Talkeetna, roughly midway between Anchorage and the entrance
to Denali National Park, is a town of about 500 that swells
in size from April through July as mountain climbers gather
to prepare for their assaults on Mount McKinley. They
are flown from Talkeetna on ski planes to base camp, a large
tent community on a glacier about 7,000 feet above sea level.
They then face a 13,000-foot climb to McKinley's south summit,
20,320 feet above sea level.
Although Talkeetna is 90 miles away from McKinley, visitors
may get as good views of it from an overlook on the road approaching
Talkeetna as they would from within Denali National Park. The park entrance is no closer than isTalkeetna to McKinley's
summit, and the closest road approach within the park is about
30 miles from the peak. Moreover, McKinley is often shrouded
in clouds and many visitors to the park never get a glimpse
of it while there.
Downtown Talkeetna is about as small and as informal as the
sign across the street from the town park suggests (much of
downtown is visible in the photo at the top of this page). Talkeetna
is a 14-mile side trip down the Talkeetna Spur Road from the
Parks Highway. It boasts restaurants, gift shops and lodging,
as well as picnic tables in the park.
Talkeetna's Winter Fest attracts attention in December. Its
highlights include the Bachelor Society Ball and the Wilderness
Woman Contest. Talent is essential to winning the Wilderness
Woman Contest, and the talents required are unusual: the ones
that would be necessary for survival in the wilderness.