Neighborhood Travels

A Wintery Visit to Talkeetna

With a population of about 1,000, the town of Talkeetna felt miles away from the city of Anchorage.  Actually, it’s only a little over a hundred miles.  Yet here we were in the shadow of the tallest mountain in North America.  Just to the north of our hotel was Denali.  Yep, we could see it, one of the so-called lucky 30% Club.

The Lodge

Eastern entrance, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

Our tour stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, a marvelous place with great mountain views  and, during the winter, massive amounts of snow.  The icicles hanging from the roof were a nice touch.  It’s been years since I’ve seen anything like that.

If I remember correctly, this is the entrance we would have used, but it was too icy!  We entered through main door instead.  The lobby is magnificent, with a massive stone fireplace dominating the central community area.

This hotel isn’t usually open during winter, but an exception is made in March, the peak viewing times for Denali and the aurora borealis.  I admit I did stand outside that first night, hoping to see the lights, but the sky was dark.

Downtown Talkeetna!

Buried under snow!

We had sunny skies during our time in Talkeetna, perfect for strolling around the small town a few miles from the lodge.  I did say small, didn’t I?  Talkeetna is only about two blocks long.  Still it has some quaint, old buildings, lots of gift shops, and piles of snow!

Icy road bordered by mounds of snow in Talkeetna, Alaska

If the above building is a shop, it must be closed until summer.  How would anyone get to it?  We made our way the couple blocks down toward the river.  I was amazed by the height of the snow as it lined the roadside.

That packed street was icy; I wore my cleats, such small items, but they were becoming essential wardrobe accessories.

The rivers

Mt. Foraker, Mt Hunter, and Denali on the horizon
Mt. Foraker, Mt Hunter, and Denali on the horizon

I think there’s a park at the river’s edge.  If so, it was buried under the snow.  As for the river, it was impossible to miss it, a vast expanse of ice.  We walked out onto the surface to photograph the mountains.  Talkeetna sits at the confluence of three rivers, the Susitna, the Chulitna, and the smaller Talkeetna, just tugged away to the right of the photo.  Most of the above picture looks out over the Susitna toward the national park.   As we clung close to shore, several folks went by on cross country skis with dogs and children in tow ready for day on the river.

Talkeetna Shops

We stopped to buy souvenirs and postcards.  In one shop, I heard the fantastic fact that Talkeetna’s mayor is a cat.  Of course, there’s a story here.  Back in 1997 the town elected a cat named Stubbs.  This was general write-in vote process, and Stubbs was mayor for about 20 years.  With his passing the mayoral vacancy was filled by another cat named Denali.  Alas, there is some controversy about this as some in town feel that there wasn’t a free and fair election.  Let’s just say there’s some dispute about Denali as mayor.  Ah, politics can be a nasty business.

All too quickly, it was time for lunch.  Our time in Talkeetna was limited and our options few.  The line at the pizza restaurant looked long, so my daughter and I tried Conscious Coffee.   Imagine sitting on the patio in Alaska in March!

Lunch at Conscious Coffee: a crepe and a large dark roast!
Lunch at Conscious Coffee: a crepe and a large dark roast!

The crepes were terrific, and for the record, my daughter and I split that brownie.

I suspect Talkeetna is busier in the warm months; it mainly serves as the jumping-off point for hikers and mountaineers.  I doubt I would want to return in summer; I like all that snow!

To see a few more images of wintery Talkeetna, please click here.




Elizabeth Boatman

Traveler, explorer, memory maker and someone who's just downright curious about stuff. It's all about finding joy.

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