Experience True Nature Alaska Wilderness Adventure Tours beyond Imagination



 

Iditarod Race Start Alaska 2015 | Mushers Banquet & Restart Willow

The biggest event of the year - the start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race !  Experience the bustling atmosphere of the Iditarod Race Start on Anchorage's 4th Avenue and the Iditarod Restart in Willow. Our Race Start tour includes the visit to the sled dog kennel of an famous Iditarod veteran including Iditarod Presentation and an exhilarating sled dog ride. Enjoy a delicious dinner at the Musher's Banquet where you'll witness the bib drawing and have a chance to meet the mushers personally. You can customize your preferred Iditarod program around the flexible tour package with many options: take a glacier and wildlife cruise tour of Prince William Sound, ski for a day at the Alyeska Resort  - Alaska's largest ski area, or choose from various fly-out options to remote Iditarod race checkpoints around famous Rainy Pass, Finger Lakes, the Yentna River or Nikolai with overnights in wilderness lodges within the Alaska Range foothills. Alternatively take a trip to Nome on the shores of the Bering Sea to observe the action when the first Iditarod Musher arrives after an exhilarating trip of 1100 Miles. This is the ideal itinerary for the independent traveler.

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  • Sightseeing Options

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Day
01

Anchorage (Wednesday)

Upon arrival in Anchorage transfer to your hotel. Remaining day at leisure and time to enjoy the many winter festival activities during the ongoing annual Winter Fur Rendezvous with: Native Arts Market, Theater Show, Winter Carnival Activities, Snow & Ice Sculpture Competition, Snowshoe Softball Matches and Firework Displays - while the cities gears up for the Iditarod Race Start over the weekend. The statue of the legendary lead dog Balto, located on 4th Avenue, marks the "official" starting point of the race. There is also a statue of Balto in New York City's Central Park. Don't miss a early evening gourmet dinner with a breathtaking view across Cook Inlet from the Captain Cook Hotel and it's renowned AAA-4 Diamond - Crow's Nest Restaurant - or sample some fresh Alaska seafood at the renowned Simon and Seafort's Restaurant just above the shoreline of Cook Inlet. Overnight: Anchorage


Day
02

Anchorage - Sightseeing Tour + Mushers Banquet (Thursday)

Explore the sights and highlights of Anchorage today during a guided city sightseeing tour. You'll visit the historical and scenic points of interest around Anchorage: Alaska's largest (Ski) Floatplane Base at Lake Hood, Earthquake Park, the Captain Cook Monument and 5th. Avenue. At 5:00 PM join the Musher's Banquet Dinner at the Dena'ina Center (included). Main part of the exciting evening entertainment is the bib number drawing, an auction and a 3-course dinner which starts around 6:00 PM. Dress code is casual. Vegetarian meals are available upon request. This is a must for anyone interested to observe "The Last Great Race on Earth" for the first time. Participants have plenty of photo opportunities, good chances to meet and talk with the Iditarod Musher personally, collect autographs and participate in the auction. Overnight: Anchorage.


Day
03

Anchorage (Friday)
 

Enjoy your free day in and around Anchorage or join our Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise (optional). Get into a comfortable van and leave Anchorage for an exciting day of sightseeing. You will drive along Turnagain Arm with dramatic views of mountain scenery and an inlet with the second highest tide in North America. Watch out for moose, dall sheep and other wildlife. Arrive in Whittier and join a 4 hr cruise to see the massive tidewater glaciers of Alaska at Blackstone Bay and Beloit Glacier - some of the most amazing sights you will ever see. Cruise along Passage Canal and venture into magnificent Blackstone Bay, home to seven glaciers and Yosemite-scale waterfalls. During our adventure you’ll step ashore to experience the natural geology and thick rainforest. Enjoy a snack and hot drink as you reflect on your journey and this magnificent nook of Alaska. On your return trip to Anchorage stopover at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or at Alyeska Ski Resort.


Day
04

Anchorage - Iditarod Ceremonial Race Start (Saturday)
 

The legendary Iditarod Race starts at 10:00 AM on 4th. Avenue in Alaska's largest city. Get up early and observe the start preparations, take close up pictures from about 100 Musher's, over 1000 Sled Dogs and enjoy the bustling and exciting race atmosphere before the teams are leaving from the starting line for the "1050 mile race to Nome". Anchorage parks and green belts are providing also a great alternative to observe the race activities. The Balto Statue marks the ceremonial starting point of the Iditarod. Balto was the final lead sled dog in a relay of dogsleds that brought vaccine from Anchorage to Nome just in time to stop a diphtheria epidemic that was threatening to devastate Nome's population in the winter of 1925. The story of the sled dog relay is a classic tale of adventure and sacrifice, as dozens of dogs and mushers risked their lives in brutal conditions to save their fellow citizens. Overnight: Anchorage


Day
05

Anchorage - Iditarod Race Re-Start Willow (Sunday)
 

After breakfast board the van or motorcoach for a guided tour to the official Iditarod Race Start in Willow (included). Leave at 10 AM and enjoy the drive along the scenic Glenn Highway with a brief stopover in Wasilla. Continue to Willow where the Iditarod restart ceremony begins at 2:00 PM. Enjoy the busy and bustling Iditarod race atmosphere and the musher's final preparation. For mushers, thousands of cheering fans at the official race restart -- following Saturday's ceremonial start in Anchorage -- now give way to remote Alaska wilderness and the promise of a finish line in Nome some 1,000 miles away, but not before crossing a trail that may prove perilous for both mushers and dogs. Our tour is fully escorted! Return to Anchorage approximately 7:00 PM.


Day
06

Anchorage (Monday)
 

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning at leisure in/around Anchorage. Time for your last shopping activities, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center or have a nice seafood lunch with delicious Alaska Salmon or King Crabs in one of Anchorage's top restaurants. Transfer from the hotel to the airport. End of tour package. Please note: Individual program extensions are available. Extend your stay and fly to Rainy Pass Lodge or Nikolai Checkpoints. Another option is to visit the sled dog kennel of a famous Iditarod Musher including sled dog ride.





ID-01 Iditarod Tour: The Race Start in Anchorage and Willow
Rates in US $ | per Person Single      Double      Triple      Quad     
✦ 2015 ✦ March 04 - March 09 | Superior Hotel $ 1240.00 $ 770.00 $ 670.00 $ 650.00
✦ 2016 ✦ March 02 - March 07 | Superior Hotel $ 1260.00 $ 790.00 $ 690.00 $ 670.00
✦ Upgrade to Anchorage First-Class Hotel Accommodation $ 410.00 $ 325.00 $ 290.00 $ 260.00
✦ Additional Night Anchorage - Superior Hotel Accommodation $ 90.00 $ 45.00 $ 35.00 $ 30.00
✦ Additional Night Anchorage - First Class Hotel Accommodation $ 140.00 $ 70.00 $ 60.00 $ 50.00

 

ID-01 Iditarod Tour: Services Included
  • 5 Nights Superior or First Class Hotel Accommodation
  • Daily American or Deluxe Continental Breakfast
  • Local Taxes
  • Anchorage Airport Transfers
  • Anchorage City Sightseeing Tour
  • Musher's Banquet Entrance Ticket including Dinner
  • Guided Tour to the Iditarod Race Re-Start in Willow
  • Sightseeing Information
  • Tour Documentation
  • Limited Guide Service





AKS01 Iditarod Musher Kennel Tour & Sled Dog Ride

Ever dreamed of moving silently across snowy landscape pulled by a team of Alaskan Huskies?  Dog sledding is an exciting introduction to a traditional Alaska winter transportation with lively huskies and a musher with a long time successful Iditarod history. The Susitna Valley is the dog mushing center of Alaska with a great trail system and many well known kennels. Meet the harnessed team and a musher for introductions and photographs. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is a popular, inspiring topic of conversation. During the educational and inspiring presentation you'll learn about dog team commands, running positions, mushing basics, equipment, sled harnessing and breading. Than drive your own dog team with guided supervision on the beautiful winter trails. The dogs are always ready for adventure as they tour Alaska by winter and it's glaciers by summer. Native Alaskans bred huskies from wolves for companionship, protection and transportation. Step on the runners for this authentic Alaskan adventure. Winter clothing such as parkas, bibs, boots etc.. are provided.

Rate per Person: $215.00 (without transfer)
Rate per Person: $275.00 (including round trip transfer from Anchorage)
Rate per Person: $290.00 (including guided tour and stopover at the Iditarod Headquarter in Wasilla)


AKS02 Prince William Sound Glacier & Wildlife Cruise

A rich variety of wildlife thrives year-round in Prince William Sound, and you can cruise these spectacular waters in the comfort of our spacious heated cabins. Winter is no obstacle to your enjoying the beauty of alpine glaciers, jagged shorelines and towering rocky outcroppings through our vessels' large picture windows. We commonly see Steller sea lions, sea otters, Dall's porpoise, and perhaps even Orca or Humpback whales. There is also a variety of ducks and waterfowl present at this time of the year. Join the 4 hr cruise to see the massive tidewater glaciers of Alaska at Blackstone Bay and Beloit Glacier - some of the most amazing sights you will ever see. Cruise along Passage Canal and venture into magnificent Blackstone Bay, home to seven glaciers and Yosemite-scale waterfalls. During our adventure you’ll step ashore to experience the natural geology and thick rainforest. Enjoy a snack and hot drink as you reflect on your journey and this magnificent nook of Alaska. Trip Highlights: ✓ Wildlife and winter scenery ✓ Alpine and piedmont glaciers ✓ Narration by accredited interpreters ✓ 4 1/2 hour cruise, approx 60 miles round trip ✓ Stopover at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center ✓ Photostop at Portage Lake ✓Professional Driver / Guide ✓Courtesy Hotel Pick Up & Drop off

Rate per Person: $185.00 (without transfer)
Rate per Person: $280.00 (including guided tour and stopover at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage Lake)


AKS03 Anchorage City Sightseeing Tour

Let our driver-guide show you some of Anchorage's historical points of interest in this sprawling city of over 250,000 full-time residents. Watch for attractions like the Log Cabin Visitor Center and its Crossroads of the World Signpost, Ship Creek Viewpoint overlooking Cook Inlet and the Alaska Railroad Depot, Resolution Park with its Captain Cook Monument, and the Museum of History & Art. Continue to Alaska's largest (Ski) Floatplane Base at Lake Hood and the nearby Earthquake Park, the site of the memorial of the 1964 Earthquake. See what happened to the land as it broke apart and slid into the Cook Inlet.  Cook Inlet views and pictures from here are a favorite for guests!

Rate per Person: $80.00


AKS04 Van Zyle Siberian Husky Kennel and Art Gallery Tour

Van Zyle completed the Iditarod twice and maintains today a husky kennel near Anchorage. From these adventures he has created the yearly Iditarod poster series commemorating the race and his involvement. Since 1979 he is the official Iditarod artist and in 2004 he was included into the Iditarod Hall of Fame. A book of his art and life "The Best of Alaska - the Art of Jon Van Zyle" were published in 1990 and since then continuously updated. His original paintings are exhibited in many galleries in the USA & Europe. We offer an exclusive 3-4 hour tour from Anchorage, starting around 1:00 pm - which includes a visit of the sled dog kennel, the Art Studio and a lecture about dog sledding, the Iditarod and his exceptional life in Alaska. A mini print of the current official Iditarod poster (Value: $22.00) is included.

Rate per Person: $115.00  (Minimum: 4 Clients, Transportation from/to Anchorage Included)


AKS05 Mt. McKinley Flightseeing Tour

You'll fly within 6-Miles of McKinley's 20.320 ft summit. Get a magnificent view of large glacier, ice-falls, mountain peaks and valleys and see how the last ice age has shaped the area. Continue to the Kahiltna Glacier and Ruth Glacier with it's Great Gorge -  with over 9.000 ft the world deepest gorge. The flight continues to the Sheldon Amphitheatre – the largest of its kind in the world. Another highlight may be the Wickersham Wall – a 14.000 ft continuous rise of rock and ice. During the tour you may catch also sights of mountain climbers. All flights include window seat and hotel transfers in Anchorage Duration: 3 Hours

Rate per Person: $415.00  (from/to Anchorage)


AKS11 Iditarod Checkpoint Tour: Rainy Pass Checkpoint Fly-out (Monday)

Morning Ski-plane flight from Anchorage along the Iditarod trail to Rainy Pass Lodge and the Puntilla Lake Checkpoint. The gateway to Alaska's interior offers some of the most spectacular scenery of the entire Iditarod Trail. Many teams are taking their mandatory 24 h. layover here before venturing via the treacherous Farewell Burn area and into the flat lands of Alaska's interior. You'll spend the whole day in this scenic remote wilderness area along the trail observing the many dog-mushing activities around the race. Deli Style Lunch & Soft Drinks & hotel transfers are included. Return to Anchorage in the early evening.

Rate per Person: $575.00  (from/to Anchorage)


AKS12 Iditarod Checkpoint Tour: Nikolai Checkpoint Fly-out (Tuesday)

Morning Ski-plane flight from Anchorage to Nikolai Checkpoint. The Athabasca Alaska Native Village - situated on the south fork of the Kuskowim River - was a former gold rush trading post and roadhouse which connected the the Ophir Gold Mining District with the Cook Inlet. With 50 houses and a population of 125 people, villagers here have a subsistence life style meaning they grow their own vegetables, hunt caribou and moose and fish for salmon. Some people are still trapping too. Many of the villagers gathering around the checkpoint socializing with visitors and mushers. This is a great place to watch the mushers care for their dogs and experience a little bit of life in a remote Alaska village. Lunch and hotel transfers are included.

Rate per Person: $875.00  (from/to Anchorage)


AKS13 3-Day Dog Mushing Adventures

Tours are available from Feb 01 - Apr 10. Day one includes the above 3-hour introduction to dog mushing and one night at a Bed & Breakfast. In the morning of day two you'll travel north for some of the best Mt.McKinley views. You drive a dog team into Denali National Park to the Tokosha Mountain Wilderness Lodge. After a relaxed lunch you are out for more dog mushing adventure in the middle of a spectacular mountain scenery. Enjoy the hospitality and a great meals at the wilderness lodge. Leave the next morning after breakfast and head home with fantastic memories and great photos. Additional information on request.

Rate per Person: $1300.00  (from/to Willow)






Anchorage Winter Activities

The crystal gallery of ice carving competition kicks off the winter festivities in Anchorage each year.  It marks the beginning of many activities to come between January and April - such as the Iditarod and the Iron Dog.  The ice carving competition occurs around the first weekend of January and happens in Anchorage’s town square with teams traveling as far as China to compete. Teams are provided with two blocks of ice weighing around 3 to 4 thousand pounds apiece and 48 hours to turn the blocks of ice into a masterpiece. Be careful when going to view the ice sculptures as they are located on an ice rink, literally.  Or better yet bring your ice skates along for the adventure.  Ice skating is free.


Fur Rendezvouz Activities

Inuit Blanket Toss
The blanket toss competition is like jumping on a trampoline, except the people who are holding the blanket are raising and lowering it to toss a person. This is the game often played at festivals and other Inuit celebrations. The "blankets" for the game are usually made from seal and walrus skins, so it can handle the pounding that results every time a player lands on it after the "toss." The winner is the player who bounces the highest. This game started when mountain men, Inuits and old fur traders used to meet in a pre-arranged place in the early spring each year to trade their winter's kills (furs) for cash and supplies. In the early 1900s, these meetings stopped happening because modern trappers and fur buyers had no use for them. But in the 1930's, a group of people who wanted to preserve their history brought back these meetings in the form of a 10-day celebration where games like the Blanket Toss are played.

Native Arts Market
Featuring over 150 Native Artisans selling and demonstrating their art -  from basket weaving, dolls, beading, carving and more! A rare opportunity to meet and greet the artists and watch them create their one of a kind items. The Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market is named for Charlotte Jensen as a tribute to her many years of service and her love of all things Rondy. She was a Past President, Former Lady Trapper, Vern Johnson Award winner, and long-time Board member of Greater Anchorage Inc. since the 1970’s. Charlotte was also Chairperson of the Merchandise Committee and the Native Arts Market.

Miners and Trappers Charity Ball
Break out the costumes and celebrate the 62nd Anniversary of the Miner’s and Trapper’s Charity Ball. Bring your world class beard and extremely tolerant other half to compete in the “Mr. Fur Face Contest,” the Alaska State Championship Beard and Mustache Contest. The Miner’s and Trapper’s Charity Ball has raised several million dollars for local charities and is produced by area Lions Clubs. The Egan Center - Tickets: $30.00 per person

Alaska Trappers Association Fur Auction
The South Central Chapter of the Alaska Trappers Association brings you the finest in Alaskan Fur, continuing its legacy as one of the original events of Rondy.

World Championship Sled Dog Races
With a great big field of amazing mushers from Alaska, Germany, Canada and the lower 48. Sled Dog Races are a Fur Rendezvous classic which began in 1946 and continue today with what is known as "The Rondy." The Open World Championship Sled Dog Race is considered the grandfather of all Alaskan races! The Rondy is produced by the Alaskan Sled Dog Racing Association (ASDRA). Come and witness the sheer intensity and excitement that is the most anticipated sprint race in North America. Endurance, Speed, and agility prove these dogs to be true athletes.


Iditarod View Points in Anchorage

Iditarod fans have an array of spots where they can watch the 62 race teams make their way across Anchorage on Saturday morning. One of the best is at the end, on Campbell Tract in Far North Bicentennial Park. There's parking at the "BLM" Bureau of Land Management Science Center, 5600 Science Center Drive off Elmore Road, for about 500 vehicles as well as shuttle buses to Kasuum Elementary (about 100 spots) and Abbott Loop Community Park (75 spots). After parking, spectators can follow wooded winter trails to viewing areas or use a shuttle to sample different viewing areas. School buses will run a loop route between 10:00 h and 16:00 h With the ceremonial start beginning at 10:00 h downtown, you'll have plenty of time to get a taxi from downtown Anchorage to the viewing areas before dog teams start arriving at around 11:00 h. The BLM staff put a lot of effort into preparing the terminus site to accommodate free public parking and close-up sled dog viewing and the Campbell Tract venue is one of our best kept scenic secrets to watch the musher away from the crowd. Portable toilets will supplement restrooms at the Campbell Creek Science Center, 5600 Science Center Driver off Elmore Road. The center also has hot chocolate and Iditarod exhibits.


Outdoor Activities in Anchorage

Nordic Skiing is available at Kincaid Park, on the Coastal Trail, Beach Lake, Eagle River and along the Hillside.
 





Iditarod General Information

The History

For six thousand years, sled dogs have served as the principal form of transportation for the native peoples of the north. As white settlers, gold miners, and fur trappers moved into what is today Alaska and the northern territories of Canada, they, too, used the dog team for winter transportation. When gold camps boomed in the interior the demand for mail and general supplies deliveries during the winter months were provided by sled dog teams. One of the major routes followed by the teams was the Iditarod Trail, which crossed Alaska from Seward on the Kenai Peninsula to Nome on the Bering Sea Coast. In the winter of 1925, a diphtheria epidemic struck Nome. The anti-serum required to stop the epidemic needed to be quickly transported to Nome, but no roads to Nome existed, ships could not sail through the pack ice, and air travel was too dangerous. The Iditarod Trail was the only answer, and a group of 18 dog teams and musher’s relayed the serum 674 miles from Nenana to Nome. This is the well-known story of Balto – the lead dog of the initial serum race. Clearly sled dogs were a key part of Alaska's early history, but they began to disappear as snowmobiles, airplanes, and roads arrived in Alaska during the middle 20th century. In response to this disappearance, Joe Redington Sr. and a group of musher worked together to start a race across Alaska that followed the old Iditarod Trail. This race was the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and it has become the world's premiere sled dog race since its first running in 1973.

The 2 Different Iditarod Trails

Yes, but only the middle part – approximately 300 miles of the trail alternates. The Northern Route, used in even-numbered years, heads north from the checkpoint of Ophir, reaches the Yukon River at Ruby, and travels downriver to Kaltag. The Southern Route, used during odd-numbered years, heads south from Ophir, passes through the ghost town of Iditarod, and reaches the Yukon River just below the checkpoint at Anvik. The trail then heads upriver to Kaltag. From Kaltag the trail is the same every year to the finish, and the trail from the starting line to Ophir is also the same each year. Please refer also the Iditarod Trail Map below.

Participating Musher

About 60-90 musher’s are usually participating. The largest number of musher ever to start the Iditarod was in the 2000 race when 82 musher left the starting line. The most to ever finish was in 2004 when 77 musher successfully made it to Nome. No limit has been imposed on the number of entries, but talks have been made of limiting the number to 100 teams if needed at some point in the future. A qualified musher is a person who is at least 18 years of age, is in good standing with the Iditarod Trail Committee, and has met one of the two following requirements: successfully finished a previous Iditarod or successfully finished two approved qualifying races totaling 500 miles or more in the 24 months prior to the start of the Iditarod the musher wishes to enter. Women have raced in every Iditarod since 1974, and currently about a dozen women run the race every year.  Two women have won the race.  Libby Riddles was the first woman to win the race when she braved her way through a storm in the 1985 Iditarod. Susan Butcher has won four Iditarod’s in the years 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990.  Because of Libby Riddles and Susan Butcher hold on the winner's circle from 1985 to 1988, the Iditarod Trail Committee trademarked the phrase: - "Alaska: Where men are men and women win the Iditarod."

The Iditarod Champion receives over 100,000 dollars in cash plus a brand new Dodge Ram 4x4 pickup (Alaska’s Dodge Dealers are a major race sponsor).  A total of about 800,000 dollars is distributed to the top 30 finishers in the race each year, and every musher who finishes the race is awarded $1,049. A few other smaller prizes are awarded along the trail to the first musher into the checkpoints of McGrath and Unalakleet, as well as the first musher to the halfway point and the Yukon River.  Other race awards include the Sportsmanship Award, the Humanitarian Award (for the musher who demonstrated the best dog care) the - Rookie of the Year Award - the most Inspirational Musher Award, and the Red Lantern Award (for the last place musher).

The Checkpoints | Checkpoint Fly-outs

The race trail has a total of 26 checkpoints between the starting line in Willow and and the finishing line in Nome. The checkpoints vary from people's homes along rivers to old cabins in the woods to villages and ghost towns. A few checkpoints are just remote place where planes could land to drop off officials and food and set up tents. The checkpoints are sort of the activity centers for the race. All of the veterinarians, officials, and food for musher and dogs are at the checkpoints. When a team arrives at a checkpoint, a checker signs the team into the checkpoint and records the time, date, and number of dogs in the team. Checkers also point out the location of camping sites for the team, the food drop bags (if a food drop checkpoint), and water (if available). Teams are not required to rest at every checkpoint, however, so sometimes teams just pass through and head out on the trail again whereas other teams stop for a rest. The Iditarod rules require a total of three rest stops. The first rest stop is a 24-hour stop that must be taken at a checkpoint of the musher's choice along the trail. This rest is typically taken between 300 and 600 miles into the race. The second rest stop is an eight-hour stop that must be taken at a checkpoint along the Yukon River. The third and final required rest stop is an eight-hour stop at the village of White Mountain, 77 miles from the finish line in Nome.

We mainly use reliable Cessna 202/204/206 or deHaviland Beaver for the flights from Anchorage to the checkpoints at Rainy Pass Lodge, Finger Lakes and Nikolai as well as to the wilderness lodge. You may leave all excess (hard case) luggage at the hotel while traveling with ski-planes or staying at the Wilderness Lodge. Please use only soft shell luggage or backpacks for the fly-outs. Thank you. Customers who travel to Nome could visit the following additional checkpoints: Safety, White Mountain, Golovin, Elim, Koyuk, Unanakleet and Shaktoolik. Please refer to each particular Iditarod tour program.

The Trail

The Iditarod Trail Breakers are some of the most hard-core snowmobile driver in the world. They make a 1,100-mile "highway" across Alaska every winter. About 10,000 pieces of surveyor's stakes with orange paint and reflective tape are used to mark the trail. Additional ribbons and tripod markers are used in places like the Alaska Mountain Range and the Bering Sea Coast. The rules require musher to stay on the marked race trail.  Despite such a heroic marking effort, winds, passing dogs and snowmobiles, and even wild animals can knock down markers. Musher still must know how to find and search the snow for signs of other dog teams.

The Dogs

The most commonly used dog in the Iditarod is the Alaskan Husky. The Alaskan Husky is actually a mixed breed, or mutt, dog that is born and bred to love to pull.  Alaskan Huskies are a descendent of the original northern sled dogs (mostly domesticated wolves and wild dogs) used by the native peoples of the North Country.  Beginning 150 years ago, white settlers, gold miners, and fur trappers moved into thee northland and brought their own dogs with them.  These dogs were a hodge-podge mix of larger breed dogs from the Lower 48 and other parts of the world that were not raised and bred for pulling. As a result, these dogs didn't do very well, but as these dogs interbred with the native sled dogs, the resulting dogs were excellent sled dogs, and the original "mutt" Alaskan Husky was born. The mixing of the breeds provided a great deal of genetic diversity and hybrid vigor that is still found in these dogs today.  Over the last 100 years, musher’s have mixed in other breeds in order to obtain dogs best suited to various uses.  Some of these breeds include hounds, pointers, collies, and even some German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are purebred derivatives of the original sled dogs, and can be considered cousins to the Alaskan Husky.  Some musher’s use these breeds, but these breeds lack the stamina, endurance, and attitude of the Alaskans

Ceremonial Start in Anchorage | Re-Start in Willow

The race begins always on the first Saturday in March on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage. However, the first race day is just a ceremonial start, and teams run only from Anchorage to Eagle River, 25 miles away. The time from the starting day has no effect on the final outcome of the race. This ceremonial start is done in order to allow for better publicity and coverage for the musher and the race, and it also allows each musher to give one lucky "Idita-Rider" a ride in his or her sled at the starting line. On the following day, the race is re-started in Willow, about 50 miles from Anchorage. This is the official timed start of the race. The reason for moving the teams out of Anchorage for the restart is that the congestion of Anchorage streets coupled with the geographic barrier of the Knik River and Knik Arm of Cook Inlet (part of the Pacific Ocean) make it safest to start in Willow.

The Mushers Banquet

The Mushers Banquet is held every year on a thursday - e.g. two days before the race start - at the newly build Dena’ina Center in downtown Anchorage. This is your chance to get up close and personal, talk to the musher, take pictures and collect autographs. A dinner is included in the ticket price. During the banquet musher’s usually thank their sponsors and draw starting numbers from a boot.  The order in which musher’s pick numbers from the boot is determined by the order in which musher signed up for the race. This banquet draws yearly a crowd of nearly 2000 spectators into the center. The doors are opening around 5:00 pm and the dinner begin at 6:00 pm. Our tours include admission, transfer to the center and the dinner. Please note: We do not provide a ticket service for individual customers without a tour package !

Weather Conditions

The weather is always an unknown variable. From November to early March, when the amount of daylight ranges from 10 to less than 4 hours per day, the lowest temperature readings will fall below zero. Low temperatures of -40 to -50°F or colder occur each winter. Long periods of five to ten or more days of extremely low temperatures occur during the winter months. Nome is the exception, with Norton Sound moderating the local temperatures. While Nome’s overnight winter temperatures typically fall to near zero, readings lower than -20°F are uncommon. From October through April, snow cover is persistent in most areas, without interruption. Colder weather is easier on the dogs, which generally run best in a range from 20-below zero to 20 degrees above. The coldest temperature ever recorded on the Iditarod Race was in ’73 when the temperature with wind chill plummeted to unbelievable –130º F.

Customized Iditarod Tours | Reservation Center

We can certainly customize any of our tours for you but it is important to contact us as early as possible because overnight accommodation along the trail is very limited. The same applies to fly-outs from Anchorage to the checkpoints or programs with finishing in Nome. We advertise a “custom program” with a variety of checkpoint fly-out options, program extensions and choice of hotel accommodation. Please contact us for additional information. Note: always reserve tours as soon as possible because most Iditarod Packages are providing only a very limited capacity due to the wilderness lodge accommodation and/or the checkpoint flights. Sometimes tours are booked one year in advance but during some other years you may be lucky to obtain individual space up to two months before a tour starts - but in general this is very unpredictable.

Clothing

We recommend to pack the following clothing: warm winter boots such as "Sorels", shell lining such as Gore Tex or other winter (ski) jackets, windbreaker, wool or fleece pullover, long underwear, gloves, hut, sunglasses, wool socks, wool shirts, jeans, fleece pants. Also take some additional food, fruits and drinks for the days in the wilderness with you. Most stores in Anchorage are carrying a wide variety of healthy outdoor food items. The luggage during fly-outs is limited to smaller soft shell cases or backpacks. Please do not use hard shell luggage on fly-out days.

General Accommodation Information

Please refer to the individual information for each Tour. We reserve the right to substitute the current and/or regularly used wilderness accommodation with a similar category anytime at our own discretion - if regional weather, snow or ice conditions are preventing fly outs to/from the lodge.

Superior Hotels: Located in downtown Anchorage - most rooms with sweeping views of Mount Susitna, the Cook Inlet or the Ship Creek Valley. Hotel amenities include: free local calls and local newspapers, 24-h fitness center access, laundry, high speed DSL and wireless internet access, business center, convenience shop. The rooms (smoking & non-smoking) are providing a private bathroom, 27’’ cable TV with pay per view channels access, coffee maker, refrigerator, iron -  and ironing board, phone with voice mail, data port. The Iditarod Race ceremonial starting line and the renowned Anchorage Ice Festival exhibition areas are in walking distance and many shops and department stores are conveniently located around or near the hotel. Transfer time from the Ted Stevens Int'l Airport to the hotels is approximately 20 minutes. (included)

First-Class Hotels: Upgrade to the Hilton, Marriott or Sheraton - all centrally located within downtown Anchorage with sweeping views of Ship Creek, the Chugach Mountains and/or the Cook Inlet. Hotel amenities included: fitness center, indoor pool, steam rooms, restaurants, bars, Starbucks coffee shop, high speed internet access, business center. All deluxe rooms (smoking & non-smoking) are providing a private bathroom, luxurious bathroom amenities, flat screen TV, phone, deluxe mattress, down comforter, king/queen beds, alarm radio, MP3 Player plug in, hair dryer, iron- and ironing board, dual coffee maker. Restaurants and shopping areas are in walking distance from the hotel. Transfer time from the Ted Stevens Int'l Airport to the hotels is approximately 20 minutes. (included) Private Limousine Transfers provided.

Wilderness Lodge Accommodation

Suitable accommodation within Alaska's wilderness areas during the Iditarod Race is extremely limited. Luggage space on all ski-plane fly outs to the race checkpoints and to the lodge is limited to 20 pounds per person. You may use soft-shell luggage only. The nicely appointed three-story wilderness lodge is located about 90 Air Miles NW of Anchorage within the foothills of the magnificent Alaska Range. The flight time to the lodge is approximately 45 minutes. Your remote home away from home is comfortably furnished with polished hardwood floors and large picture windows. Accommodation in rooms with two twin size beds and cabins for up to four clients. Guaranteed single room occupancy available. A total of six rooms are sharing the two large bathrooms – a real threat in a remote Alaska wilderness location. Limited internet access. Generous Alaskan style meals are served at the main dining room. Optional activities: snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice-fishing.


 

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