Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

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Talkeetna, Alaska

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A quirky town picturesque, eccentric and big on character

Talkeetna's community of about 850 is picturesque, eccentric and lovable. On clear days Mount McKinley overwhelms the horizon. Moose wander through the streets and salmon jaunt up the Talkeetna River. But as a tourist destination, Talkeetna opens and closes to the rhythms of the Alaska Railroad, which brings thousands of visitors each summer.

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Tours and activities

"When the first train comes, we open up. When the last train runs, we close," said Michael Kelly, Talkeetna Museum curator.

You don't just stumble upon Talkeetna. Travelers on their way from Anchorage to Denali National Park or Fairbanks have to decide to head into Talkeetna. It's a 14-mile trip up the Talkeetna Spur Road from the Parks Highway, but it's worth the detour.

While it's not big on size, it is big on character. And it's got just about everything someone could want in an Alaska vacation: flightseeing trips to Mount McKinley, fishing, river rafting, jet boat trips, hiking, history, Iditarod mushers and artists.

Several new businesses opened in 2009. The Salmon Berry boutique, owned by Mandy Harley, provides handmade pottery. Moose Juice and Nuggets sells cold drinks and roasted nuts of all varieties. The Flying Squirrel Bakery-Café, located just outside town, offers discounts to those who arrive by foot, pedal, dog sled and any other means not requiring gasoline.

One of the most popular additions is the new Twister Creek Restaurant and Denali Brewing Company. Owners and brewers Boe Bennett and Sasson Mossanen create unique, original beer incorporating flavors such as local blueberries. The restaurant is on Main Street, with an open deck.

"We hope to have the staple beers and to experiment. We hope to always have something new for people," Bennett said.

 

Denali Arts Council

The council presents many dramas, art shows, live concerts, photography displays and, in the summer, a daily documentary about famous bush pilot Don Sheldon.

WHERE: Sheldon Community Arts Hangar, D Street, downtown Talkeetna

WHEN: Programs vary; Sheldon documentary 2 p.m. daily in summer

COST: $8 adults, $6 seniors, free for under 12

PHONE: 907-733-7929

Web: www.denaliartscouncil.org

 

Huskytown

A ride with a dog team gives a taste of the mushing lifestyle. Huskytown tours include interactive gear displays, meeting the dogs and a dog tour on a wheeled cart. Learn what it takes to get mushers and dogs ready for the race season.

WHERE: Mile 7.8 Talkeetna Spur Road

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer, by appointment only in winter

COST: $35 per person in summer, $50 per person in winter

PHONE: 907-733-4759

WEB: www.huskytown.com

 

River Tours

A great way to get outdoors and see the stunning natural surroundings is to raft the Talkeetna or Susitna rivers. Many companies in Talkeetna offer packages for scenic tours and Class III whitewater rafting. On The Fly Outfitters and Mahay's Riverboat Service offer tours of the Talkeetna River canyon.

WHERE: Talkeetna

WHEN: Summer

COST: $65-$110 per person; tours vary

WEB: www.talkeetnaonthefly.com, www.mahaysjetboat.com

 

Talkeetna Heritage Museum

Explore the wonders of Talkeetna's remarkable history. From the early settlers and Native tribes to the first groups to summit Mount McKinley, the five-building museum has artifacts, memorabilia and even the largest topographical map of Denali built entirely to scale. Daily talks by a park ranger and staff.

WHERE: Talkeena Spur

WHEN: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily in the summer; by appointment in the winter

COST: $3 per person; children under 16 are free

PHONE: 907-733-2487

WEB: www.talkeetnahistoricalsociety.org

Wilderness Woman Contest

This fun-filled festival challenges single women to compete for utter Alaska womanhood. They haul water buckets in a race for strength and efficiency, make a sandwich for a local bachelor, drive a snowmachine, catch a fish, climb a tree and lug a load of firewood. The woman who performs the fastest and most accurately wins. The contest benefits women and children in crisis.

WHERE: Downtown Talkeetna

WHEN: December

COST: Free

Fourth of July

Each year Talkeetna celebrates the national holiday with parades, fireworks and general jovial spirits. If you are in town on the Fourth, join the locals in the celebration of our nation's independence.

WHERE: Downtown

WHEN: Fourth of July

COST: Free

Open Air Market

Alaska artisans showcase their work at this market. Stroll through and find locally made jewelry, art, carvings, ceramics and much more.

WHERE: Sheldon Community Arts Hangar

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Monday, May 29 through mid-September.

COST: Free

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