Six Quaint Small Towns To Visit In Alaska, North of Anchorage

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The 
full article was printed in Travel Awaits in November 4, 2021

Quaint small cities at all times tug at my
coronary heart. Born within the creating world, I vividly bear in mind the straightforward, laid-back,
and old school life. To get to know Alaska, it’s not sufficient to go to Anchorage
and Fairbanks, Alaska’s two large cities. To actually get to know this final
American frontier, one should expertise its smaller and extra distant cities.

On two highway journeys from Anchorage to
Fairbanks, we found 4 such cities; and the Alaska-Canada border additionally introduced
us with two others. These are the six that paint the inviting frontier image
of Alaska north of Anchorage; and, in a subsequent article, I’ll write about
one other six charming cities within the southern half.

Talkeetna


Dubbed the good of cool cities in
America,
Talkeetna
is located close to the bottom of Mt. McKinley, the very best mountain in North
America. Located within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough with an estimated inhabitants
of a bit of greater than a thousand, it is usually on the confluence of three rivers:
Talkeetna, Chulitna, and Susitna. The three rivers provide best-of-Alaska
rafting, boating, and sports activities fishing.  And
in summer season, it’s only a three-hour practice experience north of Anchorage.

We found the city once we received
hungry and appeared for a spot to eat on the way in which again to Anchorage after visiting
Denali National Park and being upset that McKinley was once more hiding behind
the clouds. Lucky for us, the restaurant we discovered on the Mt. McKinley View
Lodge, simply half a mile earlier than Denali South proper on George Parks Highway, had nice
views of the venerable mountain.


Talkeetna can also be a preferred staging
level for as many as a thousand climbers who come to beat McKinley each
yr. Even flight-seeing excursions and glacier landings originate from the
Talkeetna Airport, not Denali National Park. The many rustic miners’ cabins renovated
as lodging, eating places, and outlets are a part of the city’s wealthy historical past and
allure.

Pro-Tip: During summer season, Talkeetna is a
beehive of actions: out of doors markets, stay music concert events, and different
actions provided on the Talkeetna Ranger Station. And throughout winter, you may have
a great likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights right here.

Healy


Less than three hours north of
Talkeetna is Denali National Park and solely 11 miles north of the doorway is
the city of
Healy in
the Denali Borough of Alaska with an estimated inhabitants of little greater than a
thousand. It is a full-service, year-round group with loads of lodging and
eating choices and every kind of supplemental actions for park guests and transient
vacationers into Interior Alaska. We camped as soon as in Denali and on one other journey,
we stayed at a B&B right here.

Originally established as a
coal-mining city within the early 1900s, lots of the residents nonetheless work on the
close by Usibelli Coal Mine. After mining, the city’s second-largest business is
tourism, together with flightseeing operators of Denali. There can also be the historic
Stampede Trail, initially constructed within the Thirties as a path to the Stampede Mine, Alaska’s
prime antimony producer till 1970. Now the path has been included inside
Denali National Park’s expanded borders and stays highly regarded with snowmobilers,
mushers, and skiers in winter, or with ATVs in summer season.

Pro-Tip: This was the situation of
Fairbanks City Bus 142 the place Chris McCandless—of Jon Krakauer’s 1997 bestseller
Into the Wild—lived and died. It has
lately been relocated to the University of Alaska Museum of the North in
Fairbanks.

North Pole


Once you attain Fairbanks, the good
metropolis of Interior Alaska, there are two cities that you must take the time to
go to. Both are a part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The first is
North Pole
with a inhabitants of greater than 2.700. Just a bit of underneath half-hour from
Fairbanks, the city remains to be about 1,700 miles south of the Earth’s true
geographic North Pole. We love this city a lot that we went again the second
time we had been in Fairbanks. And, why not? This is the one place within the nation
the place it’s Christmas on daily basis!

Located on Mistletoe
Drive, the Visitor Center (closed from Sept. 1 to April 30) is an genuine
rustic Alaskan log cabin. There are two Christmassy “Welcome to the North Pole”
indicators for Instagrammable pictures. All streets on the town are Christmas-themed: Santa
Claus Lane, Snowman Lane, Kris Kringle Drive, and many others. Street lights sport a sweet
cane motif and lots of native companies, like Starbucks and McDonalds, are
designed such.

North Pole’s largest
attraction is the biggest Christmas Store you’ll ever set foot in. Named Santa Claus
House, its partitions are lined with kids’s letters to Santa. This modern-day
transformation of a buying and selling put up is the place we despatched postcards with “Christmas in
July” greetings to all our grandkids, postmarked North Pole, Alaska. Here, you
is usually a little one yet again, sit on Santa’s lap, and get misplaced within the enormous
stock of distinctive Christmas objects. You will certainly go house with fairly a number of.

Next to Santa Claus
House is the world’s largest fiberglass Santa at 42 ft tall, weighing 900
kilos. Santa’s reindeer, each actual and never, reside close by in what was
Santaland RV Park. We parked our RV there for an evening in 2009 on our solution to
Canada’s Yukon. It’s too unhealthy the homeowners of the Park have closed it; however its Christmas
reminders had been nonetheless there the final time we visited!

Pro-Tip: There is a celebratory landmark right here referred to as
“The Pole of North Pole.” It is one in all two beforehand created; its twin was
pushed out of a aircraft over the actual North Pole.

Chena


The different city is Chena, situated close to
the confluence of the Chena and Tanana rivers. Incorporated in 1903, it
disincorporated in 1973 and is now a part of the outskirts of Fairbanks referred to as
Chena Ridge, an hour’s drive from town middle. In its heyday, its inhabitants
was about 400. Today, it’s largely the
Chena Hot
Springs and Resort
.

We had an Alaskan lunch on the Resort
Restaurant—as soon as the unique pump station that offered water for the hydraulic
mining operations on the opposite facet of Chena Ridge—within the Main Log Cabin.
Afterward, we walked across the facility, particularly pretty that fall. I had
enjoyable taking photos of the small log cabins used for therapeutic massage remedy, the
out of doors horse park, the Main Lodge, and the out of doors scorching spring swimming pools. There
had been rental airplanes, Adventure Cats, ATVs, bikes, and canoes for exploring
the realm. But we opted to affix two excursions.


The first was to the Aurora Ice
Museum, the world’s largest such facility, with ice sculptures which can be extra
than ten years outdated, crafted by a husband and spouse staff that gained the World Ice
Sculpting Contest 5 occasions. Even if I used to be freezing—regardless of a big jacket
they offered—on the inside temperature saved at 25 levels Fahrenheit via a
pioneering chiller know-how, I used to be particularly delighted on the nice Ice Bar.
 

The second tour was to the primary
low-temperature binary geothermal energy plant in-built Alaska. It was working
on different vitality initiatives, together with the manufacturing and use of waste
vegetable oil for gas. The second a part of this tour was to go to the
Greenhouse, the place the Resort makes use of state-of-the-art know-how to nurture vegetation
for all their vegetable and flower necessities.

Pro-Tip: The close by Chena Lake
Recreation Area provides seashores, nature trails, and picnic areas.

Tok


There are additionally two small cities shut
to the Canadian border, waypoints to the subsequent journey, the place we spent an evening
every. From Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, Canada all the way in which to Mile 1422 in Delta
Junction, Alaska, we accomplished navigating the famed Alaska Highway in per week.
From Delta Junction, we stayed the night time in
Tok, inhabitants underneath 1,400.  We arrived late at night time and by chance the
campground’s native diner was nonetheless open. The subsequent morning we woke as much as a day
fully lined with smog from forest fires that had been raging all
round.  That was unlucky as a result of we may
not discover this city referred to as the Sled-Dog Capital of Alaska,” the place everyone
on the town is concerned with canine and mushing.

Pro-Tip: We advocate staying on the
Tok RV Village Campground.

Chicken


On our first journey, we determined to go
again to the decrease 48 on a distinct route (not the Alaska Highway) detouring to
Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon. This route took us via an all-gravel highway to
Chicken. The city’s summertime inhabitants was 32
(wintertime, 7), and we had been informed the city received its title as a result of the residents
couldn’t spell “ptarmigan.”  Chicken is all
of two campgrounds, one with gold-panning actions and the opposite with a
nation retailer.  We stayed on the former
which is up a hillside the place we witnessed a spectacular sundown.

Pro-Tip: The city had been up on the market
and lately it was purchased by the homeowners of Jack within the Box— reportedly for
10,000 Cluck Sandwiches!

I hope you loved this. Watch for my
subsequent article on “Six Charming Small Towns of Southern Alaska.”
 

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