Talkeetna, Alaska

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Talkeetna, Alaska
Welcome to beautiful downtown Talkeetna.jpg
Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.
Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.
Talkeetna, Alaska is located in Alaska
Talkeetna, Alaska
Talkeetna, Alaska
Location within the state of Alaska
Coordinates: 62°18′41″N 150°5′13″W / 62.31139°N 150.08694°W / 62.31139; -150.08694Coordinates: 62°18′41″N 150°5′13″W / 62.31139°N 150.08694°W / 62.31139; -150.08694
CountryUnited States
 • Borough mayorEdna DeVries
 • State senatorMike Shower (R)
 • State rep.David Eastman (R)
 • Total96.35 sq mi (249.54 km2)
 • Land94.22 sq mi (244.02 km2)
 • Water2.13 sq mi (5.52 km2)
348 ft (106 m)
 • Total1,055
 • Density11.20/sq mi (4.32/km2)
Time zoneUTC−9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−8 (AKDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)907
FIPS code02-74830
GNIS feature ID1410591

Talkeetna (Dena'ina: K'dalkitnu) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, United States. At the 2020 census the population was 1,055, up from 876 in 2010.[2]


Tourists on Main street in Talkeetna, Alaska in June 2015

Talkeetna is located at the confluence of three rivers, the Susitna, Chulitna and Talkeetna. Talkeetna began in 1916 when the area was chosen as a district headquarters for the Alaska Railroad. A post office opened as well as a sawmill, trading post, cigar and donkey store and other businesses as well as many cabins. In 1917, the residents encouraged the government to survey the lots on which their homes stood. In 1919, the railroad surveyed and auctioned eighty lots, 41 of which already had permanent structures on them. The average price at the sale was $14.25.[3]

Flightseeing, rafting, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting make up a large portion of the local economy. Talkeetna is a 2½-hour drive from Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. The core downtown area (Talkeetna Historic District) is on the register of National Historic Places, with buildings dating from the early 1900s including Nagley's General Store,[4] Fairview Inn and the Talkeetna Roadhouse.[5]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 42.9 square miles (111 km2), of which, 41.6 square miles (108 km2) of it is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) of it (3.19%) is water.


The climate is continental subarctic (Köppen: Dfc), assuming some characteristics like warm-summer but the shorter duration of the hot season and long winters give the town boreal features and in terms of vegetation is composed of taiga (Cook Inlet Basin[6]), different from the southcentral coastal more diversified.[7][8][9] Even though the cold, dry air comes from the north, the moisture acquired comes from the Gulf of Alaska.[10] That is, summers are between a short duration and an average duration. It is lighter than Yellowknife, Canada at similar latitudes due to the moderating effect of the Pacific Ocean and the adiabatic warming of the descending air from the surrounding mountains. The average annual temperature is 0.8 °C, the average precipitation is not as high but relatively well distributed during the year, about 686 mm on average.[11]

Climate data for Talkeetna Airport, Alaska (1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1918–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 47
Mean maximum °F (°C) 38.1
Average high °F (°C) 22.2
Daily mean °F (°C) 14.2
Average low °F (°C) 6.2
Mean minimum °F (°C) −24.3
Record low °F (°C) −48
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.36
Average snowfall inches (cm) 22.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 9.5 8.9 7.9 7.9 11.6 13.2 15.6 17.7 16.8 12.9 10.0 11.4 143.4
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch) 10.3 9.5 8.0 3.8 0.5 0 0 0 0.5 5.6 11.6 13.0 62.8
Source: NOAA[12][13]
  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e., the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[14]

Talkeetna first appeared on the 1920 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village. It was made a census-designated place (CDP) in 1980.

The 2020 population was 1,055.[2] As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 772 people, 358 households, and 181 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 18.6 people per square mile (7.2/km2). There were 528 housing units at an average density of 12.7 per square mile (4.9/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 87.95% White, 3.76% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 1.30% from African American, and 6.87% from two or more races. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 358 households, out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.0% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.4% were non-families. Thirty-eight percent of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the CDP, the population was spread out, with 23.3% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 35.4% from 25 to 44, 29.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 113.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 114.5 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $38,289, and the median income for a family was $46,818. Males had a median income of $34,732 versus $26,250 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $23,695. About 7.2% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.8% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.


Nagley's Store. The Nagley family are pioneer residents of Talkeetna. They were also partners in the Westward Hotel in Anchorage, a predecessor to today's Hilton Anchorage Hotel.
Fairview Inn.

Talkeetna is the base for expeditions to Denali (also known as Mount McKinley).[16] The Denali National Park's Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station is located in Talkeetna. Tourists travel to Talkeetna each summer to fish salmon, raft and go flightseeing.[17] Products from local artists, musicians and craftspeople are available in area stores.[18]

Susitna Dam[edit]

The Susitna Dam is a proposed hydroelectricity plan from the State of Alaska. The Governor of Alaska, on July 25, 2011, signed a bill to build the dam on the glacier-fed Susitna River.[19] The dam would become, if built to its full design height, the fifth-tallest of the nearly 850,000 dams on Earth. The Susitna River, America's 15th-largest by volume, flows unimpeded for 300 miles (480 km) from glacial mountains through one of the planet's last wild landscapes to meet the Pacific near Anchorage.

Soon after the dam's construction was announced, the Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives was formed to fight its construction. It is their argument that recreation, nature and the town would be severely threatened by the dam, and have compared it to the Three Gorges Dam in China.


Talkeetna Roadhouse, made of log construction in 1917, features an inn, bakery, and restaurant

Every March, the Oosik Classic Ski Race is organized by the Denali Nordic Ski Club. Distances are approximate and trail conditions are variable.

The Moose Dropping Festival, a two-day celebration held each July, came to an end with the announcement on August 21, 2009, by the Talkeetna Historical Society that the festival has been canceled.[20] The event was named after a lottery where participants bet on numbered, varnished pieces of moose feces, or "moose droppings" dropped from a helicopter onto a target. A softball tournament historically has been held on the same weekend as the Moose Dropping Festival but is not part of the festival itself. Other events that typically held on Moose Dropping Festival weekend included a five-kilometre walk-run—also not a part of the official festival, a Mountain Mother contest, and a parade. The festival went under scrutiny from PETA, and they began a campaign against it after a misinterpretation led them to believe that the festival involved moose being dropped out of helicopters.[21] This took several heated letters and hours of phone conversations to clear up with PETA and make them recognize that moose droppings were being dropped from helicopters, rather than the actual animal.[22]

In December, the Wilderness Woman and Bachelor Auction & Ball takes place.[23]

Talkeetna's largest celebration of the winter, called Winterfest, takes place during the entire month of December, and features a motorized Parade of Lights, a lighted tree in the Village Park, a Taste of Talkeetna, and numerous special events hosted by local businesses and special events at Talkeetna Public Library.


Since Talkeetna is only a census-designated place, it is unincorporated.[24] Talkeetna has a Community Council[25] and its mayor was a cat named Stubbs from 1997 until his death in 2017.[26][27] It is located in Matanuska-Susitna Borough's District 7, which is represented by Assembly Member Vern Halter,[28] who succeeded borough mayor Larry DeVilbiss.[29]

Stubbs, Honorary "Mayor", held office from 1997 to 2017

A popular rumor states Stubbs was elected following a successful write-in campaign by voters who opposed the human candidates.[30] However, according to NPR, the cat could not have been elected as a write-in candidate because "The tiny town has no real mayor, so there was no election."[26] Stubbs' position is honorary as the town is unincorporated.[31] On August 31, 2013, Stubbs was attacked and mauled by a dog while roaming the streets and after treatment at the local veterinarian returned home on September 9.[32] Stubbs died on July 21, 2017, at the age of 20 years and 3 months.[33]

Legislative representation[edit]

The following individuals have represented Talkeetna in the Alaska Legislature since statehood:


Talkeetna Elementary School is located near the heart of downtown Talkeetna. Grades K–6 are taught at this location.

A new Susitna Valley Junior-Senior High School opened in January 2010, replacing the one that burned to the ground in June 2007 while repairs were being made to the roof.[34] In the interim, classes were held in portables on the grounds of the Upper Susitna Senior Center. The mascot of Susitna Valley Junior-Senior High School is the Ram.


Talkeetna has a community radio station, 88.9 KTNA, with locally hosted shows and NPR programming. Talkeetna has a local newspaper, the Good Times, which has a distribution of 7,500 year-round and serves the communities of Talkeetna, Trapper Creek, Willow, Houston and Big Lake, with additional distribution along the Parks Highway as far north as Nenana during the summer months. The Good Times is currently published every other week in print.[35] Publishers of the Good Times also publish a local area phone book and an annual visitors guide. Another newspaper, The Alaska Pioneer Press, which was under different ownership and was published monthly, ceased publication in January, 2011, after its owners moved out of the area. Whole Wheat Radio, an independent webcast, began broadcasting in 2002, which was relatively early, and ceased in 2010.[36][37]


Talkeetna is served by Talkeetna Airport, which is home to several air taxi companies that provide flightseeing trips and support for mountain climbers. Many of the air taxi companies were started to ferry climbers from Talkeetna to Denali, as Talkeetna has the easiest access to the south side of the mountain where the main base camp is located. Legendary bush pilots such as Don Sheldon and Cliff Hudson, both based out of Talkeetna, pioneered glacier flying on Denali (formerly Mount McKinley). Their companies, Talkeetna Air Taxi and Hudson Air Service (now operating as Sheldon Air Service), respectively, are still in operation.[38]

The Talkeetna Airstrip is a restricted use airstrip and on the list of National Historic Places also.

Talkeetna is a stop on the Denali Star, Aurora Winter Train, and Hurricane Turn trains of the Alaska Railroad.

Sunshine Transit Coalition started in March 2009. An educational symposium in 2008 pinpointed transportation as one of the biggest barriers to education and health care. The Coalition's goal was to break down those barriers and make transportation easy and accessible to every resident no matter what their income level. Sunshine Transit, Public Transit for the Upper Susitna Valley runs five days a week along the Talkeetna Spur Road. Future goals include expanding service, and number of vehicles, to Trapper Creek and south on the Parks Highway as well as service in the community of Willow.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

The town of Talkeetna was mentioned in Travel Channel's Man vs Food. In season 2 episode 16, the host travels to the Roadhouse, a restaurant in Talkeetna, to sample their unique breakfast dishes. Also featured is West Rib Pub & Cafe.

The town of Cicely from the television series Northern Exposure has been said that it could be patterned after Talkeetna by a journalist,[39] but it has not been confirmed by any cast member. Filming actually took place in Roslyn, Washington.[40]

Talkeetna features heavily in Railroad Alaska,[41] a TV Show on the discovery channel. The show has three seasons and deals with the lives of the people who work the railway and the off grid people who depend on the railroad for supplies and access to medical facilities.[41]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "2020 Census Data - Cities and Census Designated Places" (Web). State of Alaska, Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  3. ^ "Talkeetna history". Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
  4. ^ "Nagley's Store history". Archived from the original on 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  5. ^ "Talkeetna Roadhouse history". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  6. ^ T. Feirer, Shane (August 2004). "Ecorregions of the Alaska". Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Nature Conservancy in Alaska. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  7. ^ "Talkeetna, Alaska Travel Weather Averages (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  8. ^ Gates, Nancy (November 2006). The Alaska Almanac: Facts about Alaska. Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. ISBN 9780882406527.
  9. ^ Ring of Fire, Resource Management Plan: Environmental Impact Statement. 2006.
  10. ^ "An Ecological Overview of Denali National Park and Preserve (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  11. ^ "Climate Talkeetna: Temperature, Climograph, Climate table for Talkeetna -". Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  12. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". noaa. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  13. ^ "Station Name: AK TALKEETNA AP". NOAA. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  15. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2013-04-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Denali Flightseeing". The Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  18. ^ Thiessen, Mark (June 22, 2020). "Quirky Alaska town struggles for survival amid coronavirus tourism fallout". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  19. ^ "Susitna-Watana Dam Project". Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2013-06-22.
  20. ^ "Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival". Talkeetna Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  21. ^ "Talkeetna Base of Denali National Park". Karen's Talkeetna Tour Blog. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  22. ^ "PETA Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival Misconception". Talkeetna Locals. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  23. ^ "Talkeetna Bachelors are back on the market". Talkeetna Bachelor Society. Retrieved 2009-06-19. Talkeetna's biggest annual winter celebration, known as Winterfest, takes place throughout the entire month of December.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2012-07-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "TKA Community Council".
  26. ^ a b "Following Up On Tuesday's Feline Mayor Story". Morning Edition. NPR. July 18, 2012. The tiny town has no real mayor"
  27. ^
  28. ^ "District 7". Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2012-07-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Alaska town: Feline mayor is the cat's pajamas". Houston Chronicle. 15 July 2012. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  31. ^ Friedman, Amy (July 17, 2012). "Cat Marks 15 Years as Mayor of Alaska Town". Time. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  32. ^ "Alaska town's honorary cat mayor goes home after dog attack". Fox News.
  33. ^ Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary cat mayor, dies Archived 2017-07-23 at the Wayback Machine, by Chris Klint, at KTVA; published July 23, 2017; retrieved July 23, 2017
  34. ^ Moses, John (June 7, 2007). "Su Valley Jr./Sr. High burns; Talkeetna school a total loss". Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  35. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  36. ^ News-Matsu, an online news source covering the Mat-Su Borough, was launched in 2013.
  37. ^ Deyoe, Sue (2010-10-26). "Whole Wheat Radio ends its 8 year run". KTNA. Retrieved 2011-06-09. [...] announced the end of his website [...] unique online radio station over 8 years ago, which might have been a first for Alaska in the online world.
  38. ^ "Denali Park Transportation and Support Services". National Park Service. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  39. ^ Woodmancy, Don (January 16, 2003). "Talkeetna, Alaska". Roadtrip America. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  40. ^ "A Town Goes Alaskan for 'Northern Exposure'". The New York Times. 1991-06-17. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  41. ^ a b "Railroad Alaska (TV Series 2013– )". IMDb. 16 November 2013.

External links[edit]