Rainy Day

Talkeetna Travel Blog

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True to his word, Richard was right on time.  The day was cool and overcast.  We were soon riding north on George Parks Highway.  The "Parks" as it is called by locals, begins at its junction with the Glenn Highway, 35 miles northeast of Anchorage.   This is a heavily traveled road because it serves as the link between Alaska's two largest cities ~ Anchorage and Fairbanks.   Not an hour into our journey, the skies opened up and rain poured down.  Because of poor visibility, we weren't able to enjoy the beautiful Alaska scenery that surrounded us on all sides.   Mile after mile clicked by as we rode north in the rain.   Richard was friendly and talked as he drove.   After several hours and 120 miles, we found ourselves in the village of Talkeetna, population 450.

In the summer months, this little town is a popular tourist stop and is used as a staging area for climbing expeditions to Mount McKinley.  But since the weather had provided a wet mess, we practically had the town to ourselves.   The Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers join the Susitna River here, thus the name "Talkeetna" which is an Indian word meaning, "where the rivers join."  Originally the site of a Tanaina Indian village, the town of Talkeetna was established in 1896 as a mining town and a trading post.  A gold rush to the Susitna River brought prospectors to the area and by 1910, Talkeetna was a riverboat steamer station.   World War I and completion of the railroad in 1919 dramatically decreased the population.   Several of its original log buildings are historical landmarks and the town itself was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April, 1993. 

After a simple lunch, we sloshed up and down the streets, poking our heads in a few of the shops.  I wasn't interested in shopping and was more intent on our destination for the day ~ McKinley Village Lodge ~ just a short six miles south of the entrance to Denali National Park.  At mile marker 135.2, a turnout provides incredible McKinley views (on a clear day) and there is a well-marked sign pointing out the various mountains in the Alaska Range.  The map of the mountain range on the sign was the only view we would have of McKinley today.   Another ninety miles and we were sitting in the parking lot of our hotel.  The rain had stopped and now we were dealing with heavy fog.  Tomorrow we were touring Denali so I was praying for a clear day.  We had traveled so far and I wanted to see the mountain ~ McKinley.
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photo by: schochon