While March in much of North America means slushy roads and gloomy gray skies, Alaska is still in the midst of pristine winter, with breathtaking views and adventure around every corner.
And nowhere is this more evident than in Talkeetna, a small Alaska town that comes alive each March.
Picture festivals, natural wonders and incredibly vibrant living. The air is crisp and clear, with sights of the towering Denali visible in the distance and the northern lights illuminating the night sky.
Summer in Talkeetna is bustling, with tourists and mountaineers from around the world pouring into the small village in the Susitna River Valley. Winter is claimed by Alaskans, for Alaskans.
Fernando Salvador, vice president and general manager of Pursuit’s Alaska Collection, has been in Talkeetna for two decades. He says he loves the serenity the winter brings. “Life centers on being outside,” he says. “It’s peaceful and calm here in winter.”
Most of Talkeetna's roughly 1,000 year-round residents love to spend time outdoors during winter. Popular activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, riding snowmachines and watching the northern lights.
This year, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge opens for March once again. Salvador says every year the temporary reopening is a big hit, and continues growing year after year. “Winter tourism in Talkeetna is still in its infancy, but the potential is huge.”
Here are seven reasons to visit Talkeetna in March:
- You can see Denali more clearly: Locals know the big mountain just looks better in winter. Fernando says you can generally see Denali 70 percent of the time in winter because the air is so clear — in summer that number drops to 30 percent. “We have the best view to showcase it right here at the lodge.”
- Fat biking is growing in popularity: Fat biking's a winter sport that’s gaining traction across the North. The annual Trio Fatbike World Championships have turned into a festival for lovers of mountain bikes with studded-tires each March in Talkeetna. If you don’t want to haul your own bike to Alaska or you’re looking to try fat biking for the first time, you can find rental shops in town.
- It’s the prime time for snowmobiling: Salvador says the March conditions remain perfect for touring on a “snowmachine,” as the locals call it. Travel through hundreds of miles of trails around Denali National Park for wildlife viewing and enjoying pristine snow-covered nature views.
- There’s still plenty of snow for Nordic skiing: The snow is fantastic on the world-class groomed ski trails in Talkeetna Lakes Park. The Nordic season culminates in the annual Oosik Ski Race and Tour. Up to 750 skiers from across the state head to Talkeetna in mid-March. “It’s a big party for the town,” according to Salvador.
- You might get the chance to experience the aurora borealis: Guests at the Lodge can request a northern lights viewing wake-up call. If someone reports a sighting, staff call through the list, and guests can come out to the back viewing deck. Salvador says sometimes it’s as early as 3 a.m. Some guests ignore the call, roll over and go back to sleep. But lots grab their coats and cameras to head out and catch a glimpse. “The aurora can be fleeting, so you’ve got to get out there,” he says.
- Making friends has never been easier: Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge runs a slimmed-down staff during March. That means employees and guests are able to make closer personal connections. There is time to sit with friends, both new and old, around the fireplace at the lodge or over food and drink in the Base Camp Bistro and Bar. While visiting Talkeetna, you’re sure to make a friend or two.
- It’s an amazing spot to learn about Alaska culture: The Denali Arts Council keeps the cultural scene bustling with live music, film screenings, art exhibits at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar and more. You can also spend time learning about rivers and salmon, dining at the beloved Roadhouse, or shopping for Alaska-crafted goods in town. There’s so much to experience in Talkeetna — you won’t want to leave!
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge opens on select dates in March every year. Book your getaway.