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A hand-painted sign—Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna—on the main road sets the stage for what is one of Alaska's most iconic small towns. Talkeetna sits at the confluence of three rivers, halfway between Anchorage and Denali National Park & Preserve. With a population of about 800, this former gold-mining town personifies rural Alaska. Talkeetna is one of the best spots from which to view Denali, or Mount McKinley, and is a jumping-off point for flightseeing trips as well as for climbers setting out on mountain treks. It is also an arts enclave, and offers galleries, crafts boutiques and infinite opportunities for people-watching.