Drive the Dalton Highway
View bears at Katmai.
Fighting eagles in Seward
Cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours
Visit puffins at the Sealife Center

June: Spectacular Southcentral

We awoke in our tent with the sound of the river, strong and rapid, rushing just a few hundred yards away. I lay in the tent, enjoying the rhythmic sound of the water, while glancing at my son, asleep with the deep abandon that exhausted 10-year-olds acquire on camping adventures.

We were rafting part of the Matanuska River north of Sutton, in the scenic 
Matanuska Valley. The river is easily accessible in Southcentral. In this part of the state, which also includes the Susitna Valley, there is fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, rock climbing, birding, mountaineering, cycling—you name it. Further to the south is Anchorage and its surrounding communities, which offer countless recreation opportunities.

Let Alaska Tour and Travel’s team of Alaska travel experts plan your custom land package to Alaska’s most spectacular destinations such as Southcentral Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley and Anchorage destinations, Kenai Fjords, Denali and Talkeetna.  (800-208-0200)

For do-it-yourselfers, the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau offers comprehensive visitor information to the Mat-Su Valley. Stop by the Visitor Center at Mile 35.5 on the Parks Highway, or request a visitor guide atinfo@alaskavisit.com. (907-746-5000)

For a real Alaska adventure let the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerceguide you in the right direction. From flight seeing to dog mushing, jet boating to rafting, Nordic skiing to hiking, it’s easy to enjoy Talkeetna. (907-733-2330)

Photo by Kris Valencia: Visitors to downtown Anchorage can get information at the visitor’s center in a log cabin on Fourth Avenue.

In Anchorage, and its close surroundings, you’ll get to experience Big Wild Life as you’ve never seen it before. Living large just comes naturally in Anchorage and the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau can help you experience it. Step foot on a glacier, encounter local wildlife, catch wild salmon or experience Alaska Native culture. (800-478-1255)

If your adventures begin near the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, then the Knik River Lodge is right for you. They feature affordable airboat and helicopter tours to Knik Glacier with glacier landings, dog sledding and grand views of the mountains. Recommended on Trip Advisor. (877-745-4575)

If a little bit of pampering is on your list, the Matanuska Lodge is waiting for you. Luxury and comfort await you in this boutique log home environment. Relax in the hot tub and sauna or go hiking, ice climbing and rafting. (907- 746-0378)

Also in the Mat-Su Valley is the town of Big Lake where you can stay and play at the Alaska Sunset View Resort. Luxury and relaxation meet the beauty of Alaska’s wild side at this waterfront resort on Big Lake, “Alaska’s Year Round Playground.” (877-892-8885)

Come visit Kepler Park for great outdoor recreation and relaxation. This park has been family owned and operated for 59 years. The campground is on two scenic lakes where guests will enjoy camping, picnicking, hiking, boating and fishing. They provide pedal boat, rowboat, and canoe rentals. Centrally located between Palmer and Wasilla. (907-745-3053)

To brush up on your Alaska history, visit the Dorothy G. Page Museum, which hosts a variety of permanent displays about gold mining, wildlife, homesteading and the Iditarod race. Walk through time in eight historic homes and buildings. (907-373-9071)

In the Susitna Valley, Talkeetna Cabins offers handcrafted, spacious log cabins located in downtown Talkeetna. Come enjoy quality accommodations with great hospitality from owners Peg, Kevin and family. (888-733-9933)

Swiss Alaska Inn has 20 modern, comfortable, non-smoking rooms with private baths. The restaurant offers casual dining. Try the Swiss-style French toast and famous omelets or homemade soups, chili, buffalo burgers, halibut and salmon, steak, schnitzels and salads. (907-733-2424)

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge invites you to enjoy the panoramic views of Mount McKinley from your room, dining areas or the large outdoor deck. Dine on the award-winning cuisine featuring Alaska seafood and an extensive wine list. (877-777-4067)

The Talkeetna Majestic is an authentic Alaskan log home with a large porch to catch the morning sun or enjoy an evening drink. Relax in the cozy catwalk nook or use the massage chair after a day of fishing, trekking or flightseeing. (907-733-5900)

If fishing is what you’re after, join Stephan Lake Lodge for awesome freshwater fishing. Spot-cast to your fish in the crystal clear waters of Stephan Lake and nearby streams. Enjoy a magical Alaskan experience in the comfort of our lodge. (907-696-2163)

While in Talkeetna, be sure to stop by Kahiltna Birchworks the oldest and largest birch syrup producer in the world. Take a tour of the facility and see how they make their pure, organic birch syrup with sap from area birch 
forests.  (800-380-7457)

If you want to eat like a local, look no further than the Talkeetna Roadhouse. They have been serving locals and visitors alike since the early 1940s. The bakery produces cinnamon rolls, pies, savory pasties, quiche, reindeer chili and hearty soups. (907-733-1351)

For a side trip while in the Mat-Su Valley, visit the Skwentna Roadhouse, a rustic Alaska lodge with comfortable lodging, fine food, and unique adventures for the avid outdoorsman. (907-733-2726)

From any of these locations—the Knik, Matanuska or Talkeetna—a traveler can also enjoy fishing, hiking or river rafting, among other activities.

Just Fly Fish offers guided, wade-style fly-fishing trips for experienced anglers and beginners alike. They specialize in rainbow trout catch-and-release. Half- and full-day guided trips available. And if you still need lodging? Inquire about their cozy log cabin with a panoramic view of Denali. (907-733-5332)

Catch large salmon on a guided fishing charter with Fishtale River Guides.  With friendly guides, roomy boats, quality rods, reels, tackle and fish filleting provided, there’s not much else to wish for. Fishing instruction, customized boats, trip-planning assistance and high salmon-catching success rates, all at reasonable rates.  (800-376-3285)

Willow Air specializes in fly-in fishing, drop-off hunts, scenic flights, cabin rentals, wilderness lodges, float trips and bear viewing. They also offer fully guided and outfitted hunting and fishing trips. Only 70 miles north of Anchorage. (800-478-6789)

Guests from all over the world have enjoyed the warm hospitality and professionalism of 907 Tours. From Turnagain Arm to the Matanuska Glacier, their day tours offer glaciers, wildlife and outstanding nature. (907-947-9425)

If you’re looking for a glacial adventure, Nova Alaska River Adventures has scenic and whitewater rafting on the Matanuska River. Glacier treks and ice climbing instruction can be combined with river trips for a discounted full-day outing. (800-746-5753)

Let Alaska Denali Tours help you build a custom vacation package. Their experienced tour consultants will help you build a complete package in top
destinations. (800-808-8068)

Let Talkeetna Air Taxi help you explore the breathtaking landscape of Mount McKinley. The No. 1 choice of visitors, climbers and film professionals for glacier landings since 1947. (800-533-2219)

Denali ATV Adventures is a must-do activity with four tours lasting two to four hours. There’s even a midnight sunset trip! All riding gear provided. See wildlife or even Denali. (907-683-4288)

Outdoor adventure comes with some risk, but Sunshine Community Health Center provides comprehensive primary health care at two locations: Talkeetna and Willow. Its dedicated staff strive to provide excellent, individualized patient care. After-hours urgent care in Talkeetna.  (907-733-2273)

Geneva Woods Pharmacy is ideal for travelers with special medical conditions. They sell and rent wheelchairs, oxygen, respiratory equipment, mobility, and other medical equipment and supplies. Locations in Anchorage, Wasilla and Soldotna. (800-478-0005)

Anchorage offers both luxury and rustic charm for those who might want a sampling of both.

The Anchorage Alaska Bed & Breakfast Association carefully inspects and approves B&B inns and ensures their cleanliness so that visitors may confidently select comfortable, safe, clean lodging that reflects hospitality and Alaskan style in unique settings. (888-584-5147)

The Puffin Inn, near the International Airport and Lake Hood, is just 10 minutes from downtown Anchorage. They offer complimentary airport shuttle, breakfast, business center, wireless Internet, laundry facilities and pet-friendly accommodations. (800-478-3346)

Photo by Kris Valencia: Farmer’s markets offer a variety of locally grown produce.Stop by the Alaska Botanical Gardens. They are located on 110 acres of boreal forest, and feature cultivated perennial, herb, wildflower and alpine rock gardens interconnected by nature trails through the spruce and birch forest. The garden is habitat for wildlife. Guided tours are available.  (907-770-3692)

For a cultural experience you won’t soon forget, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Guests experience Alaska Native culture first-hand through engaging storytelling, song and dance, artist demonstrations, games demonstrations and more. Explore six authentic, life-size village sites. (907-330-8000)

At the Alaska Aviation Museumthere are four hangars of vintage aircraft, bush pilot exhibits, flight simulator, unique store and three theaters.  The museum is located on Lake Hood, the world’s busiest seaplane base. Take the free airport shuttle. (907-248-5325)

Alaska is a big place, and the Alaska Railroad is the perfect way to get around. They have vacation packages that include rail transportation, tours, and hotels in the most popular, must-see destinations.  (800-544- 0552)

ABC Motorhome & Car Rentals will help you reserve a motorhome or rental car, plan your itinerary and book your tour reservations. The Anchorage-based outfit has an outstanding staff of long-time Alaskans who are always ready to assist you.  (800-421-7456)

For the traveler willing to venture the extra mile, take a trip toUnalaska/Dutch Harbor and let their convention and visitors bureau help you. This is a true gem located in the heart of the Aleutians. Come see for yourself and discover unforgettable Unalaska. (877-581-2612)

The Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers Co-operative is the headquarters for Alaska Native owned knitters that hand knit qiviut garments. Qiviut is the downy soft under wool of the musk ox and is eight times warmer than wool and does not itch on most people.  Help support an Alaska Native co-op that provides income to people in the rural villages. (888-360-9665)

And, while Alaska may be the rustic Last Frontier, it is not lacking in style.ShuzyQ is a fantasy come true for women who love shoes beyond reason. You’ll find gorgeous shoes from size 5 to 12 and priced from $35. Open seven days a week. (907-743-2953)

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