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2013 SUMMER VISITORS GUIDE


Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

www.frontiersman.com


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Hello, future :-) Here’s to the next 60 years.

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Couplers & Trailer Jacks

Hubs, Drums, Brakes, Tires, & Wheels

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WASILLA, AK

ANCHORAGE, AK

ANCHORAGE, AK

FAIRBANKS, AK

2281 E. Sun Mtn. Ave. Wasilla, AK 99654 (907) 376-8000 (800) 478-1902 (AK)

4748 Old Seward Hwy Anchorage, AK 99503 (907) 563-5490

3000 Commercial Dr. Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 276-5171 (800) 478-5173 (AK)

3060 S. Cushman Fairbanks, AK 99701 (907) 452-6160 (800) 770-7499 (AK)

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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DeeZee Toolbox

www.frontiersman.com


Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

Serving The Valley Since 1994!

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2550 E. PALMER-WASILLA HWY Just 1 mile from Parks Hwy. in Wasilla

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HOUSTON, ALASKA

Consistently voted best campground of the Valley!

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WHERE TO FIND IT Q

INDEX OF ADVERTISERS

INFORMATION & SERVICES

Wasilla

Palmer

QKnik Museum ..............................................................13

QCache Camper .............................................................. 8

CAMPING & RV PARKS

QEdmond’s Import Auto ............................................33

Houston

QMat-Su Convention & Visitors Bureau................... 2

QLittle Susitna River Campground ........................... 4

QSummit Family Practice ...........................................19 QThe UPS Store ..............................................................10

Valdez QValdez Convention & Visitors Bureau .................40

Wasilla QSix Robblee’s ................................................................. 3

Palmer QKepler Park Campground .......................................20

QBig Bear Campground..............................................24

CHURCHES Palmer

QCamper Valley RV ......................................................... 8

QLazy Mountain Bible Church ..................................29

QDiversified Tire .............................................................. 4

QSt Michael’s Parish .....................................................29

QTub House & Tanning ...............................................27

Wasilla

ACCOMMODATIONS

QPilgrims Baptist Church ...........................................29

FISHING

QTotem Inn .....................................................................17

Seward

Kenai

QThe Fish House............................................................37

QQuality Inn ....................................................................11

Valdez

Palmer

QValdez Fish Derbies ..................................................... 9

QColony Inn ...................................................................... 2

FOOD & DRINK

QPeak Inn.........................................................................27 QPioneer Motel..............................................................26

Wasilla QAlaska’s Select Inn .....................................................11 QHillside Cabins ............................................................38

ATTRACTIONS / ACTIVITIES Anchorage QAlaska Aviation Museum.........................................34

PUBLISHER Mark Kelsey (907) 352-2255 mark.kelsey@frontiersman.com

MANAGING EDITOR Heather A. Resz (907) 352-2268 heather.resz@frontiersman.com

QFairview Loop Baptist Church ...............................29

Healy

QValley Hotel ..................................................................23

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide is a publication of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman and its parent company, Wick Communications. Visit us online at frontiersman. com. © Copyright 2013

Wasilla

QBudget Rent a Car ......................................................18

QWasilla Chamber of Commerce ............................35

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide

Palmer QDowntown Palmer Deli ...........................................25 QHumdingers Gourmet Pizza Co ............................20 QOpen Cafe.....................................................................23 QPeak-A-Brew Espresso..............................................27 QPeking Garden ............................................................27 QRusty’s Restaurant .....................................................23 QTurkey Red ...................................................................22 QVagabond Blues .........................................................23

PHOTO EDITOR Robert DeBerry (907) 352-2266 robert.deberry@frontiersman.com

SALES & MARKETING DIRECTOR Cheryl Metiva (907) 352-2291 addirector@frontiersman.com

PRESS FOREMAN Ryan Sleight 907-352-2282 ryan.sleight@frontiersman.com

ACCOUNTING Joanne Briceland (907) 352-2263 accounting@frontiersman.com

CIRCULATION Christy Pinkerton (907) 352-2251 circulation@frontiersman.com

QERA Aviation .................................................................. 7

Wasilla

Kennicot

QGrape Tap ....................................................................... 4

GRAPHIC DESIGN

QLast Frontier Brewing Co. ........................................38

Julie Metcalf, Anita Humphries

QKennicott Glacier Lodge ..........................................31

Palmer QArtic’s Air Academy ..................................................... 9 QBackcountry Bike & Ski .............................................26

QMocha Moose..............................................................15 QSettlers Bay Lodge ....................................................... 3

RETAIL

QFishhook Golf Course ...............................................24

Palmer

QFriday Fing ...................................................................26

QJust Sew ........................................................................23

QMat-Su Miners Baseball ...........................................21

QStamp Cache ...............................................................22

QMusk Ox Farm .............................................................25

QThe Gallery ...................................................................22

QPalmer Golf Course....................................................21

QThe Garden Gate ........................................................23

QPalmer Museum of History & Art ..........................22

Wasilla

QReindeer Farm ............................................................28

QCastle Boutique ..........................................................39

Seward

QGold Rush Jeweler’s ..................................................38

QAlaska Sea Life Center ..............................................19

QSylvia’s Quilt Depot ...................................................18

Valdez

QTown Square Art Gallery............................................ 8

QStan Stephens Cruises..............................................40

www.frontiersman.com

QValue Village ................................................................32

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

STAFF WRITERS Jeremiah Bartz Greg Johnson Andrew Wellner

PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 5751 E. Mayflower Ct., Wasilla, AK 99654 Mailing: P.O. Box 873509, Wasilla, AK 99687 PHONE: (907) 352-2250 FAX: (907) 352-2277 BUSINESS HOURS: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday Page 5


Welcome to the Mat-Su Valley

Whether you’ve come for a visit or are considering relocating to this area, welcome to Alaska and the Mat-Su Valley! About 90,000 people live, raise their families and play in the Mat-Su Borough year-round. We work hard and play hard. We’re friendly folks who take pride in helping each other. Visit a museum or the Musk Ox Farm. Try your hand at salmon fishing. Take in a flightseeing tour of Denali. Enjoy our shopping and restaurants. Maybe take the family on a guided horseback or ATV tour. Or, take a hike, pick some berries and take some photos of our magnificent scenery along the way. Whatever your personal preference, there is plenty to savor this summer in the Mat-Su Valley. Whether you are planning to spend a month, a week or a day with us, we recommend taking time to meet our neighbors, because the best thing about Alaska is the people who live here. REMEMBER TO PACK AN EMERGENCY TRAVEL KIT • cellphone • map • first-aid supplies • tire gauge • flares • flashlights with extra batteries • a sturdy tire jack • lug wrench • some traveler’s checks or cash • blankets or sleeping bags • rain gear • extra set of car keys • mosquito repellent • gas can with extra gas (do not transport gasoline inside your vehicle)

ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Wyatt Shields, 3, waves as Antique Power Club tractors make their way along the parade route in Palmer during the 2012 Colony Days celebration. IMPORTANT LOCAL CONTACT INFORMATION

EMERGENCY Emergencies (fire, police, medical) .............................................911 Mat-Su Borough (EMS, Disaster Service) ...................... 373-8800 Alaska Emergency Services .................................... (800) 478-2337 Community Resource Help Line ..................................................211 LAW ENFORCEMENT Alaska State Troopers-Palmer ........................................... 745-2131 Palmer City Police................................................................... 745-4811 Wasilla City Police................................................................... 352-5401 HOSPITALS Mat-Su Regional Medical Center-Palmer ..................... 861-6000 Mat-Su Regional Urgent Care-Wasilla............................ 352-2280 Alaska Native Health Service ..................................(907) 563-2662

Page 6

EARTHQUAKES Alaska Tsunami Warning Center/Palmer ....................................................... 745-4212 WEATHER Travel Alerts & Road Conditions...................................................511 Highway & Weather Conditions............................(800) 478-7675 FAA Pilot Weather Briefing Outlook ........................................(800) 992-7433 FAA AWOS Wasilla ................................................................. 373-3801 Talkeetna.................................................................................... 733-1637 National Weather Service Marine and Boating Area Forecast......................... 800-472-0391

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

OTHER RESOURCES Mat-Su Borough Air Quality Report................................ 352-3878 Women & Children Shelter................................................. 746-4080 STAR (Rape crisis line) ................................................(800) 478-8999 Toxic, Chemical & Oil Spill prevention................(800) 424-8802 Big Lake Chamber of Commerce ..................................... 892-6109 biglakechamber.org Palmer Chamber of Commerce........................................ 754-2880 palmerchamber.org Wasilla Chamber of Commerce ........................................ 376-1299 visitwasilla.org Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau....................... 746-5000 alaskavisit.com Palmer Visitor Center ............................................................ 745-2880 cityofpalmer.org

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Where to ‘go’

Where to stay in the Mat-Su Valley

Do you just want to get in and get out, not be bothered by sales people or feel bad about not purchasing something when using the facilities? Well, here is a list of public restrooms in the Palmer and Wasilla areas to put your mind at ease:

The Matanuska-Susitna Valley has plenty of accommodations for travelers searching for comfortable lodging. Here are a few options:

WASILLA • Wasilla City Hall, 290 E. Herning Ave. • Newcomb Wasilla Lake Park, Parks Highway by Pizza Hut. • Carter Park Lake Street, 600 Lucille Dr. • Dorothy Page Museum, 323 N. Main St. • Wasilla Public Library, 391 N. Main St. • Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center, 1001 S. Mack Drive. • Iditapark/Wonderland, on Swanson in downtown Wasilla. PALMER • Palmer City Hall, 231 W. Evergreen. • Palmer Public Library, 655 S. Valley Way. • Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, 723 S. Valley Way. • Portapotties across the street from the Visitors Center, on the green. • Mat-Su Borough Building, 350 East Dahlia Ave. • Palmer Ice Arena, 480 E. Cope Industrial Way.

• Agate Inn in Wasilla — The Agate is a country-style inn. Multiple buildings on 16 acres can accommodate two to six people each. Contact 373-2290, (800) 770-2290 or visit agateinn.com. • Best Western Lake Lucille Inn in Wasilla — Located off the Parks Highway in Wasilla, this hotel features fine dining, a lounge and beautiful views of adjacent Lake Lucille and the Chugach Mountains. Contact 373-1776 • Valley Hotel in Palmer — Conveniently located in historic downtown Palmer, the Valley Hotel has amenities such as a beauty salon, bar, and liquor store. The hotel’s Round House Café is open 24 hours. Contact 745-3330 • Colony Inn in Palmer — Across the street from a restored Matanuska colony house, this inn is a piece of history itself. The Colony Inn served as a dormitory for teachers and nurses who came to work in the Matanuska Colony’s first classrooms and hospital. The Colony Inn has vintage furnishings, but modern hotel rooms with private baths. There’s also a fullservice restaurant and meeting rooms for groups. Contact 745-3330.

OVERNIGHT Mat-Su Borough locations with overnight camping and restroom facilities:

There are tons. Dozens are listed in the phone book and many at the Mat-Su Bed and Breakfast Association’s website, alaskabnbhosts.com. Here’s a sampling: • Alaska Garden Gate, on Trunk Road between Palmer and Wasilla, offers cottages or guest rooms. Contact 746-2333 or visit gardengatebnb.com. • Moose Wallow near Palmer, Mile 2.9, Buffalo Mine Road. Cabins available, as well as accommodations for small conferences and meetings. Contact 745-7777. • Rose Ridge Vacation Chalets at Mile 5, Palmer-Fishhook Road has a chalet and a cottage. Contacts (877) 827-7673 or 745-8604. • Shady Acres B&B — In a quiet and secluded neighborhood near downtown Wasilla, Shady Acres is convenient to area lakes and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters and its museum and gift shop. Contact 376-3113 or (800) 360-3113.

• Matanuska River Park, Old Glenn Highway east of Palmer just before Matanuska River Bridge. This park is a beautiful camping area with hot showers, flush toilets, a dump station for motor homes and hiking trails right along the river. • Lake Lucille Park, off Knik-Goose Bay Road by the Iditarod Museum. • Little Su River, 57.4 Parks Highway, with 86 spaces tents or RVs, a dump station and large picnic pavilions. • Deshka River, tent camping with portapotties. • Talkeetna River Campground, 12 tent sites.

BED AND BREAKFASTS

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HOTELS/INNS

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(from where you are to just about anywhere in Alaska)

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Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

Page 7


Uniquely, the Mat-Su Valley

Welcome to the Mat-Su Valley. You’ll also hear this region of Alaska referred to as “Matanuska-Susitna,� “the Mat-Su,� “the Valley� and the “Mat-Su Borough.� Either way, Alaskans will know what you mean. Our names are drawn from the Matanuska and Susitna rivers that carved these valleys and left behind a landscape dotted with hundreds of lakes. About half of the people who live in the Mat-Su commute to jobs outside the borough’s boundaries. Some work in Anchorage and Eagle River, while other workers commute to jobs in the oil fields on the North Slope. Statewide, Alaska includes more than 20 mountain ranges, three of which ring the Mat-Su — the Alaska Range, the Talkeetna Mountains and the Chugach Mountains. Alaska also features the highest mountain in North America — Mount McKinley, which locals refer to as Denali. On a clear day, Mount McKinley and Foraker are often visible along Big Lake Road and farther up the Parks Highway north of Willow. Look for pullouts for viewing the mountain at various locations along the highway. Another excellent viewing opportunity (on a clear day) is just outside of Talkeetna, on the Talkeetna Spur Road, or from the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge.

VICKI WARD

Frontiersman reader Vicki Ward shared her photo of Mt. McKinley.

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Take Alaska

ALASKA’S HIGHEST MOUNTAINS

Elevation McKinley, south peak ................................................................................................................. 20,320 McKinley, north peak .................................................................................................................. 19,470 Saint Elias ......................................................................................................................................... 18,008 Foraker .............................................................................................................................................. 17,400

ALASKA STATE SYMBOLS Bird .............................................................................................................................. Willow Ptarmigan Fish .........................................................................................................................................King Salmon Fossil ...........................................................................................................................Woolly Mammoth Gem ....................................................................................................................................................... Jade Mineral ..................................................................................................................................................Gold Sport ....................................................................................................................................Dog Mushing Tree ........................................................................................................................................ Sitka Spruce Flower ..............................................................................................................................Forget-Me-Not

Alaskan Artwork from Fred Machetanz, Jon Van Zyle, Gail Niebrugge, Shane Lamb, Byron Birdsall, Rie Munoz, Barbara Lavallee, Nathalie Parenteau & many more! )BOE5ISPXO1PUUFSZt4UFSMJOH4JMWFS+FXFMSZt"SU(MBTT Unique, Fun & Affordable Gifts

Custom Built Campers, Canopies, & Kennels Specializing in RV Parts & Repair – Servicing Alaska Since 1971

907.745.4061

Carrs Mall, Wasilla

907-376-0123 Voted the Valley’s Best Art Gallery! www.townsquareartgallery.com

Email: cachecamper@live.com www.cachecamper.com On Bogard Road across from the fire station near Trunk Road

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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Experience Mat-Su from the air

If you’re looking to bag a few peaks this summer but aren’t ready to slip on crampons and grab an ice pick to do it, several area aviators offer a wide range of flightseeing choices. Such flights also offer visitors a taste of what’s off the road system here in the Mat-Su Valley. • Sheldon Air Service Inc., Talkeetna: The company’s website lists three tours, all of Mt. McKinley, ranging in price from $220 per person to $300 per person, with an extra charge for a glacier landing. The tours last one hour to 90 minutes. Contact (800) 478-2321, 7332321 or visit sheldonairservice.com. • K2 Aviation, Talkeetna: K2 offers four tours of Mt. McKinley and some of the surrounding park area. They range in price from $205 to $310 per person. An optional glacier landing usually runs $75 extra. Contact (800) 7642291 or visit flyk2.com. • Talkeetna Air Taxi, Talkeetna: TAT offers scenic charter flights, fly-in hiking and charters for rafting trips in addition to tours of Mt. McKinley. There are four tours listed on TAT’s Photos by Paul Roderick / TalkeetnaAir.com website with prices running from $199 to $300 with an optional $85 glacier landing. Contact Carrying climbers, skiers and sightseers to the remote regions of Alaska is 733-2218, (800) 533-2219 or visit talkeetnaair. Talkeetna Air Taxi’s (TAT) specialty. com. • Willow Air Service, Willow: The company specializes in guided and unguided hunting and fishing trips, but offers a flightseeing of Mt. McKinley, Hatcher Pass and the Knik Glacier. Prices vary and are based on the size of the group, but could go as low as $55 for a half-hour trip, according to the company’s website. Contact 495-6370, (800) 478-6370 or visit willowair. com. • Grasshopper Aviation, Wasilla: Grasshopper offers charter flights, flightseeing and fly-in recreational flights. The company 1ST PLACE: $15,000 offers tours of Mount McKinley, Prince William Sound and the Knik Glacier. Tours range in price from $185 to $349 per person. Some include glacier landings. Contact 373-6923 or visit grasshopperaviation.biz. • Last Frontier Air Ventures, Chickaloon: A helicopter company, Last Frontier’s website offers tours of Mt. Marcus Baker that 1ST PLACE: $15,000 includes tours of two glaciers: Matanuska and Knik. Contact 745-5701 or visit lfav.com.

Halibut Derby May 18 - Sept 1, 2013

Silver Salmon Derby July 20 - Sept 1, 2013

KIDS’

Experience Alaska’s Wilderness

PINK SALMON DERBY July 20, 2013

Women’s Silver Salmon Derby August 10, 2013

Stunning Scenery and Wildlife

746-2290

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www.frontiersman.com

WWW.VALDEZFISHDERBIES.COM

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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1-877-746-2290

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ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Heads of broccoli sit on display at Friday Flings in Palmer as Seth Dinkel helps a customer to fresh produce. Summer brings farmfresh produce to stands around the region.

Midnight sun produces loads of fun, jumbo-sized veggies

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It’s true that communities such as Barrow — 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle — in the northernmost parts of the state experience months where the sun never rises and never sets. But here in Southcentral Alaska, our daylight varies from Summer Solstice, when we will have 19.33 hours of daylight on June 21, to Winter Solstice, when the sun will rise for 5.18 hours Dec. 21 before sinking below the horizon again. Compare that to Barrow, where for three months, from May to August, the sun never sets, and from mid-November to mid-January, the sun never rises. In the Mat-Su Valley, all that sun makes ordinary garden crops grow to extraordinary sizes. Every year at the Alaska

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

State Fair, local folks compete to grow the biggest veggies. But year-round, Alaskans enjoy locally grown crops, such as carrots and potatoes. Look in the produce bins at local grocery stores for Alaska Grown vegetables. Or, you can pick your seasonal favorites at various farmers markets in the area. Some local farms also offer people the opportunity to pick their own produce. If you want to see farming in Alaska you’ll have to leave the main roads a bit. A drive along the Springer Loop system, the Old Glenn Highway in the Bodenburg Butte area or Palmer Fishhook Road off the Glenn Highway north of Palmer will reveal several small farms growing everything from vegetables and livestock to flowers. www.frontiersman.com


Celebrating 100 years of Alaska history

This year marks the centennial for several Alaska milestones, including the first successful summit of Denali, the first airplane to fly in Alaska and explorer Jack Dalton’s trip to the Matanuska Coalfield. 100 years ago, trails were key to transportation. Last year, 2012 marked the centennial of the Iditarod Trail, a continuous winter trail between Seward and Nome to the Iditarod goldfields, based on ancient Alaska Native trails. More than 53 tons of gold — worth $2.1 billion at current values — was hauled from Iditarod to Seward between 1911 and 1920, mostly by dogsled. The annual Iditarod Trail Sled dog race commemorates this chapter in Alaska’s history and tips its hat to the 1925 Serum Run to Nome. Winter weather prevented planed from delivering the serum and sled dog teams were called on to carry the vaccine from Nenana to Nome. As a historic figure, Dalton also straddles this period in history when trails, sled dog teams, pack horses and riverboats were being edged out by trains, planes and automobiles. After establish-

100 years of flight The same year Dalton led the Navy expedition to Chickaloon, a group of Fairbanks merchants shipped an airplane from Seattle to Fairbanks via steamboat for a barnstorming spectacle. The entrepreneurs sold tickets to the show with no concept of how the technology of air travel would alter life in the Last Frontier Continued on Page 17

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Great Mountain Views

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www.frontiersman.com

Although the Chickaloon coal passed all steaming tests on the battleship U.S.S. Maryland, the coal in the mine was badly faulted and folded, and proved too expensive to operate. So mining moved 20 miles to the west to Eska and Wishbone Hill. A spur rail line from the Alaska Railroad to the mines at Eska and Jonesville following Dalton’s route operated successfully until 1970. Dalton went on to work for the Alaska Engineering Commission on the construction of the Alaska Railroad.

ing the first All-American overland route to the Alaska gold fields during the Yukon Gold Rush, Dalton spent some time developing the transportation system in the Matanuska Valley. In the summer of 1913, Dalton led Dr. Holmes, chief of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, and George Evans, a mining engineer consultant to the Navy, on an expedition to the abandoned Watson Mine near Chickaloon at the east end of the Matanuska Coalfield. At the mine, Holmes and Evans concluded that a sufficient amount of coal could recovered for a naval test shipment of 900 tons. Part of the cost-plus contract Dalton signed with the Navy required him to deliver the coal to tidewater on the Matanuska River, about 75 miles away, where the coal could be loaded in boats. To accomplish that in a wilderness with only trail and river access, Dalton’s crews constructed about 43 miles of road and numerous bridges, and used the frozen Matanuska River as a road during the winter of 1914 to freight the 900 tons of coal by horse-drawn bobsleds.

Bogard Road

Alaska’s Select Inn

1-888-357-4786

3451 Palmdale Dr., Wasilla (Off Bogard & Seward Meridian) www.alaskaselectinn.com

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Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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LOCATION

MILEAGE TO ALASKA DESTINATIONS

Alaska is big. It’s twice the size of Texas and one-fifth the size of the Lower 48. Alaska also boasts the northern most point in North America — Point Barrow — and the most western point — Cape Wrangell. And with 6,640 miles of coast, Alaska represents more than 50 percent of the entire U.S. coastline. Most of Alaska and the Mat-Su Borough isn’t road accessible: you need a small plane, snowmachine or boat to reach many of our favorite places. If you are using the Alaska Atlas or the Milepost to navigate, be sure to note the distance between gas stations and various other amenities. Also, just because a roadway’s name includes the word “highway” — such as the Denali Highway — don’t assume that means it is paved, drive-able at highway speeds and open yearround. The alphabetical list to the right shows some driving distances between the MatSu Valley and selected Alaska destinations. Enjoy your trip.

Page 12

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Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

5

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MILEAGE

Anchorage ............................................................ 42 Cantwell ..............................................................168 (Denali Highway/Parks Highway Junction) Chena Hot Springs .........................................378 Circle Hot Springs ...........................................478 Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay ..............................801 Denali National Park ......................................195 Fairbanks ............................................................316 Girdwood ............................................................. 79 Glennallen .........................................................147 Hatcher Pass ....................................................... 26 Homer .................................................................275 Hope ....................................................................130 Kenai ....................................................................200 Kennicott ...........................................................272 Knik Museum ..................................................... 25 Matanuska Glacier ............................................ 60 Portage ...............................................................102 Seward ................................................................168 Soldotna .............................................................189 Talkeetna ............................................................. 70 Valdez ..................................................................346 Wasilla ................................................................... 10 Whittier ...............................................................108 Willow ................................................................... 40 Willow ................................................................... 50 (via Hatcher Pass Road)

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Schedule of summer events BIG LAKE

• Big Lake Summer Solstice, June 17 -18 — Sponsored by the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce the event includes family fun, a parade, a boat parade, water sports and games, and a triathlon featuring biking, swimming and running. The fun concludes with a dance/ball and the coronation of King and Queen Neptune. • Big Lake Triathlon, July 28 — A USA Triathlonsanctioned event, which spotlights athletes swimming, running and biking. This competition starts at North Shore Campground, check in beginning at 8 a.m., shotgun start at 10 a.m. Vendors and spectators welcome. For more information, call 892-6109 or visit biglaketriathlon.org. • Independence Day celebration, July 4 — includes a barbecue, band performance and fireworks. HOUSTON

• Founders Day, Aug. 17 — The third Saturday in August, the Houston community celebrates annually with a live band, free barbecue and fireworks. For more information, call 892-6557. KNIK

• Third Annual Alaska State Triathlon/Big Dog Duothlon,

ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Participants in the 2012 Susitna Rotary Little Su Classic paddle their way along the 18-mile course of the Little-Su River from Schrock Road Bridge to the Parks Highway. Aug. 6, Sunday, check in a 9 a.m., race starts at 10 a.m. at Knik Lake, Mile 13, Knik Goose Bay Road. For more information, call Bill Fleming at 243-4709 or visit akstatetriatholon.com. • Sunday Barbecues And Music On The Lawn, May 26 to Sept. 1, Sundays until the snow flies at Tug Bar, Mile 18.5, Knik Goose Bay Road. Enjoy open-air concerts and barbecue food served outdoors on the lawn.

• Sunday Market: 1st and 3rd Sunday’s from May 26 to Sept. 1 at the Tug Bar. For more information, contact Terry 376-5720. PALMER • Mothers Day, May 12 — At the Musk Ox Farm just north of Palmer, Mother’s Day takes on a special meaning. All moms get in for free. Families can enjoy free tours of the farm where these ice-age creatures roam, graze, and even

Knik Museum Mushers Hall of Fame Mile 13.9 Knik-Goose Bay Road Summer Season May 30 – September 15

Thursday – Sunday 1–6 p.m.

376-7755

play their version of soccer. Entertainment, games and barbecue foods will be available as well. The Musk Ox farm is located at Mile 50.1, Glenn Highway. For more information, contact 745-4151. • Historic Downtown Palmer’s Friday Flings, May 19 to Aug. 18, Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., an open-air park and pavilion across from the Palmer Visitors’ Center in

Continued on Page 15

2013

Museum Outdoor Events June 2nd

National Trails Day Observed Knik Museum Open House: 1–6 pm

July 21st

Museum’s 30th Annual Picnic Come share Potluck Picnic 1–5 pm, “Rain or Shine!” with Wasilla-Knik Historical Society members

A museum in a restored 1910 building, exhibits Knik’s Gold Rush Era, 1897-1917; Portrait Galleries, Sleds, Iditarod Sled Dog Race early history. Admission: $5, Senior, kids under 18 - $2, Family $10 www.frontiersman.com

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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Day Hikes There are more than 2,000 miles of recreational trails in the Mat-Su Valley, so for those itching to explore the area on foot this summer, here are a few possibilities. Lazy Mountain Trail Distance: 2.5 miles Ease: Moderate to difficult Trailhead features: Large parking area, public restrooms, picnic tables, fire ring Nearest town: Palmer Getting there: From Palmer, go east on the Old Glenn Highway for 2.5 miles, take a left at Clark-Wolverine Road. Proceed one-half mile to a T intersection, then take a right on Huntley Road and follow it to the end, turning right at the Lazy Mountain Recreation Area and trailhead. Description: The Lazy Mountain Trail is a steep hiking trail traversing the west slope of Lazy Mountain, climbing 3,000 feet in less than 2.5 miles. The first half of the trail travels through wooded areas of cottonwood, spruce, birch, aspen and tall grasses. At about the 1,500-foot elevation mark the trail crosses into alpine tundra and offers good views of the Knik and Matanuska rivers and Cook Inlet. The trail is challenging and tends to be muddy and slippery after a rain. Caution is advised. The round-trip hike takes about four hours to complete by the average hiker. The more adventurous can continue on a primitive route along a ridge to Matanuska Peak (elevation 6,199 feet) about four miles to the southeast. Matanuska Peak is also reached from the Matanuska Peak Trail off the east end of Smith Road.

Alaska Raft Rentals 745-2447 • akraftrentals.com After 30-plus years of business, Ed and Diane Clawson are well-prepared to deal with the intricacies of river rafting. The couple rent inflatable rafts for $155 per day ($85 per day for seven days, $75 per day for 10 days) and offer free delivery anywhere in Southcentral Alaska. The rafts are delivered replete with oars, life vests, rowing frames, cargo nets and patch kits.

Lifetime Adventures 746-4644 • lifetimeadventures.net Owners Barbara and Danny McDonough offer combinations of biking and kayaking trips on and around Eklutna Lake. They also offer raft trips on Eagle River. Kayaks can be rented for $65 per day, and bikes can be rented for $30. Page 14

Matanuska River Park Trail System Distance: 1.6 miles Ease: Easy to moderate Trailhead features: Large parking area, restrooms, picnic tables Nearest town: Palmer Getting there: From downtown Palmer, travel east on the Old Glenn Highway. About a mile out of town, turn left to the park’s entrance. Description: The park has about 1.6 miles of trails that form a loop from the parking areas to the river and back. The trails connect the campground, day-use area and athletic fields to the riverside. Most of the trail network traverses gentle terrain through an old-growth forest of cottonwood, birch and spruce. The park itself sits along an old river bottom bench with small ponds and streams that provide habitat for many small animals and water birds. The trails also provide access to the river, where one can wander along the gravel bars and enjoy views of the Matanuska River valley and the Chugach Mountain range to the east. Talkeetna Trails Distance: River Trail, 1.5 miles; Ridge Trail, 4.5 miles; Old Lake Road Trail, 1.25 miles; Old RCA Trail, 2 miles. Ease: Easy to moderate Trailhead features: Small parking area and parking on roadside Nearest town: Talkeetna Getting there: To Old Lake Road Trailhead, go east from Mile 12.1 of the Talkeetna Spur Road on Comsat Road for .7 miles, then turn left (north) on Christiansen Lake Road. Follow the road to the end, where there is a

large turn-around and parking area. To Ridge Trail and Old RCA Trail, go east on Comsat Road from Mile 12.1 of the Talkeetna Spur Road until the end of the road (about 3 miles) where there is a large turn-around and parking area. Description: The Talkeetna Trails are yearround, multi-use trails that form a loop between the town of Talkeetna, the Talkeetna River and the rolling hills that lie east of town. Some of the trails were originally built for cross-country skiing, while others were built for access to logging areas or are old abandoned roads. The trails connect users to downtown Talkeetna along Beaver Lake Road, and to Larson Lake Trail, which heads east from the Ridge Trail. For more information, call the Mat-Su Borough Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division at 745-9690 or visit matsugov.us. Information for this article was provided by the Mat-Su Borough Community Development Department in Palmer. Tips for the trails • Carry water and light snacks • Dress in layers • Wear sturdy boots or shoes with good traction • Keep animals leashed • Take a cell phone in case of emergency • Give non-motorized users right of way • Make noise to prevent surprising animals such as bears and moose • Avoid getting between a cow moose and her calf • Carry bear spray • Do not feed wildlife • Do not leave trash on the trails

Day Trips FishTALE River Guides 746-2119 • fish4salmon.com Owner Andy Couch runs his fishing guide business on the Little Susitna River and its tributaries, and the Deshka River. He operates from mid-May to mid-September and helps his clients catch all five species of salmon, depending on the season. He offers six-hour day trips for $130 per person, and eight-hour day trips for $170 per person. He also offers multi-day lodge-based trips. Tippecanoe (canoe, kayak rentals) 495-6688 With more than 50 kayaks and canoes available for rent, it is unlikely a customer will come away empty-handed. Tippecanoe is located in the South Rolly Campground in Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area. Hatcher Pass Lodge 745-1200 • hatcherpasslodge.com Hatcher Pass Lodge is located about 22 miles from Palmer in the Talkeetna Mountains. The lodge itself is a coal-heated Aframe restaurant. The nine cabins surrounding the lodge are available for rent for $95 to $115 per night. In addition to touring Independence Gold Mine, guests are welcome to use the sauna built over a nearby creek. Matanuska Glacier Of all of Alaska’s glaciers, Matanuska Glacier at Mile 102, Glenn Highway is one of the most accessible. Visitors can see the glacier from the highway, or pay $15 to park in front of it and touch it. www.frontiersman.com


Schedule of summer events

downtown Palmer. • Memorial Day at Veterans Wall of Honor, May 27, Monday, commencing at 11 a.m. The wall is located at Mile 33.5, Parks Hwy., near the Mat-Su Visitor Center. • Colony Days June 7-9 — This three-day festival takes place in Palmer, also known as “Alaska’s Best Kept Secret.â€? The event commemorates the arrival of the first “colonistsâ€? sent to the Valley in 1935 by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt to develop agriculture in the Alaska Territory. The festival consists of a parade on Saturday, a colony family reception, arts and crafts fair, children’s games and contests, horse-drawn wagon rides, 5K and 10K races, shopping cart races, nurseryman’s market and more. For more information, contact 745-2880. • Bill Mitchell Fun Run, June 10, Saturday, beginning 11 a.m. in downtown Palmer. A family-oriented event. Bib pickup at 9:30 a.m. There will be 5K and 1K races for people 13 years old and under. Flat course, out and back on pavement and bike trails. Call 745-2880. • Palmer Pride Picnic, July 28 — The downtown Palmer business community host this annual event. Includes locally made Palmer Pride hot dogs with all the trimmings, music, awards and lots of fun! For more information, contact 745-3330 or 745-2880. • Ag Appreciation Day, Aug. 5 — This event celebrates the Mat-Su’s agriculture and farming community and is held at the University of Alaska’s Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station, located at Mile 0.5 Trunk Road. The event features a free barbecue, wagon rides, a petting zoo, a display of antique farm equipment, a plowing demonstration, www.frontiersman.com

games, music and lots of fun for the entire family. For more information, contact 746-9450. • Alaska State Fair, Aug. 22-Sept. 2 — This year’s fair theme, “Fun Matters,â€? pretty well sums up the annual Alaska State Fair, in Palmer. Fair displays and competitions run the gamut from archery to racing pigs, and animal husbandry to locally made honey. The fair features a wide variety of rides, like the Ferris wheel, as well as a host of vendors and food booths. Several nationally known performers, as well as local artists, provide music, dancing and other entertainment. The event is capped off each year with the judging of the giant cabbages. The annual Alaska State Fair Parade is Aug. 26 in downtown Palmer. For more information, contact 745-4827.

SUTTON • Sutton Old Timer’s Picnic, July — Just 13 miles north of Palmer is Sutton an old coalmining area that supplied Anchorage with fuel until the end of World War II. Each year, Sutton residents gather for the Old Timer’s Picnic, a potluck honoring the coal miners. • Summer Music Festival, TBA — Dates for the annual Sutton Summer Music Festival were not available as this guide went to press, but the event features some of Alaska’s finest fiddlers, bluegrass and other musicians. • Annual Classic Car Show, TBA — Dates for Sutton’s Classic Car Show were not available as this guide went to press, but there are a number of avid classic car enthusiasts in Mat-Su and almost all of them make it to Sutton to show off that 1934 Chevy pickup truck.

on the second Saturday of each month year-round in Talkeetna. • Cliff Hudson Memorial Fly-In, May 18 — Annual two day event honoring the memory and aviation legacy of Cliff Hudson and the Hudson Aviation family. Activities include a poker run, aircraft performance demonstrations, flyover, silent auction, pancake feed, Young Eagles Flights and much more. Click title above for more details and link to event webpage. • Miner’s Day Softball Tournament, May 25 — This Memorial Weekend softball tournament is all that’s left of the past Miner’s Day Festival. Softball field is located on C Street, south of the Roadhouse. • May (TBA), Miner’s Day

Continued on Page 17

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TALKEETNA • Second Saturday — Celebrate Second Saturday

Celebration — The specific date for this event was not announced by press time. Nonetheless, the residents of this town where three rivers converge (the Susitna, Kashwitna and Chulitna rivers) get together every year to celebrate the town’s mining history. Events include a parade, prospectors’ ball, softball tournament, entertainment, games, arts and crafts, and food. • July 7-9, Talkeetna Moose Drop Festival — Weekends throughout the summer will feature a series of celebrations. No, residents do not drop moose from great heights — the “droppingsâ€? refers to those oval brown pellets moose leave behind. For more information, contact 733-2487, or visit talkeetnanews.com.

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Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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240 N. Boundary 376-1225 XNLV79604

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Page 15


Iditarod legends are our neighbors For folks visiting our part of the world, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race may seem like something feathered from the pages of a classic Jack London novel. But for us it’s just part of life. In March every year the world turns its eyes north to focus on this race that pairs humans and dogs in a more than 1,150mile test of endurance and skill. For the other 11 months of the year, folks like 2012 champ Dallas Seavey, four-time champ Martin Buser and the mushing Redington family are just some of our neighbors. We see them in the grocery store, at the gas station and, if you know where to look, you can catch perennial favorite DeeDee Jonrowe rounding the bases for a local softball team. This year was the 41st running of the Last Great Race on Earth. Its official start is in Willow and teams of canine and human athletes compete to be first to pass beneath the burled arch in Nome, which marks the finish line. The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the Interior mining camps at Ophir, Ruby and beyond to the west coast communities of Unalakleet, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and Nome. Sled dog teams delivered mail and supplies along the trail and packed out gold. Knik and Wasilla residents Joe Redington Sr. and Dorothy Page are considered co-founders of the Iditarod. Redington’s sons and grandsons continue to raise and race sled dogs in the Knik area.

ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Sheryl Ketchum and her daughter, Kirsten, take a ride with Raymie Redington at Iditarod Trail Headquarters in Wasilla.

Riding the rails in the Valley The Alaska Railroad has been part of the transportation landscape in the Mat-Su for nearly 100 years. Today, the railroad serves as everything from a freight hauler to a high-end, luxury tour operator to a flagstop service

that provides vital transportation access for many Valley residents who live off the road system. Here are some of your options for riding the rails in Alaska. Luxury: Since 2005, the railroad has operated glass-

Want to know the REAL Mat-Su Valley?

Mat-Su VOLU ME 65,

We publish every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Pick up a copy and see what Valley life is all about!

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domed, double-decker GoldStar trains in the state. In the Valley, they ferry tourists to Denali and some of Alaska’s most beautiful scenery. On the cheap: In addition to the cheaper, non-GoldStar trains, the railroad offers discounts for folks willing to ride in the off-season. For example, an $89 Anchorage to Talkeetna ticket in the summer costs just $70 in the spring and fall. Flagstop: In the northern part of the Valley, along the 60 miles between the city of Talkeetna and the area known as Hurricane, Bush residents live in remote and isolated cabins completely off the road system. Some depend on the Alaska Railroad for transportation, hauling their groceries, building materials

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

and other small freight. On the Talkeetna-Hurricane Turn, anyone can stop the train and disembark anywhere along the route or hop aboard by flagging down the train. It’s one of the last flagstop trains in the nation and a unique Alaska experience. Off the rails: Though the ride is hard to top, the Alaska Railroad isn’t just a train trip. The railroad also offers excursions and day trips. For example, the $169 Flagstop Rail and Sustina River Float day trip includes a trip down a glacially fed river and tons of wildlife. Do your homework: For fares, reservations, schedules and to read descriptions of the various tours, head to alaskarailroad.com or call (800) 544-0552. www.frontiersman.com


Schedule of summer events Continued from Page 15 WASILLA

For more information, all call the Chamber office at 376-1299, or visit wasillaevents.com.

• 5th annual Last Ball of the Season Golf Tournament — Settlers Bay Golf Course — mid-September each year • Memorial Day, May 29 — Military veterans and their families gather at the Veterans’ Wall of Honor at the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau to commemorate and honor Americans who have served their nation in the military. The gathering features a few guest speakers, a jet fly-over courtesy of the Alaskan Air Command, and other activities. • 3rd annual Machetanz Art Festival, June 1 — Mat-Su College, 8295 E. College Dr., Palmer. The festival includes art workshops and costs range from $25 to $50. For more information, visit matsu.alaska.edu/maf. • Curtis C. Menard Run, June 3, check in at 9 a.m., race begins at 10, at the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center. For more information, call 746-2841 or visit menardrun.com. • ‘Why Not Tri Wasilla Triathlon,’ June 15 — at the Wasilla Pool, 701 E. Bogard Road in Wasilla. Event

includes a 400-meter swim, 9.25-mile bike ride and 3-mile run. Registration is limited to 500 racers. The event begins at 9 a.m., June 15 at Wasilla High School. This year, the race also includes a competition for kids aged 6 to 12, Why Not Tri Kids. That event begins at 2 p.m. at the Wasilla pool and is limited to 175 racers. For more information, contact Heather Hogge at wasillatrisponsor@gmail.com or 727-3066, or visit whynottriwasilla.net. • Mat-Su 2013 Relay For Life, June 14-15 — Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American Cancer Society at this year’s Relay for Life event on the Wasilla High School track. For more information, visit matsurelay. org. • Fourth of July Parade, July 4 — annually in downtown Wasilla. • Great Alaska Machinery Show, Aug. 19-20 — The Alaska Museum of Transportation and Industry, located near the Wasilla City Airport, annually shows off its treasures. The show features operating steam, gasoline and diesel engines, a tractor show and hay rides. The show also features the Alaska Live Steamers train ride, and a chili and corn bread feed at the Whistle Stop Caboose. For more information, contact 376-1211. WILLOW

Alaska history

Continued from Page 11 over the next 100 years. Those Alaskans had no concept of how the technology of air would completely alter life on the ground. Today Alaskans fly 30 times more per capita than other U.S. citizens, partially because about 80 percent of Alaska is not accessible by road. Flying is part of life in the Mat-Su Borough, which has the highest concentration of pilots, planes and airports in the U.S. On the 100th anniversary of that historic 1913 flight, the Anchorage Museum will display “Arctic Flight: A Century of Alaska Aviation� through Aug. 11. The exhibit is co-curated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and features objects from the Smithsonian and several Alaska museums, including the Alaska Aviation Museum and Pioneer Air Museum. Tickets are included with general admission: $12 adult, $9 student/senior/military, $7 child, free age 2 and younger. Learn more and buy tickets at anchoragemuseum.org.

• July 4 — The small town on the Parks Highway beyond Big Lake and Houston is very big on community spirit. Each July 4, the community gathers for the annual parade from the Willow Trading Post to the Willow Community Center, complete with costumes. Willow also boasts one of the first good views of Mount McKinley. For more information, contact 495-6633. • Willow Trading Post Annual Potato Festival, Sept. 28 — On the last Saturday of September each year, the hardy residents of this community gather at the Willow Trading Post (look for signs along the Parks Highway), which hosts an annual competition for the largest potato sculpture using whole potatoes, the largest potato, smallest potato and numerous other “spudâ€? categories. The event features a free potato buffet, music is provided and dancing is, of course, the “mashed potato.â€?

Friendly Alaskan hospitality and a quiet,

good night’s rest for our guests.

Denali Centennial Climb 2013

This spring, the Denali Centennial Climb began its journey to commemorate the first successful summit of North America’s tallest mountain, Mount McKinley. Also known by its Alaska Native name, Denali. The team includes descendants of the 1913 team. Hudson Stuck and Harry Karstens led the original team, which included Robert Tatum and three Alaska Native youths, Walter Harper, 21, John Fred, 16, and Esaias George, 14. Harper owns a place in history as the first to reach Denali’s summit. www.frontiersman.com

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Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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McCarthy — Sister to Kennecott, and the end of the road

Traveling 60 miles down a dirt road can be tricky. Formerly a small-gauge railroad, it could “surprise� its users with a remnant of its past, such as railroad spikes and splintered ties rising through the dusty, beaten path. In 1900, prospectors Jack Smith and Clarence Warner reportedly looked up and noticed a large green spot on the mountain near Kennicott Glacier and wondered what it could be. It is said to have been the discovery of the richest deposit of copper ore ever found. In 1906 Kennecott Mines Company was formed, later becoming Kennecott Copper Corporation and marking the birth of the once-flourishing town. Located in the 12-million acre WrangellSt. Elias National Park and Preserve, the historical landmarks of McCarthy and Kennecott mines are well worth the trip. In June 1998 the National Park Service acquired many of the significant buildings and lands in Kennecott and began restoration of the broken-down historical buildings, bringing back to life the impressive beauty of this once rich community. McCarthy and Kennecott are not accessible by car. Visitors must park at the end of the road where it meets the Kennicott River. A pedestrian-only bridge, built in 1997 to replace the former tram, crosses the river providing the only summer access. Cars and trucks are brought across the river in the winter when the river is frozen. In the summer, tourists can also catch flights to the looming glacier. For more information about the McCarthy/ Kennecott area, visit alaskavisitorsinformation.com/mccarthy-kennicott/ index.htm.

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ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Gold panning in the Hatcher Pass area is popular among locals and visitors.

www.frontiersman.com


Get your boat on at Lake Louise Lake Louise is known for its fine lake trout fishing and abundant photo opportunities. Lake Louise Road is located at Mile 160 of the Glenn Highway. The road will take you north on 17 miles of statemaintained gravel. Lake Louise was an R&R stop for the U.S. military during the construction of the Glenn Highway during World War II, but as it was originally only accessible by floatplane, the army decided to build the access road. Today, Lake Louise is still the destination of choice for a little R&R, be it rest and relaxation or recreation and outdoor fun. Accommodations range from luxurious to “roughing it.� There are several lodges to stay at, and a state campground offers camping sites (15-night limit), a picnic shelter, handicap-accessible restrooms, fresh water and a boat launch. There is a daily parking fee for picnicking and a camping fee for overnight stays. Many lodges offer RV hook-ups as well. Lake Louise also boasts a general store, small gas station and rental movie business and boat storage facility. Some lodges also operate liquor stores on site. Known for its world-class fishing opportunities, the lake is home to lake trout, whitefish, burbot and Arctic grayling. Bear in mind that trout average up to 12 pounds at Lake Louise, so bring a big net. The Nelchina caribou herd migrates

ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

An angler prepares to release a small rainbow trout back into Cottonwood Creek. through the area each spring and fall, and the lake is also a nesting site for cormorants and about 800 pairs of trumpeter swans — a fourth of the continent’s popu-

Playing on or in the water in Alaska is not the same as enjoying boating, fishing or canoeing in warmer climates. In Alaska, cold water contributes to many drowning deaths each year. The human body is designed to react when it comes in contact with cold water. Those involuntary reactions including inhaling when cold water touches the skin. This can fill the lungs with water and lead to drowning. Heart attack and hypothermia also are factors in Alaska’s high rate of drowning deaths. Wear a life jacket. Stay seated. If your buddy falls in, do not go in after them. Use a paddle or throw a life preserve to them to increase the chances that both parties survive. Kids Don’t Float racks at many local lakes provide life preserves for children. Boats and canoes are rented with flotation devices, but it’s up to the adults in the party to make sure everyone wears their protective gear and follows safe boating practices.

lation of those swans nests in the Copper River region. Willow ptarmigan, rock ptarmigan, white-tailed ptarmigan, spruce grouse and a wide variety of ducks can be found in the area. Larger animals — such as wolves, black and brown bears, foxes, moose and even the elusive wolverine — can be spotted occasionally as well. The state of Alaska maintains a gravel airstrip and floatplane site at the south end of the lake, which tends to be rather busy in summer, especially on weekends, as the lake is a popular weekend getaway for Anchorage and Valley residents. There are also several private strips.

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Seward, Alaska

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

1-888-378-2525 Page 19


Houston a haven for summer recreation The city of Houston was established by the Alaska Railroad in 1917, the same year as Wasilla. Situated along the Parks Highway, Houston has its attractions, such as the Little Susitna River, a plethora of fireworks stands and Miller’s Market, where tourists treat themselves to soft-serve ice-cream. During the trans-Alaska pipeline construction boom, the town’s name caused confusion among workers from other, smaller oil-producing states. The confusion prompted locals to display bumper stickers that read, “No, Damn it! Houston, Alaska.� Today, visitors to Houston are greeted by a wood relief welcome sign carved by Valley sign artist Mike McVay. The sign depicts a salmon jumping, a bear, spruce trees, two snowcovered mountain peaks and a rising sun above — as if to say: “Houston has a bright future,

but we’d like to keep the trees, fish and critters intact, thank you.� The Little Susitna River passes through Houston and boasts some of the best salmon fishing in Southcentral Alaska. Both the city of Houston and state of Alaska have campgrounds near the town’s center. A great summer fishing trip is to float a raft or canoe down the Little Su River from the campground near Houston City Hall to Burma Landing. The city campground is known for being a quiet spot along the Little Su. That’s primarily because it is upriver from the Parks Highway, where salmon fishing is not allowed. The babbling brook runs past the campground, but the throngs of fisherman trampling the banks are conspicuously — and thankfully if you’re a tent camper — absent. Within easy reach of this quiet campground you can hike the ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Kepler Park Campground

Team 11 heads out from the Little-Su starting point of the Houston Founders Day third annual Little-Su Float Classic.

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Talkeetna Mountains in Hatcher Pass State Recreation Area, drive to Big Lake for power

boating or explore the canoe trails of Nancy Lake State Recreation Area in Willow.

Did you know? Houston offers public restrooms, overnight parking and hiking trails at the Hatcher Pass trailhead off Zero Lake Road at Mile 59, Parks Highway.

HUMDINGER’S

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Hiking, fishing hooks many on Willow can be seen along with old and new gold mining activity. In late summer, this side of the pass is frequented by those harvesting Alaska’s low bush blueberries amid the scenery of the pass. Just west of Willow are the Susitna River, Willow Creek and Willow Creek State Recreation Area, with campgrounds and picnic areas. This area is also a prime spot for king salmon, silver salmon and rainbow trout fishing. Just east of Willow is Hatcher Pass. Brimming with breathtaking views, Hatcher Pass has long been a favorite of hikers, campers and those who come to see the never-ending vistas. Independence Mine provides a glimpse to the past when the area was heavily mined. Many well-known Iditarod mushers make their home in Willow, with more entering the race every year. The reliable amount of snow in the area makes it an ideal place to raise and train sled dogs. Willow is also the Iditarod restart location to mark the official start to “The Last Great Race.�

Census — up from 59,322 — making the Mat-Su the fastest-growing region of the state and one of the fastest growing regions in the whole country.

Palmer Golf Course Voted Best in the Valley! An 18-hole Championship Course with unparalleled views of Knik Glacier and Pioneer Peak t%SJWJOH3BOHFt-FTTPOTt3FOUBMTt1SP4IPQt

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Hermon Bros. Field at Alaska State Fairgrounds just south of Palmer on the Glenn Hwy. Turn into the State Fair main parking lot and go to the far end. Enjoy Alaska’s awesome scenery while you and your family watch the game! XNLV79578

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MAT-SU MINERS ALASKA BASEBALL 9-Jun 12-Jun 13-Jun 15-Jun 17-Jun 18-Jun 22-Jun 25-Jun 27-Jun 2-Jul 3-Jul 4-Jul 5-Jul 7-Jul 8-Jul

Mat-Su 2010 Census population: 89,995. The population increased by 50 percent from the 2000 U.S.

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ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Noah Asay, left, Ethan Anderson, center, and August Asay paddle their way across Kelly Lake in Willow.

For more info call 745-6401 or www.matsuminers.org

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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Located from Miles 66-67 of the Parks Highway is the community of Willow, a gold mining town dating back to the early 1900s that was once slated to be the state capital until Alaska voters rejected the price tag of moving the capital from Juneau. The great attraction to the Willow area is recreation. Many flightseeing and fishing services operate from Willow, offering tours to see Denali or to some otherwise inaccessible fishing and camping or hunting spots. The Willow Community Center, open daily, offers visitors parking, showers, a boat launch area, ball field and a covered picnic pavilion. Campgrounds on either side of Willow Creek allow tent or RV camping, and a limited number of motel rooms are available for those less adventurous souls. Willow-Hatcher Pass Road, just north of town and south of Willow Creek, allows visitors to travel 20-plus miles (half of it unpaved) up into the north side of Hatcher Pass, where beaver dams and lodges

Page 21


DISCOVER DOWNTOWN PALMER! Palmer is one of the few Alaska towns with a beautiful downtown district, ďŹ lled with a rich history, and surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery. Downtown has ample parking space and is easy to explore on foot with wide sidewalks lining the streets. You will ďŹ nd an evergrowing and interesting mix of shops oering unique Alaskan made arts and crafts, antiques, Alaskan delicacies, quilts, and so much more. Palmer’s Visitor Center and Museum of History & Arts are also located downtown.

After exploring downtown, relax and refuel at one of the several cafes and restaurants lining the downtown streets. Some of them oer sidewalk or patio seating to enjoy the surrounding mountain vistas. Every Friday, from May through September, Palmer’s weekly market, Friday Fling, oers locally grown produce, Alaskan arts and crafts as well as live entertainment. The market is located on the green across from the visitors center.

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Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

Page 23


Palmer home to Alaska State Fair

Nestled between the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains, and alongside the Matanuska River, the city of Palmer is the home of those huge Alaska cabbages that show up in magazines and on postcards. Palmer is located in the eastern reaches of the Mat-Su Valley and enjoys a close proximity to the many places that have made the Valley a Mecca for recreational enthusiasts of all kinds. The city offers a historic downtown area complete with many old structures, and several parks and other public recreation areas, including tennis courts, baseball fields and an indoor swimming pool. The log-cabin visitor’s center, located in downtown Palmer, is a good place to start for all activities both within the city and without. The Palmer Public Library

and Palmer Visitor Center are right across the street from each other. Take photos near the old train or standing in front of Palmer’s water tower with mountains in the background. If shopping is the vacation ideal, Friday Flings offers just that, plus a fresh-air venue to purchase those famous Valleygrown vegetables and flowers as they become available sometime in late July, as well as Alaskan-crafted jewelry, pottery and handmade soaps. The weekly event kicks off May 11, and will be held in the pavilion area directly across from the Palmer Visitors Center from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., every Friday through Aug. 17.

Colony Days Held June 7-9, the Colony Days festival pays tribute

to the history of Palmer. Hosted by the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce, the event is rich in history and fun. The small town feel to Palmer lends a very personal feeling to the event. There is a Saturday parade, sidewalk art for children, the Bill Mitchell 5K Fun Run/Walk for children and adults, and events such as a quilt walkabout, a smoked salmon contest, craft landscape and open-air markets. Hayrides whisk people around town, while music is provided by the Air Force Band stationed at the Palmer Depot lawn.

Alaska State Fair Another can’t-miss event in the Palmer area is the Alaska State Fair, Aug. 22 through Sept. 2. There is more to the fair than live concerts, hypnotists and fireworks displays.

The Butte The Butte is an unincorporated community to the south of Palmer. Like Palmer, it has its roots in farming and was first planted by the Bodenburg family in 1917. To this day, the area is often called the Bodenburg Butte. The Butte is a gateway not only to the Knik River and Pioneer Peak beyond it, but also Jim Creek and Jim Lake, popular rural recreation and fishing areas.

Hiking Close to Palmer are several popular hiking trails, such as Lazy Mountain, Matanuska Peak, Crevasse Moraine, Bonnie Lake and Finger Lake. The Kepler-Bradley Lakes State Recreation Area south of downtown Palmer along the Glenn Highway also provides a popular site for hiking, fishing and boating. Trails run along the glacier-fed Matanuska River southeast of the city as well. One of the most popular activities in the Butte area is climbing the rise for which the area is named. Hiking up the Butte is relatively quick, but strenuous, and provides a 180-degree scenic view of mountains, glaciers, farmland, rivers and cities within the Mat-Su.

Large and in charge • Another tourist attraction in Palmer is the Musk Ox Farm located to the north of the city. This farm is home to 200 musk oxen that provide qiviut, a soft underwool that is woven into garments by local Native craftsmen. • The Reindeer Farm, an agricultural company raising domesticated caribou, also can be found in the Butte, and tours of the grounds are held on a regular basis.

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Page 24

Glenn Hwy.

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Great Valley drives

For a lot of locals, Alaska’s scenic byways serve a utilitarian function. Valleyites use the Parks and Glenn highways to get to work or get their shopping done. But the federal government has noticed something the locals, even those bleary-eyed commuters, have long realized — there are some spectacular views to take in along those highways. The Valley is the only Alaska community to get two nods on the list of byways. Here’s a rundown of those two, plus one drive that is a local favorite.

The Glenn Highway

Even that portion in Anchorage with streetlights and saloons is listed as a byway up to about Chickaloon. While the Anchorage end of things might not be the most picturesque, federal officials made a good choice in the Glenn. Once the highway is free of Anchorage’s stoplights, the views of the Palmer Hay Flats, Bodenburg Butte and the Knik Arm are hard to beat. Here are some of the better spots to stop: • The Palmer Hay Flats Game Refuge: Volunteers have long been working to build a science center there. Until then, there are trails to explore, at least one lake to visit and broad vistas of the hay flats and Cook Inlet beyond. For trail maps and information on efforts to

preserve the area, visit palmerhayflats.org. • Knik River Public Use Area: Accessible from the Old Glenn Highway rather than the new Glenn, just drive down to the water next to the Knik River Bridge and you’re there. There are also parking lots on some of the Butte’s side streets. The area has long been a popular destination for campers and ATV users. • Bodenburg Butte: Also accessible from the Old Glenn, the Butte is a quick nature hike with breathtaking views from the top and lots of nature to take in. The Butte is a storied landmark for locals. • The Matanuska River: Once the highway passes through Palmer, it begins to more or less follow the path of the Matanuska River. The highway has a handful of pullouts with interpretive signs offering facts about the river. Some are choked with glacial silt blown in off the riverbanks below. At least one bears the local nickname “the blowhole.â€? Come on a windy day to find out why. • Sutton/Chickaloon: The area was once the scene of coal mining in the Valley. Some hope it might be again. But for now, mining is a thing found in museums, most notably at Mile 61.6 of the highway with the Alpine Historic Park, which seeks to preserve the history of the area, including its coal mining. Also in Sutton/

Chickaloon there are lodges and cafÊs and campgrounds, as well as river rafting and horseback riding. • The Matanuska Glacier: You can drive right up to the thing and hike around on it. There’s camping nearby. It’s really hard to find something bad to say about the glacier.

The Parks Highway Valleyites might be shocked to learn the highway, with views that tend to be of parking lots and grocery stores, has made the list. But the section the feds took notice of is likely the same one most everyone who’s driven it has: the bit between Trapper Creek and Fairbanks. Here are some things to keep an eye out for: • Talkeetna. • South Denali Wayside: It’s hard to miss, with its RV-clogged parking lot and

big boardwalks and interpretive signs. The views of the mountain, though, make it a must-stop. • Broad Pass: There’s a pullout here and wide vistas of the mountainous terrain that surrounds you. • Glitter Gulch: The entrance to Denali National Park is filled with sandwich shops and ice cream stores, rafting guides and hotels. Some might call it a tourist trap. We call it a tidy place for a bathroom break and a quick bite to eat. • Denali National Park: Driving in the park is strictly regulated, so don’t expect to be able to just tool around in there. To fully use that park road you need to hop on a bus. • Hurricane Gulch: Mile 174 of the highway, just past the park, contains the stunning bridge over Hurricane Gulch. Continued on Page 26

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Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

gifts

museum Page 25


Great Valley drives May 24 through August 30 &7&3:'3*%":t Local Arts & Crafts Alaska Grown Produce & Plants Friday Farmers Market continues in September (weather permitting)

Live Music & Entertainment Downtown across from Palmer Visitors Center Call 355-9415 for more information www.palmerchamber.org/events

Continued from Page 25 There aren’t a lot of places to stop and take pictures, but the views are breathtaking. • A few notes: The scenic portion of the highway is an hour and a half drive from Wasilla, so plan accordingly. Try not to be disappointed if you can’t get a glimpse of Denali. Weather obscures it for a good portion of the year.

The Fishhooks Any list of scenic drives in the Valley isn’t really complete without at least a mention of the Fishhook system. It’s the path to Hatcher Pass, one of the true natural gems of the Valley. • How to do it: Most locals agree that the best way to drive through Hatcher Pass in the summer is to take Willow Fishhook Road up to the pass and go back down on Palmer Fishhook Road. • What you’ll see: The drive

takes you through rough mountain terrain, along streams and past shear rock walls. It’s not uncommon to see moose, marmots and foxes. • The destination: After a series of switchbacks and pullouts you end up at the top of the pass, with rugged peaks at your back and the broadest possible view of the Valley at your feet. • Independence Mine State Historical Park: Located at the top of the pass, the mine produced millions of dollars in gold during the 1930s and 1940s. At its peak, it employed 204 men. Many of the mine’s buildings have been restored, but the piles of rubble with mining equipment visible inside have their charm as well. Mining still goes on up there and there’s private property abutting the park, so be mindful of the signs when wandering the grounds.

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See a glacier up close

Among its other natural wonders, the Valley is home to two of the most visited glaciers in the state. What keeps visitors coming back? One word — accessibility. While one might need a plane to get to Ruth Glacier in Denali National Park or to Colony Glacier in Chugach State Park, all it takes to get to the Matanuska and Knik glaciers is a car, ATV or boat.

Knik Glacier

• Location: at the head of the Knik River • How do you reach it: By boat or by ATV. Tour operators will gladly take you there and let you watch ice calve into the frigid river. • Fun fact: Knik Glacier was used as the setting of a Klingon ice-planet prison in “Star Trek VI.â€?

Matanuska Glacier

• Location: Mile 102, Glenn Highway • How do you reach it: In your car. There’s plenty of parking and also nearby camping. • What do you do there: The glacier is a popular hiking destination and the tour is not a demanding one. You can hire a guide or go solo. Be prepared to get a little wet, though. • Fun fact: Ice worms aren’t actually a myth; they feed on algae and pollen that thrive in glacial conditions. There are also ice fleas — wingless, springtail bugs that live in glacial snow.

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The Matanuska glacier, near mile 100 of the Glenn Highway, provides an opportunity to get close to a glacier.

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ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Changing colors make for a colorful scenic photo as the summer season transitions into fall in the Talkeetna Mountain Range just outside Palmer near Buffalo Mine Road.

Go north for adventure and history Less than an hour’s drive north of Palmer on the Glenn Highway you’ll find the village of Chickaloon and the small town of Sutton. Like many small towns in the Mat-Su Borough, the riches found in Sutton are no longer in its mineral resources, but its history. To reach Sutton, you must follow a curving and winding highway for about 11 miles into the hills of the Chugach and Talkeetna mountain ranges. Amidst the peak and valleys, you can see how the terrain would lend itself to mining. Sutton was founded around 1918 as a station on the Matanuska branch of the Alaska Railroad, but Ahtna and Dena’ina

Spectacular Mountain views surround you as you hand-feed, take pictures, and pet the reindeer. Visit our elk, moose, and bison. A Lifetime Experience! Daily Tours 10-6 May 1 to mid-September

Page 28

Fee Charged Off hours by appt.

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Athabascan Natives have occupied the area for centuries. For a time during the Russian fur trading era, the route through what is now Sutton was used to transport furs along the Matanuska River to Copper Fort in the east. The railroad used to run along what is now the Glenn Highway, up through Sutton to the Chickaloon coal mine farther north. The Sutton Coal Washery, a million-dollar operation built by the U.S. Navy, operated from 1920 to 1922, and visitors can see the concrete remains of the washery at the Alpine Historical Park, an outdoor museum. You can visit the Alpine Historical Park at Mile 61.5 of the Glenn Highway (745-7000), open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There is no admission fee. The park offers a nice expanse of lawns and gardens with a playground, as well as benches and picnic tables. The Park highlights three main stages of local history: the Athabascan Native culture (Ahtna and Den’aina); the coal “boom and bust” era of the late teens and early 1920s, including relics and historic buildings from the coal washery; and the construction of the Glenn Highway. Picnic or go boating or fishing at Coyote Lake or Slipper Lake. The Coyote Lake Recreation Area offers day-use picnic areas, a pavilion and several hiking trails. Both lakes are stocked with rainbow trout by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Specimens of fossilized wood, leaves, stems and seeds, as well as rocks can be collected from nearby Stump Dump, Wishbone Continued on Page 29

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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Go north Continued from Page 28 Hill and Coyote Lake. Chickaloonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residents mine another resource: adventure. The area is a favorite spot for river rafters, and local companies offer tours on both the Matanuska and Chickaloon rivers, as well as horseback

riding, hiking and gold panning trips into the surrounding Talkeetna Mountains. The Chickaloon River offers mostly Class II and Class III rafting, which is suitable for most family members over age 12.

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Service Times

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Sunday Worship 9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

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Youth & Children Ministries Call for times

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Breanna McGuire, left, and Deanna Irwin-Gee enjoy a ride along one of the many Mat-Su Borough trails.

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Page 29


KID’S STUFF AT A GLANCE

A-Moose-Ment Park: 420 W. Fern Ave., behind the Moose Lodge just west of Alaska Street. The park offers a playground, benches and a picnic pavilion. Bouncing Bears: On Bogard Road between Crusey Street and Seward-Meridian Parkway, 2951 E. Bogard Road. It’s an indoor inflatable playground, offering 2,500 square feet of fun. Parents can’t leave their kids here alone. Admission buys two hours of jumping and is on a sliding scale from $5 for very young kids up to $15 for teens over 15. Golfing: Palmer and Wasilla offer a variety of golf courses to practice your swing or play a few holes. Two of them, Sleepy Hollow in Wasilla and Fishhook Glenn in Palmer, offer excellent nine-hole courses for beginning golfers. Palmer has a very forgiving municipal court near the airport and Settler’s Bay on Knik-Goose Bay Road is a full course with all the amenities. Iditapark Park aka Wonderland Park: Located a block north of the Parks Highway with Nelson Road on its northern Continued on Page 31

ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Spencer Crane, 7, left, and Garrett Pierce, 7, inspect their net for minnows on a warm afternoon at Knik Lake.

FAST FACTS that all of the contiguous states combined — about 33,900 miles.

Mat-Su • 2010 Census population: 89,995. The population increased by 50 percent from the 2000 U.S. Census — up from 59,322 — making the Mat-Su the fastest-growing region of the state and one of the fastest growing regions in the whole country. During the past decade, the population of Knik increased by more than 111 percent. • Local government: The MatanuskaSusitna Borough was incorporated in 1964. It includes the incorporated cities of Houston, Palmer and Wasilla, along with several other unincorporated communities. • Earthquakes: The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer detects about 100 quakes a week throughout the state, but most temblors are small. There is always potential to have a devastating earthquake, such as the one that shook Alaska in 1964, so preparedness is essential. • Schools: The Mat-Su Borough School Page 30

• Alaska has six geographical regions: the Arctic, the Panhandle (or Southeast), Southcentral, Southwestern, Western and Interior Alaska.

District is home to 45 schools, ranging in enrollments from 12 to more than 1,300 students.

Alaska • The 1,875-mile long Yukon River is the longest river in Alaska and the third longest in the United States. • Alaska does not allow billboard advertising. • Alaska has the highest percentage of people who walk to work. • Alaska encompasses more than 591,000 square miles, or 378,242,560 acres. • Alaska has 50 percent more seacoast Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

• The Alaska Highway opened in 1942 and was the first road to connect the state with the contiguous United States. • Alaska became the 49th state on Jan. 3, 1959. • In 1968, it was announced that a substantial flow of natural gas was found in the Arctic, starting an “oil rush.” • First pipe for the trans-Alaska pipeline was laid in march 1975, and the first tanker load of oil left Valdez in 1977. • Gold was discovered in August 1896 near Skagway, marking the beginning of the Klondike Gold Rush. Sources: “Alaska: A history of the 49th State,” The Associated Press Stylebook for Alaska. www.frontiersman.com


ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman.com

Hayden Seltenreich, 14, left, and Kelsey Lucas, 14, hang on tight to their inner tubes as they are pulled around Wasilla Lake.

Continued from Page 30 edge, Wasair Drive to the west and Lucille Street to the east. The park offers a gigantic playground, picnic pavilions, bathrooms, basketball and tennis courts and a skateboard park. Palmer Skateboard Park: Located at the corner of Old Glenn Highway and South Valley Way at 231 East Arctic Ave. The park is smaller than the Wasilla park, but still draws a crowd. Swimming Holes: Wasilla Lake, in addition to the swimming beach, has a grassy area where lots of people congregate. There are also state-maintained swimming areas at larger lakes like Big Lake and Nancy Lake. Reflections Lake on the way to Anchorage is a manmade lake that is becoming increasingly popular. Few, if any, of these have lifeguards on duty. Towel off vigorously to avoid “duck-itch” and be aware that some of these lakes contain icky but harmless leeches.

PLAYGROUND DO’S and DON’TS By Iditapark Park veteran, Gabe Fish • Don’t cuss. • Do laugh. • Don’t call names. • Do remember where you left your toys. • Don’t cough on your friends. • Don’t brag if you win a game. • Do cheer on your friends. • Do try the wobbly platform toy. • Don’t hog the swings. • Do tell your parents if someone’s being mean. • Do ask before running off to play.

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Heather A. Resz

Big Lake is a popular destination for local sailing enthusiasts and is home to the Alaska Sailing Club.

Big Lake is primed for big fun

There’s no secret about how the community of Big Lake got its name, since it is located on the largest of several lakes in the area, also known as Big Lake. Located on a spur road a few miles outside Wasilla as one heads north on the Parks Highway, the lake is one of the busiest recreational areas in the Mat-Su Borough. Public and private campgrounds abound, with RV parking, water, tent sites, picnic areas, boat launches — even beaches for

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swimming (but be sure to wear a thermal swimsuit). For anglers, the area’s lakes feature rainbow and Dolly Varden trout, and red and coho salmon. Many visitors to the lake enjoy boating, waterskiing and other water sports during the long summer days, and frequently participate in many special events hosted by the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce. The community also hosts one of Alaska’s stranger events, water snowmachine racing. A popular recreation spot for Alaskans and visitors, Big Lake has been known as “Alaska’s Playground” since the 1950s. A short drive down Big Lake Road takes you into the center of town. Small shopping centers offer groceries, dining, gifts, banking services and more. With 67 miles of shoreline, Big Lake is the largest recreational lake on Alaska’s road system. Several local businesses rent boats, watercraft and other equipment. After a fun day on the water, dine lakeside at one of the local lodges. For overnight guests, there are several campgrounds, RV parks, motels and lodges in the area. Some things to do in Big Lake • Rent a houseboat for the weekend. • Take the kids swimming at one of several designated swimming areas. • Rent personal watercraft and cruise the lake.

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Southcentral climate is mild

Southcentral Alaska â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the area between Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Prince William Sound and the Wrangell-St. Elias mountain range â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is known for its quickchanging weather. One minute it may be warm and calm, the next cold and rainy. Even during the hottest months of the year, glacial winds can bring an icy chill, especially at higher elevations. During the summer months of July, August and September, expect midday temperatures in the high 60s, but some days the thermometer reaches the 80s in Mat-Su, with a general drop in temperature in the evening hours. Rain can be expected anytime, but especially from mid-August through November, followed by or mixed with snow that usually remains until late April or early May â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or break-up, as Alaskans call the muddy brown season most â&#x20AC;&#x153;Outsidersâ&#x20AC;? refer to as spring. Keep in mind while traveling that change in elevation can occur quickly, and while it may be warm in the Valley, as you travel into the mountains â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna range, Lazy Mountain in the Butte, or King Mountain in Sutton, for example â&#x20AC;&#x201D; temperatures could vary from 40 degrees to 70 degrees. If you are wondering how on earth to dress for the weather, we suggest layers. Your favorite T-shirt topped by a long-sleeved shirt or windproof jacket is a good start. Throw a heavier layer and a rain jacket in your daypack along with bug repellant and sunscreen. And donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t worry about dressing up for dinner at that nice restaurant on the lake with views of Mount McKinley. Come as you are and enjoy our hospitality, priceless views and friendly people!

Scott Robb won the 17th annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off at the Alaska State Fair with a 138.25-pound head in 2012.

Harley, an American bull dog, sits with doggles and helmet on ready for a ride at the H.O.G. Rally on the Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer.

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The Roadhouse in Talkeetna is a great place to enjoy lunch while visiting the northern Mat-Su Community.

Talkeetna — Gateway to Mount McKinley

Talkeetna is located about 14 miles up the Talkeetna Spur Road, which begins at Mile 98.7 of the Parks Highway. The small town is nestled in the shadow of Mount McKinley and at the confluence of the Susitna, Talkeetna and Chulitna rivers. The fish-filled rivers and North America’s highest peak draw a crowd of visitors each summer who use the river and hire airplane guides for sightseeing, camping, fishing and hunting. Talkeetna is famous throughout Alaska as the home base for those brave enough to climb the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley. On clear days, it is difficult to beat the scenic views available from this rustic community. Take a day hike or picnic along the

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banks of the Talkeetna or Susitna rivers. For a special treat, take a horseback riding tour for fantastic viewing of Mount McKinley. The best part about Talkeetna is the town is very pedestrian friendly. The end of the road is one big loop, and it’s best to park at one end and walk through downtown. This way, guests will not only see what the town has to offer, but will feel why it is so unique. The community also features restaurants and inns. The Talkeetna Roadhouse serves giant sourdough pancakes. Diners who order the Seward’s Folly at The West Rib Pub will know they went wrong when they see the monster burger. Mountain High Pizza Pie offers topping combinations not found anywhere else. To wash it all down, Talkeetna offers its own microbrewery called Denali Brewing Co. Downtown Talkeetna yields a variety of nightlife where bands and public events thrive. Charter operators offer jet-boat safaris on the Susitna and Talkeetna rivers. If a fast-moving riverboat tour isn’t what you have in mind, try a leisurely float instead. Natural history float trips, also narrated, allow you to explore the Talkeetna River at a calmer pace. The float trips are two to four hours long, offering another opportunity to view bears, eagles, beavers, moose, fox, fish and waterfowl, along with beaver dams, bear tracks and eagle nests. To get a listing of many of the charter operators and outfitters in the area, visit Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce’s website at talkeetnachamber.org, or call 733-2330.

Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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Wasilla the hub for Mat-Su activity

The first thing community visitors encounter heading north on the Parks Highway is Wasilla — “All I Saw” when read backward — which is appropriate because the community’s five city parks provide a variety of recreational opportunities like picnics, softball, swimming, fishing, waterskiing and other pastimes. As the largest city in the MatSu Borough, Wasilla sports a number of businesses where fishing and camping gear and licenses may be purchased, as well as grocery stores and guide services for everything from sightseeing to hunting and fishing.

Mat-Su Visitors Center and Veterans’ Wall of Honor: Located at Mile 35.5 Parks Highway, there is a monument dedicated to veterans. On Memorial Day, a large gathering is held there. Call 746-5000. The visitors center is also home to the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Dorothy Page Museum and Historical Townsite: Located on Main Street in downtown Wasilla, the museum is a historical account of the town. Behind the museum are the actual buildings from old-time Wasilla. There is a farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons and tours are available. Call 376-9071.

Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters: Located at Mile 2.2 Knik-Goose Bay Road, the headquarters has everything from a gift shop to dog sled rides. There are video presentations, as well as the Iditarod museum. Call 376-5155.

Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry: Located off the Parks Highway at Mile 47, the museum has old artifacts and displays from Alaska’s transportation history. It is open all summer and is www.frontiersman.com

a great place to take children. Call 376-1211. Wasilla Wonderland/Iditapark: Off Lucille Street and Nelson Avenue, the community-built playground is a center of activity during the summer. There is a skateboard park, BMX bicycle track and basketball, volleyball and tennis courts now line the park’s north side along Nelson Avenue. The park also includes pavilions, picnic tables, bike trails, an Armed Forces Memorial Garden, permanent restroom facilities, lots of paved parking and a “Garden of Reflection,” which serves as a quiet space for the park.

Hall of Fame: At Mile 13.9, Knik-Goose Bay Road, this museum pays tribute to the mushers who helped shape the small community of Knik. Call 376-7755.

Wasilla Lake and Lake Lucille: Both lakes are recreational centers during the warm summer months. There is a large beach at Wasilla Lake, just off the Parks Highway at Crusey Street. There is no lifeguard on duty, so be careful. Public access for Lake Lucille is near Mile 1 Knik-Goose Bay Road. Ice skating is available: at • Brett Memorial Ice Arena 375-9260, located adjacent to Wasilla Middle School, andWasilla High has an Indoor swimming pool, • Pool, Wasilla High School, 352-8200, call for public use.

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Knik Museum and Musher’s Mat-Su Valley Summer Visitors Guide 2013

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ROBERT DeBERRY/Frontiersman

A boat drifts across Lake Lucille in Wasilla as fireworks light up the sky. Page 36

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2013 Mat-Su Valley Vistors Guide