Talkeetna Lodge set to double in size

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TALKEETNA, Alaska -- Climbers attempting to trek the 20,320-foot-high Mount McKinley, called Denali, or "the Great One," by native Alaskan Athabaskan Indians, regularly use Talkeetna as the base camp for their great ascent.

Lately, however, Talkeetna has become a destination unto itself.

Shore excursions put together by cruise companies include Talkeetna as a stopping point between Anchorage and Denali National Park.

Benefiting from this influx of visitors is the 98-room Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge.

With 104 additional rooms scheduled to come on line next May, bookings are already coming in strong for next summer, said general manager Sharlene Berg. This past summer, the lodge maintained 90% occupancy, said Berg.

Royal Caribbean alone has blocked 80 rooms a week throughout next summer to accommodate its new tour company, Royal Celebrity Tours, she said.

Meanwhile, Holland America's tour company filled an average of 30 rooms a night this summer, Berg said.

In addition to cruise passengers, another of the lodge's major markets is independent travelers who come to Talkeetna to fish its salmon-rich Susitna River, said Berg.

In the winter months, the inn relies on local conferences to fill its empty rooms weekdays and on locals for weekend business.

The lodge is made up of seven buildings, including a main lodge and four guest lodges. All rooms feature dataports, coffeemakers, satellite TV and hair dryers. Outside, a hot tub bubbles and steams year-round on the lower deck.

At the Base Camp Lounge near the lobby, guests sip beer, wine and spirits while viewing a Hall of Fame wall celebrating climbers who "peaked" Denali.

"The lodge captures the spirit of the mountain better than its own national park," said Berg.

Rates range from $99 per person, double, during the shoulder season, to $169 per person, double, May through August.

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Phone: (888) 959-9590
Web: www.talkeetnalodge.com

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