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I Did the Iditarod Trail

Wasilla wasn’t a very big town 25 years ago.

But nearby Anchorage is so landlocked by parks, military bases, and Cook Inlet that many Alaskans who work there have chosen to live here and commute to their jobs in Wasilla, Alaska.

Wasilla, where the real Iditarod Sled Dog Race starts, is Alaska’s fastest growing community.

(Photo, Martin Buser)


Wasilla Area Museums

Wasilla was named after Chief Wasilla, an Athabascan Indian leader.

The town is on the old Carle Wagon Trail, an historic trail that linked Knik to the mines at Hatcher Pass.

When the Alaska Railroad was built in 1917, the point where it crossed the gold mine trail became “Wasilla.” The train depot, now used by the local Chamber of Commerce, marks that spot.

Museums in the region include the Dorothy Page Museum on Main Street in Wasilla, the Iditarod Museum on the Knik Road, the Knik Museum & Musher’s Hall of Fame (farther down the Knik Road), and the Museum of Transportation, just north of Wasilla on the Parks Highway.


Down in the Valley

Two huge river valleys make up the Mat-Su Valley. The Matanuska River starts at the Matanuska Glacier in the Chugach Mountains to the east. The Glenn Highway runs alongside it. The Susitna River comes into Talkeetna from the mountains of the Alaska Range. The Parks Highway was built in the valley beside it.


Miners Anchored, Then Boated Over to Knik & Iditarod Trail

Old Knik is now pretty much abandoned. But in July, 1898, it was an important boom town.

Knik was the outfitting center for Alaska’s gold miners. They anchored their ships in the deeper waters of the nearby “anchorage” and took smaller boats to Knik, where they headed up the Iditarod Trail to the goldfields of western Alaska.

The Knik Museum and Musher’s Hall of Fame was once the town’s pool hall.

It’s located 14 miles down the Knik Road from Wasilla.

Joe Redington, a musher from Knik, came up with the idea for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. There’s a memorial garden dedicated to him.

Currently, there’s talk of building a bridge from Anchorage across Cook Inlet to Knik – one of the well-known Alaskan “bridges to nowhere.”


More About The Iditarod Trail

A number of Alaska towns consider themselves to be the beginning of the Iditarod Trail.

Knik was where miners entered the trail from Cook Inlet. Seward was where miners landed and came north from Resurrection Bay over the old Iditarod Trail.

The original 1925 Iditarod Trail serum run started in Nenana.

The current dog sled race officially starts in Anchorage, then restarts in Wasilla or Willow and ends in Nome, taking northern & southern routes every other year.

+ Click here for a map of the complete Iditarod Trail

+ Activities + Things to Get
+ Where to Stay + Where to Eat

wasilla teelands

WASILLA BUSINESSES

ACTIVITIES
Knik Museum

WHERE TO STAY

Alaskan Trails RV & Camper Park
Best Western Lake Lucille Inn



WASILLA, ALASKA MAPS AND FEATURES
+ Map of Wasilla and Surrounding Area
+ Map of Gold Rush Towns
+ Iditarod Trail Map

RELATED MAPS AND FEATURES
+ Map of Parks Highway Campgrounds

In Wasilla, Don't Miss...
• Mat-Su Visitor Center at the Parks Hwy Jct.
• Dorothy Page Museum
• Museum of Transportation
• Iditarod Trail Museum
• Iditarod Kennels

More About the Mat-Su Valley
Although these are two distinct river valleys, made by two rivers that don’t cross each other (the Matanuska and the Susitna), local people treat the two valleys as if they were one, calling them “The Valley.” You’ll also often hear this region referred to by its shortened nickname, “Mat-Su.” An Alaskan form of government similar to a county (but called a “borough” here) covers much of the Mat-Su area. There are two easy to get to visitor centers. One is in downtown Palmer. The other – the Mat-Su Visitor Center – is just north of the intersection of the Parks and Glenn Highways.

Click here for a map of the Mat-Su Valley.

WASILLA, KNIK, BIG LAKE, WILLOW AND HOUSTON are stretched along the Parks Highway 43 to 98 miles north of Anchorage. Wasilla, Palmer and the Knik area blend into each other in a sprawling new community.

Farther up the Parks Highway, the people thin out. There are lakes, creeks, dog kennels, recreational sites, bunnies, and bunny boots (pictured below). bunny boots

+ More about Bunny Boots in the Talkeetna Section

 

MAT-SU VALLEY (map)

Population: 62,426
Size: 22,683 square miles
Starts: 35 miles north of Anchorage

1.“Mat” stands for “Matanuska.”
2.“Su” stands for “Susitna.”
3. Known as “The Valley” to Alaskans.
4. Fast-growing bedroom community.
5. Includes Palmer, Wasilla, Big Lake, Houston, Willow, and Talkeetna.

Wasilla Chamber of Commerce
The website of the Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce. Includes events calendar, community profile, and business directory.

Museum of Alaska Transportation
The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry has been 'giving a future to Alaska's past since 1976.' Read about its different collections, which run from vintage aircraft to stock from the Alaska railroad.


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