On the Susitna River near Denali National Park, this quaint town is surrounded by wilderness.
More than half a million visitors reach Denali National Park each year, and Talkeetna is a common stopping point on the way. Many visit the small community for abundant camping, fishing, and outdoor opportunities set on the banks of the Susitna River, which offers boat access and has great wade fishing access on numerous creeks and streams. It’s only a few hours driving north of Anchorage but also reachable by train or bus. RV camping and tent sites are available in town, and the general area has plenty of camping.
The Susitna River or “Big Su” as locals call it, runs right past town. A boat landing offers access for motorized watercraft. The river is a major highway for salmon migrating to spawning grounds and it also has wild whitewater and incredible views of the Alaska Range. Take a guided jet boat tour on a covered deck to experience different sections of wilderness and the famous Devil’s Canyon whitewater stretch.
Denali National Park is the big attraction for many Talkeetna campers and it’s an incredible landscape to experience. Many trips begin at the visitors center to gain an understanding of the general area, trail systems and safety precautions needed for the park. Take the shuttle or ride a bike down the main road, hike to Horseshoe Lake or explore the vast backcountry on foot if you’re an experienced navigator. Guided hiking tours, dogsled tours, and river rafting are also all available near the park.
Alaska Range flightseeing tours leave from the Talkeetna airport, taking visitors over some of the most rugged and unpopulated country on earth. Viewing glaciers and steep mountain slopes from the sky while also flying over river valleys where moose, caribou and grizzly bears roam is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can do this directly out of Talkeetna without entering the park by road.
While the Susitna River is great for fishing, it’s a large river that requires expert knowledge and equipment to access and have success. The surrounding streams are smaller and serve as spawning grounds for salmon in the region. The Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers are often productive and smaller streams like Clear Creek and Prairie Creek have salmon, trout and dolly varden available in the summer fishing season.
Talkeetna is accessible by road and is a year-round destination. The vast majority of visitors arrive during summer when the days are long and warmer. Salmon runs also occur during peak summer, making July and August the best times to visit the area. It’s also a good time for camping comfortably and hiking around Talkeetna and Denali National Park. Days begin getting shorter in September and on through winter. Although cold, winter brings dog sledding into action and visitors come to snowshoe and cross country ski. Viewing the northern lights here in winter is also an amazing way to spend a night.