View Map

Overview

The little town of Nenana (pop. 400) sits at the confluence of two large interior Alaska rivers, the Nenana and Tanana. It's halfway between Denali National Park and Fairbanks along the Parks Highway, and is best known for the Nenana Ice Classic. Held annually since 1917, this is Alaska's version of the lottery, with bets placed on the time when Tanana River ice melts each spring; winners typically get around $280,000. A four-legged "tripod" used for the event sits along the river next to the picturesque railway station, which houses the seasonal Alaska State Railroad Museum. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding drove the railroad's golden ...

The little town of Nenana (pop. 400) sits at the confluence of two large interior Alaska rivers, the Nenana and Tanana. It's halfway between Denali National Park and Fairbanks along the Parks Highway, and is best known for the Nenana Ice Classic. Held annually since 1917, this is Alaska's version of the lottery, with bets placed on the time when Tanana River ice melts each spring; winners typically get around $280,000. A four-legged "tripod" used for the event sits along the river next to the picturesque railway station, which houses the seasonal Alaska State Railroad Museum. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding drove the railroad's golden spike in Nenana, symbolizing completion of the Alaska Railroad. Harding died a week later under mysterious circumstances. Walk around town to find S. Mark's Mission Church, a classic log building from 1904, an old wooden tugboat next to the visitor center, and a small Native cultural center. A long steel bridge spans the Tanana, and on the north side a dirt road leads to colorful Native graves. Limited food and lodging are available, including rooms upstairs at the railway depot. Alaska Railroad trains still pass through Nenana, but don't normally stop.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

view full overview

Don Pitcher for Triporati

Must See, Do

Save It for Next Time

info

If time is short, save these attractions for a second visit.

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June through September