What Is It?
Watch mushers—as dogsled drivers are known—sled roughly 1,000 miles through Alaska in the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. This year, the famed race will begin March 4 in Anchorage, and the teams will race west to Nome, a city on the coast.
Starting the Race
Historically, dog teams were used in Alaska for transportation and work. In the ’60s, snowmobiles began replacing dogs. Races were seen as a potential way to continue the legacy and lore of mushing, and after a few shorter, 56-mile races in ’67 and ’69, the first 1,000 mile trek to Nome was held in 1973.
The race’s path has roots dating back to the gold rush. Boom towns like Nome and Iditarod—which sits around the trails midway point—needed supplies year-round, and boats could not reach Nome when rivers froze over in winter. Starting in 1908, the federal government surveyed and constructed a sled trail to deliver supplies west from railroad terminations near Anchorage.
Mushers must start the Iditarod with between 12 and 14 dogs in their team. Mushers must have a sled that can haul all equipment and food, as well as injured dogs. Required equipment includes an axe, snowshoes, a sleeping bag and an operational cooker.
Even if you don’t watch the race, you can visit the Iditarod Museum in Wasilla year round. The museum address is 2100 S. Knik-Goose Bay Rd., Wasilla. To start planning your visit , call 907-376-5155, ext. 108 or visit iditarod.com.