They call Alaska “The Last Frontier” for good reason. Though the bigger Alaskan towns get most of the travel hype, there are ways to go off-the-beaten-path in Alaska. Remote and intimate, the town of Talkeetna has a population of less than a thousand people. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do in this tiny town. The best way to experience Talkeetna is to take a Celebrity Cruisetour, where you can experience this frontier town for yourself in a land and sea package on the way to other Alaskan destinations like Seward or Anchorage. A Cruisetour can be arranged before or after a seven-night cruise on Alaska’s stunning coast and gives you a chance to head inland for unforgettable experiences. With Cruisetours, you have the unique chance to tailor your vacation to your interests, whether you’re a nature lover or an adrenaline seeker.
Talkeetna is home to incredible nature, including whitewater rafting and kayaking along the Chulitna River or a syrup-tasting at Kahiltna Birchworks, which produces the area’s birch syrup. River guides, fishing, rock climbing, and wilderness hikes are par for the course during your time in Alaska, but Talkeetna also has plenty to offer in the way of cute family-owned businesses, a quaint microbrewery, and a very walkable downtown.
Of course, the main draw for visitors during an Alaska Cruisetour are the panoramic views of Denali—you might know it by its old name, Mount McKinley—and Alaska’s stretch of breathtaking mountain ranges, which Talkeetna residents boast is even better than if you were catching a glimpse from within Denali National Park itself.
Talkeetna’s walking trails are both scenic and offer incredible views of Talkeetna Lakes Park. Head into the dense evergreen woods surrounding the town. After a light hike, animal sightings, and bird watching, head into downtown Talkeetna for a well-earned craft beer and some Alaskan salmon.
Views of Denali mountain and the awe-inspiring Alaska range are easily taken in from Talkeetna without heading into Denali National Park itself. As part of your Cruisetour, you’ll journey into the park, but you can also sit on the back patio of the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge with a hot cup of coffee admiring the views.
During the summer, nothing can beat a leisurely float on the Talkeetna River, where water sports can range from lazy to adventurous depending on your mood. Talkeetna is strategically located where the Chulitna, Talkeetna, and Susitna Rivers meet, making it the perfect spot for different levels of whitewater rafting, jet boating excursions, and fishing. Look carefully to spot Alaskan salmon.
During the Cruisetour, be sure to sign up for a ziplining adventure where the cool Alaskan breeze and stunning vistas from zipline to zipline offer an unforgettable experience. See Denali’s evergreens and the Alaskan Mountain Range in even greater detail than you could experience on foot or from a helicopter ride.
Locally sourced ingredients and lots of love go into the dishes at Wildflower Cafe, which has a focus on sustainability and thoughtful ocean farming. They also have over 40 beers on tap to choose from.
Local microbrewery Denali Brewing is well-loved by locals and visitors alike. It’s a casual brewery where local ingredients make for tasty deli sandwiches, burgers, and desserts made in house. There’s also a tasting room.
Spinach Bread Food Truck
Don’t miss the chance to try the spinach bread at the Spinach Bread food truck, a shining Silverstream. Locals quickly grab lunch and snacks from the local food truck scene.
Head to the Talkeetna Roadhouse for the classic Alaskan roadhouse experience. This location dates back to 1917, and offers both sweet treats and pastries from the bakery. Stay for breakfast and bottomless coffee, too.
Indigenous populations, specifically a group known as the Athabascans lived in the interior part of Alaska for thousands of years prior to any outside settlement. During the 20th century, the gold rush hit, and ever since, prospectors and miners flocked to the area to make a name and wealth for themselves. By 1917, Mount McKinley National Park, now known as Denali National Park, was established to protect the region’s natural beauty. The thing to do in Talkeetna and the surrounding areas is to experience Denali Mountain. Today, Talkeetna is an adventure traveler and hiker’s dream, with options to see the Northern Lights in the fall and winter or river paddle during the temperate summer months.
With your Cruisetour, you’ll have all the necessary transportation provided as part of the experience. There are six Cruisetours that pass through Talkeetna for a one night stay. You’ll arrive in Talkeetna via a deluxe motor coach or the railway. There is also a shuttle to downtown provided by the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, should you want to explore, go shopping, or enjoy lunch downtown.
Downtown Talkeetna’s shopping mostly focuses on quintessentially Alaskan souvenirs and artisanal goods. During the summers, there’s an open-air market on the weekends and on Mondays to highlight the works of local makers and artists. Stop at Talkeetna Gifts and Collectibles for souvenirs made of local birch, Eskimo memorabilia, and more. Looking to memorialize the wildlife and nature you’ve seen? Pick up a print or postcards from the Denali Images Art Gallery while you’re here.
You’ll use the U.S. Dollar (USD) when you’re traveling in Alaska or taking an Alaska Cruisetour. Tip your restaurant server or bartender 15-20% of the bill as you would anywhere else in the United States. Carrying cash is helpful in these smaller towns, but credit cards are commonly accepted. Be sure to ask the establishment if they are cash-only.
Talkeetna, Alaska: The Talkeetna frontier spirit, rustic small-town charm, and breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks of the Alaska Range are the embodiment of Alaskan hospitality and remote wilderness. Among climbers, Talkeetna is recognized as the staging ground for preparations to summit Denali. Mountaineers from around the world start here, filling the town’s hotels and bars with expedition excitement. With a population of under 1,000, locals keep the backcountry spirit of Alaska alive. Log cabin cafés, the gold-rush-era historic district, and Main Street provide a place where you can mill with the bohemians, aviators, and adventurers who call the town home, including Stubbs, the feline honorary mayor. Situated near the base of Denali, this unique location offers breathtaking views of the tallest mountain peak in North America. There’s so much to explore on a Talkeetna cruise; from seasoned bush pilots taking you up into the skies and over the breathtaking north face, to leisurely hikes on quiet trails, and river rafting down the glacially fed Talkeetna river. With Main Street running the scope of backcountry cuisine — from brew pubs to fine dining to converted air streams serving namesake signature dishes — and teeming with eclectic personalities, you’ll see Talkeetna lives by her unofficial motto, ‘Talkeetna; Where the road ends and life begins.’