August 20, 2014

The Iditarod Trail

The Most Common Question Asked About the Trail

Why does the trail go one way in even years (northern) and the other way in odd years (southern)?

Both sections of trail are a part of the Iditarod National Historical Trail which was used in early years for all winter travel. Dog sleds delivered the mail, the preacher, the groceries, and hauled out gold and furs all the way to Anchorage or Fairbanks.

During the early years of the Iditarod Race, the mushers only traveled the northern trail. After several years, the Iditarod Board of Directors realized that the smaller villages were being heavily impacted by the race coming through their village year after year. It was decided to use both sections of the trail.

This decision had a three fold effect. The northern villages of Ruby, Galena and Nulato only had to deal with the large group of mushers, press, and volunteers every other year. The second effect was that the race was able to pass through the actual ghost town of Iditarod. Lastly, the villages of Shageluk, Anvik, and Grayling were able to participate in the race.

Don Bower’s Trail Notes

To read Don Bower’s notes on each leg of the race, click on any of the checkpoints listed in the tables below.

Northern Route

Checkpoints Distance between Checkpoints* Distance from Anchorage Distance to Nome
Total Distance 975
Anchorage to Campbell Airstrip  11  11 964
Willow to Yentna Station 42 53 922
Yentna Station to Skwentna 30 83 892
Skwentna to Finger Lake 40 123 852
Finger Lake to Rainy Pass 30 153 822
Rainy Pass to Rohn 35 188 787
Rohn to Nikolai 75 263 712
Nikolai to McGrath 48 311 664
McGrath to Takotna 18 329 646
Takotna to Ophir 23 352 623
Ophir to Cripple 73 425 550
Cripple to Ruby 70 495 480
Ruby to Galena 50 545 430
Galena to Nulato 37 582 393
Nulato to Kaltag 47 629 346
Kaltag to Unalakleet 85 714 261
Unalakleet to Shaktoolik 40 754 221
Shaktoolik to Koyuk 50 804 171
Koyuk to Elim 48 852 123
Elim to Golovin 28 880 95
Golovin to White Mountain 18 898 77
White Mountain to Safety 55 953 22
Safety to Nome 22 975 0

Southern Route

Checkpoints Distance between Checkpoints* Distance from Anchorage Distance to Nome
Total Distance 998
Anchorage to Campbell Airstrip 11 11 987
Willow to Yentna Station 42 53 945
Yentna Station to Skwentna 30 83 915
Skwentna to Finger Lake 40 123 875
Finger Lake to Rainy Pass 30 153 845
Rainy Pass to Rohn 35 188 810
Rohn to Nikolai 75 263 735
Nikolai to McGrath 48 311 687
McGrath to Takotna 18 329 669
Takotna to Ophir 23 352 646
Ophir to Iditarod 80 432 566
Iditarod to Shageluk 55 487 511
Shageluk to Anvik 25 512 486
Anvik to Grayling 18 530 468
Grayling to Eagle Island 62 592 406
Eagle Island to Kaltag 60 652 346
Kaltag to Unalakleet 85 737 261
Unalakleet to Shaktoolik 40 777 221
Shaktoolik to Koyuk 50 827 171
Koyuk to Elim 48 875 123
Elim to Golovin 28 903 95
Golovin to White Mountain 18 921 77
White Mountain to Safety 55 976 22
Safety to Nome 22 998 0

*PLEASE NOTE:  THESE DISTANCES ARE ESTIMATIONS AS THE ACTUAL TRAIL PLACEMENT CAN VARY FROM YEAR TO YEAR BASED ON CONDITIONS AND CAN EFFECT THE ACTUAL MILEAGE .