The 2015 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is over, but the Iditarod Trail is much more than just a sled dog racetrack. This network of over 2,300-miles of winter trails, which first connected ancient Native Alaskan villages, opened the territory for the last great American gold rush, and it now plays a vital role for travel and recreation in modern-day Alaska. Multiple groups use the historic trail every year, from the super-fast Iron Dog snowmachiners to long-distance trekkers and modern-day explorers seeking adventure in the Alaskan backcountry.
Portions of the Iditarod National Historic Trail from Seward to Nome are open to the public, and while the northern stretches of trail are generally impassable in the summer, you can explore the Historic Trail year-round on foot, by auto, or by rail between Seward and Knik, especially in the Chugach National Forest on the Kenai Peninsula, and Chugach State Park right outside of Anchorage.
National Historic Trails commemorate major routes of exploration, migration, trade, communications, and military actions that formed America, and only 16 trails in the U.S. have been honored as National Historic Trails. The Iditarod is the only Alaskan trail in the National system, and the only Historic Trail celebrating the indispensable role played by man’s best friend in America’s Last Great Gold Rush. Without the dependable sled dog hauling freight, passengers, mail and more, the history of Alaska and the north country would have been quite different.
One of the many resources available free from the BLM Alaska site for the Iditarod National Historic Trail is a downloadable PDF of the beautiful and informative full-color, 24-page Visitor Guide by Alaska Geographic, which details the route, the history, and the current projects along the trail. Of special note are the numerous easily accessible sites of interest along the present-day trail, especially between Seward and the Mat-Su area, and the wonderful old historic photos with their interesting descriptions.
Several other free guides are also available, including Chugach National Forest, Denali National Park, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Alaska Geographic’s visitor guides include detailed maps, trip planning information, wildlife viewing opportunities, and much more. Developed in coordination with agency partners, these guides offer up-to-date information to enhance your visits to these popular destinations in Alaska.
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