The Great One - Denali (AKA Mt. McKinley)

The Great One - Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley) 20,320 Feet

Northern Exposure

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

Friday, June 15 Through Saturday, June 16, 2007

Outside our window, across the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, the Alaska Range explodes from the valley floor. The centerpiece is Denali, the tallest mountain in North America.

Often shrouded by clouds, visitors don't always get to see the mountain as we learned last year. Last summer, we spent five days constantly studying the horizon and seeing only low rain laden clouds. Instead of staying at Denali Backcountry Lodge inside Denali National Park, we spent a night at the Talkeetna Alaksan Lodge, We were not disappointed.

The Room

Our West Wing third floor mountain range facing room was larger than quite a few appartments I've lived in. We had a kitchenette which included a breakfast bar, cabinets, full size sink, microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker. The living room, in the same space as the kitchen, had a bookshelf, fireplace, leather couch, leather loveseat, plasma TV, DVD player, CD player, and a large window.

The bathroom had a corner jacuzzi tub, and standalone shower. Only one sink though.

The bedroom had a fireplace, comfortable king size bed, and a large window. Both the living room and bedroom windows can be opened.

On the down side, the heat seemed stuck on and the room stayed over 75° with the windows open all night. I suspect this was an isolated problem.

From the room and from the viewing deck where I took the bulk of the scenic pictures, the view was amazing. I could see the Susitna and Chulitna Rivers.

Pictures of the room can be found starting here.

The Lodge

The lodge's service was good. Desk people allowed us to check in at 1:00 PM, two hours early. They don't always have your room ready so you can't count on being able to check in early. However, it appears that if the room is ready, it is yours. The lodge lobby has a huge stone fireplace with logs always burning.

There are two restaurants in the lodge - the Foraker Dinging Room where we ate dinner and the Base Camp Bistro where we ate breakfast. Service and food are better than expected. I've found service in Alaska to be generally disorganized. Not here. For dinner, we shared a crab cakes appetizer. I had the Caramelized Walnut Salad, my wife, the Caeser Salad. The walnut salad was amazing. Who thinks of these food combinations? A slice of cambozola cheese, a pile of greens, and a very thin slice of walnut pie. At first, the walnut pie threw me. It was made like a quality pecan pie. Mixing the three types of food in my mouth released the most amazing flavors. Of course, I'm not doing it justice. The presentation of the walnut salad was very well made. The main course was the Alaskan Wild Salmon. It came with a twice baked potatoe and fresh grilled vegatables.

But wait, there is more! I told my wife as I finished my meal that the only way I would have desert is if they had Key Lime Pie. They did! Even more amazing - they know how to make it. They make their own deserts.

My wife enjoyed her Caeser Salad, fresh Alaskan Halibut dinner, and desert as well. Very satisfied.

How To Get There

You can get to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge a number of ways. We drove the 120 miles up from Anchorage in around two hours. All the roads are paved. Close to Anchorage, it is all four lane freeway. As you get closer to Talkeetna, the highway becomes two lane. Basically, you just drive to Talkeetna. Nothing complicated. The driveway for the Lodge has good signage. The lodge is just a few miles South of Talkeetna on the Talkeetna Spur Road. I suppose you could miss it but if I found it, so can you.

Buses are another option. We saw a number of tour buses in the Lodge's parking lot. We also saw more standard type public transportation buses on the way into Talkeetna. Don't know which bus or tour lines.

The Denali Star Train also stops in Talkeetna. The Lodge can pick you up from the train station.

What To Do When You Are There

The Lodge is very comfortable. You can just hang out and relax. If you like long walks, there are trails around the Lodge. You can even walk a trail into Talkeetna.

Going into town is fun. The TV show "Northern Exposure" was based on this community. Walking around you see bits of the show.

Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce Sixties Era VW Microbus - Grateful Dead Sticker Nagley's Store Talkeetna Roadhouse Historic Fairview Inn
Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce Sixties VW Microbus with Grateful Dead Sticker Nagley's General Store Talkeetna Roadhouse Historic Fairview Inn

From the Talkeetna Airport, a number of companies offer flightseeing tours of the area. Go to the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce website to find listings.

You can go horseback riding along the river.

You can take a jetboat on river tours.

Flight-Seeing Horseback Riding Jetboat Tours
Flightseeing Horseback Riding Jetboat Tour

If that isn't enough, find a spot and just gaze at the Alaskan Range.

Alaskan Range

To see all of the pictures taken in and around the Lodge and Talkeetna, click here.

Copyright © 2007 Larry Pearson - All Rights Reserved