My Public Lands Roadtrip: Iditarod National Historic Trail in Alaska
While the Iditarod National Historic Trail is best known for dog mushing, a century ago more people walked on the winter trail than used a dogsled. Shipments of gold and mail frequented the trail for the decade before WWI, but unless you had your own sleddog team or $180 dollars for a one way ride (big money at time when the going wage was $2.00 dollars a day), you walked!
The walk was made possible by a system of roadhouses and shelter cabins located about a day’s journey apart—20 to 30 miles, and wooden tripods to mark the trail over treeless tundra. The typical journey was 20 to 25 days between the gold rush town of Iditarod and one of the tidewater ports on the southcentral coast of Alaska.
Today the trail is still in use as an overland travel route between Alaskan communities, and as a venue for modern-day adventurers testing their mettle in some of the wildest country in North America: www.iditarodtrailinvitational.com, www.iditarod.com, www.irondog.org). Shelter cabins still provide refuge for trail travelers, and tripods still mark the way across the winter landscape, all maintained in partnerships between volunteers and public land managers.