The fastest growing area in Alaska, and home of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters and host of the Iditarod re-start.
Location / Coordinates: Wasilla, Alaska is situated in the heart of the Matanuska Susitna Valley on the northern side of Knik Arm, about an hour’s drive from Anchorage on the Parks Highway heading north. It is located in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Coordinates: Latitude N61.58 & Longitude W-149.44
Population / Elevation: Wasilla, Alaska is 500 feet above sea level with over 6,500 people living there and more moving to Wasilla every day.
Description: Wasilla, Alaska stretches out on both sides of the Parks Highway for several miles. Most of the businesses are on Parks Highway with residential neighborhoods located back in the forest. Wasilla is quickly becoming a bedroom community for commuters to Anchorage.
What to do there: Wasilla, Alaska is the last “big” town until Fairbanks. Stock up for supplies here before you head off to Denali National Park & Preserve, or camping or fishing.
Wasilla, Alaska is home to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race Headquarters. In the past few years, Wasilla has also hosted the re-start of the Iditarod Race, because Anchorage didn’t have enough snow. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is over one thousand miles of snow, ice, cold and dark between Anchorage and Nome. Billed as the “Last Great Race,” the Iditarod truly is a phenomenal feat both for the dogs and the mushers. The Iditarod takes place the first Saturday in March and continues for a week or more.
The Iditarod visitors’ center is open daily in the summer season, and weekdays during the winter season. Historical displays on the Iditarod, summer cart rides with an Iditarod musher and dog team, and souvenirs can be found here.
With the Iditarod in mind, take a tour of an Iditarod sled dog kennel. Several Iditarod racers along the Parks Highway give tours of their kennels and some offer rides with their dogs. It’s quite an experience!
The Knik Museum and sled dog Musher Hall of Fame is open during the summer season for those of you who just can’t get enough of the Iditarod and mushing.
Yes, fishing and hunting are big in Wasilla—it’s an Alaskan thing. Everywhere you go in Alaska, there are rivers, streams, and lakes, and all of them are full of fish just waiting for you to drop a line. Wasilla offers local fishing guides, river charters, and lakes stocked with Rainbow Trout, landlocked Salmon, Aractic Grayling, Lake Trout, and Arctic Char. King Salmon start the swim up stream in early June. The highest catch rates usually can be found in Alexander Creek, Deshka River and the Little Susitna River.
For a little site seeing, stop in the Town Square Art gallery, or the Dorothy Page Museum and Historical Townsite. The 1917 Alaska Railroad Depot is an interesting stop—it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry has displays of farm machinery, mining and military equipment, snowmachines, boats, planes, trains, timber and petroleum industry, and telecommunications equipment. It is open during the summer season.
History: Wasilla, Alaska is named for a respected Athebascan chief of the Dena’ina Indains. The chief’s name in Dena’ina means ‘Breath of Air.” The chief may have been called “Vasili,” the Russian version of “William,” as well.
Wasilla began as a supply base for the gold mines in the Hatcher area also known as the Willow Creek Mining District, in the early 1900s. Wasilla was the intersection between the Alaska Railroad and the Carle Wagon Road—now the Wasilla-Fishhook Road. The railroad ran between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and the Carle Trail connected the gold mines at Hatcher Pass and the seaport on the Knik Arm. The 1930s the Colony Project of the Palmer area brought more settlement to Wasilla and the Matanuska Susitna Valley. Palmer briefly became the commercial hub of the Matanuska Susitna Valley during this time and continued to be until the 70s when the Parks Highway was completed and Palmer became an exit on the way to Glennallen.
Wasilla today is the fastest growing community in Alaska. Surrounded by majestic peaks of the Chugach Mountains and the Talkeetna Mountains, with Lake Lucille, and Lake Wasilla in its boundaries, Wasilla offers unlimited opportunities for recreation and photo opportunities.
How to get there: During the summer season, the Alaska railroad stops in Wasilla, Alaska on its way to Denali National Park & Preserve, Talkeetna, and on up to Fairbanks. Everyone else can drive to Wasilla on the Parks Highway, Anchorge is about an hour away. Wasilla does have a charter air service as well as an unattended municipal airport.
Facilities: Wasilla, Alaska has numerous hotels, motels, inns, B&Bs, and hunting and fishing lodges. There are all the fast food chains; Italian, Mexican, and Home cooking restaurants in Wasilla too. Carrs (Safeway) and Fred Meyers grocery stores are both located in Wasilla. All of the necessary services for travelers, campers, hikers, RV’s, and others can be found in Wasilla.
RV info: There are several RV parks in and around Wasilla, Alaska. These facilities offer dump stations, showers, laundry facilities, and full hook-ups.