Southcentral Alaskan Community of Wasilla
Location: Wasilla is located midway between the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys, on the Parks Highway. It lies between Wasilla and Lucille Lakes, 43 miles north of Anchorage.
Nestled between Lake Lucille and Lake Wasilla and surrounded by the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains, Wasilla was born during gold rush days and today is the Mat-Su Valley’s major supply center. Wasilla is the home of the world-renowned Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Tesoro Iron-Dog 2000, the world’s longest snowmobile race. Fishing, swimming, boating, hiking and biking are popular activities during summer’s long daylight hours, and mountains, lakes, streams, forests and glaciers are within easy reach.
Besides its great view of the mountains surrounding Knik Inlet, the large log lodge that houses the Mat-Su Visitors Center is packed with tons of information on local activities, attractions and lodging as well as friendly staff to answer your questions and help plan your activities.
The Dorothy Page Museum on Main Street is both a museum and an interesting historical village of preserved buildings, each loaded with artifacts. Named after the ‘Mother of the Iditarod,’ the museum is packed with tools and other relics from the early farmers as well as mining displays. In the historical village there are eight preserved buildings, mostly classic log cabins, with two National Historic Landmarks. One is Wasilla’s first public sauna that was opened in 1942 with men and women using it on alternate days of the week.
The Museum of Alaska Transportation & Industry showcases such transportation relics as a C-123 plane, tractors of the first Mat-Su farmers and the first diesel locomotive used in Alaska. There is a picnic area and a 7 1/2″ gauge railroad ride operated by Alaska Live Steamers, great for all ages.
Wasilla is the official starting point of the famous 1,049-mile Iditarod race to Nome each March, following the ceremonial start is in downtown Anchorage the day before. Learn more on this uniquely Alaskan race at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters. The log cabin museum features historical displays, photos of past champions and race paraphernalia. An excellent video on sled dogs and the race itself is shown and an impressive checkpoint-by-checkpoint leader board is posted on the wall.
For even more information on dog mushing and racing, visit the Knik Museum & Sled Dog Musher’s Hall of Fame. You’ll find displays on the Iditarod Trail, early Alaskan mushers and the Canine Hall of Fame. Outside you can easily walk a portion of the historic Iditarod Trail that passes the museum.
There are a number of Iditarod racers along the Parks Highway north of Wasilla that offer tours of their kennel, mushing demonstrations and some provide a ride in a summer sled. This provides a unique opportunity to meet a big name Iditarod racer and find out why so many people love the sport.
Mat-Su Valley lakes are stocked with plenty of fish including rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, lake trout and Arctic char. King salmon begin to move into the clear water streams of the Susitna River drainage in early June. There are plenty road accessible sites, boat rentals available for non-road accessible fishing and plenty of area guides to help you land the big one.
Wasilla has two golf courses. Settlers Bay embraces the natural beauty of the area, from a variety of wooded areas and wetlands, to the spectacular views of the Chugach Mountain Range. For its variety and challenge, the course has earned recognition in the pages of Golf Digest’s “Places to Play” Guide. Sleepy Hollow is a 9-hole, par 27 golf course with incredible scenery and provides a challenging course for the skilled player, yet still enjoyable for the novice.