Family Vacations in Alaska

Family Vacations in Alaska: Iditarod Sled Dog Race

©Wayne Johnson The “Last Great Race on Earth,” the Iditarod Sled Dog Race attracts mushers.

The longest dogsled race in the world covers 1,150 miles from Anchorage to Nome along an old mail route known as the Iditarod Trail. Many children know of its beginnings from the story of Balto, the famous sled dog. In 1925, an epidemic struck Nome and the hospital needed medicine as soon as possible. The city had few roads and no railroads, frequent snowstorms had grounded airplanes, and boats couldn't navigate the frozen Bering Sea. Sled dogs saved the day, relaying the medicine from Anchorage across the snow and ice to Nome, and Balto was the lead dog of the final leg of the trip.

The present-day Iditarod kicks off on the first Saturday in March, when mushers and their teams of 12 to 16 dogs take off from Anchorage. Kids love watching the teams of eager barking dogs dash from their starting positions. Volunteers and non-mushers get involved in the race in a number of ways. Some people bid for the chance to ride with a musher for the first 11 miles of the race, while others make booties for the dogs to wear to protect their feet from the ice and snow.

Iditarod Sled Dog Race Information

Address: Kicks off from downtown Anchorage at 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK

Telephone: 907/248-MUSH

Hours of Operation: First Sat. in March

Learn more about family vacation destinations and Alaska travel:

  • Iditarod Quiz:  Test your knowledge of the world's most famous sled dog race.
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Alaska State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Alaska, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.


Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.