Things to do in Talkeetna

3. Explore the historical Talkeetna

The scenic village of Talkeetna is located just outside Denali National Park and is a must for any Alaska itinerary! If it’s a clear day you’ll get spectacular views of Mount Denali and although small – this place has plenty of attractions.

To start your visit, make sure you wander along the main street as you’ll get to see historic buildings such as the Fairview Inn and Talkeetna Roadhouse. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and ice cream parlors here if you’re feeling a bit peckish. Not only that but this charming village offers lots of small stores and galleries so there are several great places to grab a souvenir.

HOW TO VISIT: Although you’ll get great views from many parts of Talkeetna I recommend heading down to the river. This is where you’ll get the best views of the surrounding area and you might even get to spot some wildlife too!


4. Visit the Talkeetna Museum

If you’re looking for things to do in Talkeetna then you can’t miss out on the museum! Talkeetna Museum is one of the best places to visit if you’re looking to learn about the area’s history and some interesting facts about Alaska.

With exhibits detailing the village’s gold mining era, aviation history, and iconic railroad, there’s so much to see. During your time at Talkeetna Museum, you’ll also get to see native artifacts and admire the room-sized sculpture of Mount McKinley. There’s even a daily talk that’s given by rangers, so if you can time your visit with that – even better!

HOW TO VISIT: The Talkeetna Museum operates different opening hours depending on when you visit. If you’re heading to Alaska during the summer then the museum is open every day from 9 am – 5 pm. Throughout winter, the museum is only open on the weekends between 11 am – 4 pm.


5. Visit the Aurora Dora Photography Gallery

Although this may not be one of the most popular things to do in Talkeetna, you NEED to add this art gallery to your itinerary! The Aurora Dora Photography Gallery is run by Dora Redman who moved to Alaska in 2001. After seeing the Northern lights for the first time when she moved to the United States – Dora fell in love with them.

Ever since she’s been taking amazing photographs of this natural wonder, and they can be seen throughout the state. However, the best place to appreciate her work is this art gallery as you’ll often get to talk to her in person! She can remember the ins and out’s of every photograph she’s taken and there are a lot of them!

HOW TO VISIT: There are plenty of places where you can grab a souvenir of your Alaska trip, but nothing quite like this. The gallery offers tons of breathtaking photographs and prints, and I’d definitely recommend buying one to remember your trip!


6. Denali Brewing Company and Tasting Room

Visiting the Denali Brewing Company and Tasting Room is one of the top things to do in Talkeetna! Although it’s located out of the town center, it’s still one of the most popular spots for craft beers.

There’s a cozy taproom here where you enjoy views of the production floor whilst you relax with a beer in hand. There are over 20 beers on tap too, so no matter what type of craft ale you prefer – you’re guaranteed to find something to your liking. This place also serves delicious wood-fired pizzas and appetizers, so there are dining options too.

HOW TO VISIT: The Denali Brewing Company and Tasting Room is located around 12 miles from downtown Talkeetna. It can be found at mile 2 of Spur Rd and the opening hours will depend on what time of year your visit.


7. Ride the Hurricane Turn Train

No trip to Talkeetna is complete without taking a ride on the Hurricane Turn Train! Departing from the town, this trail will take you through the scenic Indian River Valley to Hurrican Gulch. Along the way, you’ll get stunning views of the state’s backcountry and Susitna River.

However, the best part about this train ride is its unique flag-stop service. This means you can get off the train anywhere along the route, as long as it’s at a milepost. This allows you to explore some of Alaska’s wilderness areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

HOW TO VISIT: The timetable for the Hurricane Turn Train changes depending on the season you visit. If you’re heading to Talkeetna during the summer then the train runs from Thursday to Monday. However, if you’re planning a trip during the winter then the train only operates on the first Thursday of each month. Chech the schedule here!

Bucket list Alaska

Other Fantastic Things to do Talkeetna AK

8. Dog sledding and kennel tour

Alaska is full of fantastic things to do, and more often than not the first thing that comes to mind is dog sledding! Getting pulled along by gorgeous huskies whilst you admire the breathtaking scenery, is one of the most magical experiences you’ll ever have.

It’s one of the best ways to explore Alaska’s backcountry wilderness and is a must for any Talkeetna itinerary! Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic tour operators nearby including

Just make sure you shop around to find the best deals and the experience most suited to you.

HOW TO VISIT: If you’re looking for a more up close & personal encounter with the dogs then why not check out this off-grid homestead tour? You’ll get to learn all about dog sledding, meet and cuddle each pup, and take plenty of photographs!


9. Try the zipline

If you’re an adrenaline junkie then I’d recommend trying out Denali Zipline Tours! They offer a 3-hour canopy adventure tour that includes nine separate ziplines, three suspension bridges, and a spiral staircase. Although this activity may not be the best option for those who are scared of heights, you’ll be thoroughly rewarded if you do it!

You’ll be soaring through boreal forests as you head down the zip lines, but that’s not all. On a clear day, you’ll get striking views of the Alaska Range and the iconic Mount Denali! What more do you need?

Before you start the ziplining tour, you’ll have a safety brief and an orientation from experienced guides.

HOW TO VISIT: You can book your zipline ticket through Viator. This is perfect if you’re looking to avoid crowds when purchasing your ticket. Afterward, you’ll get a booking confirmation sent straight to your email.


10. Go Ice fishing in Talkeetna

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Talkeetna then why not try your hand at ice fishing? It’s one of Alaska’s most popular sports but you’ll need to layer up as it’s a winter activity.

The best time to go ice fishing in Talkeetna is between November and March as this is generally when the ice is at its thickest. No matter which tour operator you choose, you’ll first be shown how to drill holes in the ice. After that, it’s a waiting game although many of the tours feature a cozy hut where you can warm up throughout the experience.

HOW TO VISIT: If you fancy this activity, then why not check out this ice fishing tour? After you’ve been picked up in Talkeetna you’ll head to a frozen lake where your guide will teach you how to ice fish. Luckily, this tour includes a cozy hut to relax in and hot cocoa!


11. Go Wilderness Hiking

Alaska is one of the best places in the world for wilderness hiking with its epic scenery and endless wildlife-watching opportunities. So, it’s no surprise that you’ll find plenty of fantastic hiking trails near Talkeetna. You’ve also got Denali State Park which is just an hour’s drive away!

If you’re wanting to stay near town then some of your best options include:

  • Chase Trail
  • McKinley Overlook & Ski Loop Trail
  • Talkeetna Town Loop

You can also head to Talkeetna Lakes Park for more hiking opportunities. If you fancy heading to Denali State Park then I’d recommend the Kesugi Ridge Trail and the Byers Lake Trail. As you can see there are tons of fantastic trails available! Just make sure you’ve got sturdy footwear and a warm jacket.

HOW TO VISIT: There are plenty of self-guided hiking opportunities surrounding this area. However, if you’d prefer to go on a guided hike then make sure you check out Denali National Park 5-hour hiking.


12. Head to Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station

This isn’t a place that’s often thought about when visiting Talkeetna but I’d recommend putting it on your Alaska itinerary. The Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station is located just 100 miles south of the Denali National Park entrance. For this reason, it’s the main checkpoint for hikers heading into the park and is where you’ll receive your climbing permits.

However, even if you’re not climbing up mountains – this place is still worth a visit. With historical exhibits, interpretive events, and an on-site bookstore there’s plenty to see.

The highlight of this place though has to be the 30-minute documentary that plays throughout the day. It details what it’s like to climb Mount Denali and is an interesting watch.

HOW TO VISIT: Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station is open between 8 am – 4:30 pm during the summer season. However, it generally closes during the winter or runs reduced hours so keep that in mind.


13. Explore the Talkeetna Riverfront

If you’re looking for things to do in town then make sure you explore the Talkeetna Riverfront. There’s a park here that offers stunning views of the Alaska Mountain Range making it a must-visit. On a clear day, you can see the towering peaks of Mount Denali, Foraker, and Hunter.

The park is located at the end of Main Street and overlooks a confluence of three raging rivers; Chulitna, Susitna, and Talkeetna. You can walk right down to the water’s edge and many people choose to have a campfire on the sandy beaches which I’d definitely recommend! Or you can simply do a loop trail of the riverfront that will take you along the Susitna River and back onto Main Street.

HOW TO VISIT: If you’re heading to Alaska during the winter then Talkeetna Riverfront Park is also used for skiing, snowshoeing, and other winter sports.


14. Go river rafting

There are plenty of fantastic ways to view the spectacular Alaskan scenery, but it doesn’t get much better than river rafting. You can marvel at towering peaks and look out for wildlife whilst cruising down one of Talkeetna’s beautiful rivers.

There are plenty of fantastic tour operators in the area who offer this activity including Denali View Raft Adventures, Talkeetna River Guides, and Willow Creek tours. Many of the tours available last between 2-4 hours, but you can opt for an overnight or multi-day rafting adventure!

Going river rafting is one of the top things to do in Talkeetna so don’t miss this off your itinerary! However, the tours differ in intensity and rapid class so you’ll want to shop around to find the option most suited to you.

HOW TO VISIT: River rafting is generally only available during the summer season so between mid-May and mid-September. This is for your safety, as you won’t want to be cruising down the winter rapids!

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15. Take a speedboat ride

Another great activity to do in Talkeetna is taking a speedboat ride. If you’d prefer a less leisurely way to explore the river, then this may be the option for you!

The BEST tour operator in the area for speedboat rides is Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures. They have decades of experience and run four tour options along the river. This includes the popular Wilderness Excursion and Devils Canyon Adventure. However, if you’re looking for a full-day experience then make sure you check out the Chulitna Gorge Journey.

What’s great about using Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures is that many of the tours include a short nature walk. You’ll also get to learn about the Dena’ina Indians and their local wildlife.

HOW TO VISIT: This is another activity that’s generally only available during the summer season. So, if you’re heading to Talkeetna during the shoulder or winter season – you won’t be able to participate in this one.


Best Places to Stay in Talkeetna

TOP OVERALL PICK: Willow Cabin 

Rated: 10 Exceptional

Willow Cabin is just WOW! rated as Exceptional with 10 stars by the guest, this vacation home is a dreamy place to stay in Talkeetna. It features 1 bedroom, a bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen and dining area. Perfect for anyone looking to engage in outdoor activities around Talkeetna.


Budget Option: Meandering Moose Lodging

Rated: 8.8 Excellent

The cabins are a great option if you are traveling on a budget. Located just a short drive from Talkeetna, the lodging offers several activities nearby. With cozy cabins and comfortable beds, it makes a great place to stay to discover Talkeetna and its surroundings.


Best Location: Talkeetna Roadhouse

Rated: 9.3 Wonderful

This B&B was built in 1917 and it is located in downtown Talkeetna, on Main Street. It is only walking distance t most of the places you will visit in the village. The restaurant and bakery at Talkeetna Roadhouse feature large breakfasts, hearty soups, and homemade bread. The restaurant bakery offers a variety of pastries, cookies, and pies.


How to Get to Talkeetna

The town of Talkeetna is located approximately 120 road miles north of Anchorage. Talkeetna is easily accessible by highway, railroad, and air, making it an ideal destination for a day or overnight trip, with plenty to see and do year-round.

Estimated Time
Car:2:00 – 2:30 Hours
Train:3:00 Hours
Flight:30 minutes
DRIVING TO TALKEETNA

This is the fastest, most flexible way to make this trip. On the drive from Denali to Talkeetna, make sure to stop at the North View Point and then, the South View Point on Parks Highway (AK 3) to see the highest peak, Mt. Denali – both locations are a must-stop and the views are breathtaking and very different landscape. Each of these viewpoints has telescopes to take a close-up look at the mountains on the horizon.

You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.

FLYING TO TALKEETNA

Charter flights can be arranged by contacting the various air taxis. The Talkeetna State Airport has transient parking available for those flying their own planes into Talkeetna. A Flight Service Station is manned year-round.

TRAIN TO TALKEETNA

The Alaska Railroad runs daily summer operations from Anchorage, Denali, and Fairbanks. Alaska Railroad also offers winter operations to Talkeetna. The Summer Hurricane Turn Train and the winter trains are the last flag-stop trains in the US!

Best Places to Eat & Drink in Talkeetna

  • Latitude 66: It is a great option for breakfast, and their biscuits and gravy are really good!
  • Denali Fairview Inn: A place the locals go, occasionally they have live music.
  • Denali Brewpub: It is a very popular spot in Talkeetna for dinner and drinks. You got to try their hamburger, it is to die for! I also recommend their Hot Totty
  • Mountain High Pizza Pie: Located just next door to the Denali Brewpub, they have incredible options for pizza, and the Alaskan craft beer goes perfectly with your pizza.

What to Pack for Talkeetna

You need to plan the right packing for your trip to Alaska. Make sure you are prepared, considering the season and the activities you are planning to do. I prepared a whole article on What to pack for Alaska in summer and winter, plus you can find an awesome Printable Packing List here too, but just some quick tips:

  • Portable water bottle: Remember to bring and drink a lot of water and if you need to refill, a LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle is the best option. You will find stations to refill your water along the hiking trails
  • Day-Backpack: I love my day backpack; it is very handy for hiking.
  • Excellent and warm boots: It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit Anchorage, make sure to wear comfortable and warm boots. I love my Sorel boots and I highly recommend investing in a pair.
  • Warm Layers: Early morning or late night can get cold so it is important to bring layers, a lightweight puffy jacket is a must, and I love these warm leggings too!
  • Packing for winter: During winter make sure to have a good quality hiking jacket and pack a warm pair of pants for your hike.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses: It is always important to protect yourself against the sun. Bring a hat with a good face cover like this one and don’t forget to pack a pair of polarized sunglasses
  • Bring your Camera: You will see some incredible views during your hiking, so don’t forget your camera, or check out some great value options here

Read More: What to Pack for Alaska + FREE Printable List

Things to do in Talkeetna Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed these amazing things to do in Talkeetna! And while you are visiting Talkeetna, don’t forget to stop at the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Valley with a backdrop of massive Denali, the quirky town of Talkeetna is filled with whimsy and charm.

I hope you add this underrated village to your Alaska Itinerary. I enjoyed my time here, and the location is just perfect if you are visiting Denali, or exploring the surroundings.

If you have any additional questions or suggestions, just leave a comment below. I always respond and I love to find out about your travel experiences too.

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Talkeetna Things to do

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