The Iditarod Trail

A few weeks ago, we spoke about certain activities you could enjoy when heading to the Arctic circle. Well, we thought we would pick this theme up again as there are so many incredible adventures awaiting you in so many wonderful countries within the Arctic Circle.

We recently posted on our Instagram about the Iditarod Dog Sled race in Alaska. For anyone who loves animals, this is a must-see event, even more so for dog lovers. Here at The Luxury Arctic Travel Company, we are HUGE dog lovers, and the thought of this event makes us so excited to go and experience it.

The trail the race follows is the actual Iditarod trail running from Alaska’s Anchorage to Nome. With over 100 ‘mushers’ taking part with their beloved best friends. The race started out with a smaller 25-mile race (45km) in 1967 as part of a 100-year celebration of the ‘Alaska Purchase’ (the Alaska Purchase took place in 1867 where Russia had to sell part of its territory because of its amounting debt following the Crimean War. Negotiations were put on hold when the American Civil War began and only opened again in the year of 1867. Russia sold the equivalent of 586,412 square miles or 1,518,800 square km, which is now what we call Alaska and is one of America’s most northern territories). Following the centennial celebration of Alaska Purchase, the Iditarod evolved fairly rapidly, in 1973, to the race it is now. The course is now a huge 1,100 miles (1,770 km) long and follows part of the old Iditarod dogsled mail route. The Iditarod mail route dipped in and out of stunning coastal towns, goldfields, and mining camps in the north-western part of Alaska during the turn of the century, the dogs would deliver mail as well as gold between Nome and Iditarod – hence the name stuck. This mail route declined during the 1920’s when the introduction of steam trains and airplane began to take over, making it easier to deliver mail and gold and much quicker. However, during 1925, there was an outbreak of Diphtheria which meant there were hardly any able pilots to fly these planes, so it came back to the traditional dogs and their mushers to battle their way across harsh conditions to be able to deliver much needed medication. Following this heroic feat, which was nicknamed ‘The Great Race of Mercy’, it brought new fame to the Iditarod trail and its valiant team of dogs. The lead dog on the team, Balto, became an almost celebrity!

The Iditarod trail traverses across two mountain ranges – the Alaska and Kuskokwim, as well as following the Yukon River for 150 miles. The terrain also includes pack ice, frozen waterways as well as the mountain ranges. Global warming has since meant that the race must adapt to the ever-decreasing Alaskan snow cover, sometimes shortening its overall length by 100 miles (60 km).

The teams of dogs are looked after impeccably. Like looking after anything that you rely on and want to work efficiently, you must feed, oil, water (whatever it is you are looking after!) to perfection. All the dogs have access to 24hr veterinary care pre, during and post the event – like any Olympic athlete, these animals have access to the best care, from their mushers to the team around the Iditarod trail dog race.

Taking place every March, this is a race you do not want to miss. To get in touch with us to find out more information about the best places to stay when wanting to join in with the race’s celebrations. We would love for you to experience something not many people would try; we want to pass on bucket list experiences you hadn’t even though about.