Iditarod National Historic Trail Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the length of the Trail?

A: The original surveyed mail route from Seward to Nome was 938 miles. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race uses two alternate routes from Willow to Nome which are each substantially longer than the historic route. The North Route is 914 miles long and the South Route is 928 miles long. Race route mileage is subject to annual change due to route variations. The total mileage for the historic trail system (including side and connecting trails) is approximately 2,300 miles.

Q: Do I need a permit to travel the trail?

A: Casual users who do not charge fees for transporting or supporting other users, or who do not organize competitive events on the trail are not required to obtain a permit. Persons who organize or benefit from commercial or competitive activities are required to obtain a Special Recreation Permit for use of federal lands.

Q: Where can I hike the trail during the summer?

A: Since the Iditarod Trail is primarily a winter trail, opportunities for summer hiking are limited. The first several miles of the trail north of Seward can be hiked during the summer as can the approximately 30 miles from Girdwood to Eagle River. Visitors to Nome can hike east along the trail near the Bering Sea coast for approximately 30 miles.

Q: Can I ride my snowmachine on the Iditarod Trail?

A: Most federal and State lands along the Iditarod are open to snowmachine use. It is best to check with the administering agency prior to travel to see if any temporary closures have been implemented.

Q: What kind of services are available near the trail?

A: The cities of Anchorage, Nome, Seward, Girdwood, Eagle River, and Wasilla all provide numerous opportunities for food, lodging and transportation. North of Wasilla, however, the trail enters an essentially roadless wilderness with very limited service and support facilities. Small towns and villages along the trail such as McGrath, Unalakleet, and Galena have regularly scheduled air transportation, but are somewhat limited in other support facilities. Smaller villages can provide food, fuel and limited lodging depending on availability.

Q: What kind of wildlife can I expect to encounter along the trail?

A: Depending on the part of the trail and the season, you can expect to see moose, caribou, brown bear, bison, wolf, Dall sheep and many varieties of birds and smaller mammals. Near the Bering Sea coast you may see seals, walrus and occasionally a polar bear. Be aware that all of these are wild animals and may become hostile if they feel threatened. Use appropriate caution with any animal encounter.

Q: I will be coming to Alaska for a week during the summer. Where are the best places to view the Iditarod and learn more about the history of the trail without having to walk long distances or hire a guide?

A: One of the best places to view the Iditarod Historic Trail is at the start in Seward. The first couple of miles of the trail begin as a paved bike path near the small boat harbor. The Seward Museum also maintains displays and interpretive material on the early days of Seward and the trail. Other interesting displays are maintained in Wasilla at the Dorothy Page Museum, and in Knik at the Musher's Hall of Fame Museum. A very interesting display on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is maintained at the Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters in Wasilla. If you are able to go to Nome, a drive east along the Bering Sea coast follows the historic trail for approximately 30 miles. While there, check out the materials and photos at the Carrie McClain Museum.