advertisement

Talkeetna is famous for its laid-back atmosphere and outdoors, not for "attractions," but there are several places to stop in to get the sense of the place. If you come in May or June, you're sure to meet many international mountain climbers; you'll have no difficulty picking them out. Along Main Street are shops where artists and craftspeople often can be found at work. For your walk, pick up a copy of the "Talkeetna Historic District Walking Tour" brochure from the museum (in the next paragraph) for a map and informative explanation of the town's story, including details such as the site of its first bathtub, which arrived in 1923.

The Talkeetna Historical Society Museum, in five buildings on the Village Airstrip a half-block south of Main Street (tel. 907/733-2487; www.talkeetnahistoricalsociety.org), is well worth a stop. The first building contains artifacts and displays on local mining history, including engaging photographs and biographies of individual characters. The second is an old railroad depot, relocated here and furnished with period decor. The third holds climbing displays and a huge scale model of Mount McKinley and the nearby mountains (don't miss it if you will fly over the mountain). The fourth is a 1916 trapper's cabin and the fifth a 1924 cabin, both with period artifacts. The museum is a handy information stop. It is open daily in summer from 10am to 6pm, generally closed in winter. Admission is $3, free for children 16 and under.

I've found the most affecting site in town to be the Mount McKinley Climbers' Memorial at the town cemetery, near the airstrip on the east side of the railroad tracks. Besides a memorial of granite plaques for lost mountaineers, there is a garden of monuments to many individual climbers, some in Japanese. The bodies of at least 36 climbers who died on the mountain have never been recovered. The propellers in the cemetery mark the graves of bush pilots.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.