August 16, 2015

Time for Talkeetna

Tim and I left Wasilla on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  The forecast for the next week or more is for more rain and cloudy conditions, not what we want to hear as we make our way towards Denali National Park.

Our plan for today was to go as far as Talkeetna, a quirky little town that reminded us of McCarthy.  Talkeetna is a popular destination for vastly different groups of people.  Every spring, the town is the starting point for mountaineers who are planning to climb Mt. McKinley, which is known as Denali in Alaska.  The National Park Service has a ranger station in Talkeetna, and all climbers must start their journeys there. 

Welcome to Talkeetna

We stopped by the visitor center and watched the excellent film that follows the climbers as they make their preparations for, and then climb, “The High One.”  It’s daunting just to contemplate what is involved and how determined someone must be to attempt a climb.  Just over 1,000 climbers registered to climb the mountain this summer, and 57 percent made it to the summit.

Flight services based in Talkeetna ferry climbers to the base camp at 7,200 feet.  We had hoped to take a similar flight and land on the glacier there, but the weather was just not cooperating.  Although we had built several extra days into our schedule to allow for inclement weather, the forecast for the next week doesn’t look any better.  Sadly, this is one adventure that Tim and I will have to forego this summer.

I can’t be too disappointed, however, because we have been so unbelievably fortunate in virtually every other day trip we have taken since arriving in Alaska.  For the most part, the weather has been very good, and when it hasn’t been, we still had amazing experiences.  Although a flight to Denali was something that Tim and I were really looking forward to, we just can’t control the weather.

Tim Finally Caught Some Fish!
Let's Mush!

We had fun walking around Talkeetna and taking the obligatory cheesy, tourist photographs.  I mentioned earlier that vastly different groups end up in Talkeetna.  One group is busloads of cruise ship passengers on the land portion of their tours.  I’ve read that the numbers of people can overwhelm this small town, but the throng of tourists was manageable by the time we arrived in the afternoon.  After the Alaska Railroad pulled in and picked up the tour groups around 5:00 pm, the town was even more pleasant.

Historic Log Cabins on Main Street

Eclectic Means of Transportation

We had an excellent dinner at The Roadhouse.  Originally built in 1914 and established as an official roadhouse in 1944, it’s one of the most popular cafes and bakeries in town.  We also wandered into the Nagley’s Store in hopes of seeing the town’s mayor, a cat named Stubbs.  Stubbs has been the honorary mayor of Talkeetna since 1997, and he usually hangs out around the store.  Unfortunately, he was nowhere to be found, and I was sad to leave Talkeetna without meeting him.

Great Food at the Roadhouse

Where's Stubbs?

Tim and I had originally thought we would spend three nights on the road before arriving in Denali on Wednesday.  We thought this would give us time to wait out the rainy weather and hope that the mountain would make its appearance.  The long term forecast for continued rain, however, makes that prospect unlikely, thus prompting us to rethink our options.  We have now decided to scratch our original plan.  We’re spending tonight in a pullout just outside Talkeetna and will head directly to Denali tomorrow.

Fun in Talkeetna


  1. That's too bad about the weather. I think Hector and Brenda sucked up all the sunshine...haha:) Weather can change quickly, so I am hoping you get at least one peak at Denali. Good Luck:)

    1. I think you are right! It must be Hector and Brenda's fault! However, just to be fair, their flight from Talkeetna was also cancelled due to weather. Since we will be spending a fair amount of time in the park, I have my fingers crossed that Denali will show her face.


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