Wasilla is home to the Iditarod Headquarters, which features a museum, gift shop, sled dog rides, and video viewings. Here you can learn the history of the Iditarod, view trophies and photographs, meet some sled dogs, and even take a ride with them down the trail. Experience the Iditarod by viewing the videos of actual footage along the Iditarod trail. Located at mile 2.2 of the Knik Goose Bay Rd, the Iditarod Headquarters is a great way to learn about a race over 1,150 miles long.
The Iditarod trail played numerous roles throughout history, beginning as a supply route and ending as a race of endurance and strength. The Iditarod trail began as a mail run in which mail and supplies for the mining communities in the Interior and Western coastal areas went in from the major ports of Seward and Knik. In 1925, the idea of a race was born, when a diphtheria outbreak in Nome called for a race against time. The serum was transported to Nome by dogsled, and today mushers and dogs still run that same historic trail as a test of vigor and stamina.
Today the ceremonial start of the Iditarod begins in Anchorage and from there the dogs run to Eagle River. The official restart then takes place in Willow to mark the beginning of the long trek towards Nome. Ophir, the 13th checkpoint, signifies a split in the trail. Mushers take the northern route going through Cripple, Ruby, Galena, and Nulato during the even numbered years and the southern route going through Iditarod, Shageluk, Anvik, Grayling, and Eagle Island during the odd numbered years. Kaltag marks the point where these two different routes meet back up and continue their journey to Nome.
The Official Iditarod Race Restart occurs over the first weekend in March and typically lasts 10 -17 days. It is a time of excitement and involvement in rural communities, stimulates learning and economic growth, and involves thousands of volunteers all over the state. Come and be a part of Alaska’s culture and history. Visit the headquarters, attend the ceremonial start, camp on the trail to cheer on the mushers, or fly to Nome to see the grand finish. Make your Alaskan experience complete by attending “The Last Great Race on Earth.”