It’s a winter of extremes in the United States; everywhere, it seems, but Alaska. After a brilliant start to our longest season, winter seems to have deserted the Last Frontier for southern climates, leaving 49th state residents scratching their heads in disbelief.
In the case of Iditarod 2014, however, head-scratching is being followed by a gnashing of teeth. If you missed our Facebook page announcement over the weekend, here’s the scoop, and what you can do about it:
1. The Iditarod Race Committee is peering through its crystal ball, hoping, praying, and wondering if sections of trail will improve near the start, particularly over tricky Rainy Pass. While the Ceremonial Start is still scheduled for Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, Iditarod 2014 could potentially be moved for the Re-Start, typically staged in Willow 80+ miles to the north.
2. IF the Re-Start is re-scheduled, re-worked, and re-done, it will occur in Fairbanks. Fairbanks? Yep. It’s been done once before, in 2003, when similar conditions prevailed. Teams would travel along Chena, Tanana, and Yukon rivers, reconnect with the trail to Nome, and thus finish the race with usual fanfare. Big note, however: the Re-Start would occur on Monday, March 3!
Needless to say, this could potentially cause some confusion relating to transportation, hotels, and access to the trail. While we recommend families attend the Ceremonial Start, given its party atmosphere, easier access to urban trail viewing, and kid-friendly responses from mushers, the Re-Start is a must-do event if the Iditarod is on your bucket list. Here is what AKontheGO recommends:
- Make hotel arrangements now in Fairbanks. You can always cancel. Try Hampton Inn, Pike’s Lodge, or Alpine Lodge. All offer family-friendly rates and spaces to accommodate kids. The Hampton has a great swimming pool, too.
- Consider flying. Alaskans, use your Mileage Plan miles; it’s easy. If you must drive, allow an entire day to get from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and be prepared for any emergency, ranging from flat tires to slippery conditions. Pack food, water, warm clothing, and a shovel. If renting, consider a four-wheel drive car.
- Try the train/plane. The Aurora Winter Train is one of our favorite ways to see Alaska, and while it takes 12 hours from Anchorage to Fairbanks, the Alaska Railroad does a great job of providing a comfortable, safe route north. Plus, the views are to die for. NOTE: AKRR offers service to Fairbanks once a week, north on Saturday. However, they also offer special ride/fly packages, which work nicely with the Iditarod’s potential schedule.
- Take advantage of winter fun. The Running Reindeer Ranch, Fairbanks Children’s Museum, Sirius Sled Dogs, and the world famous Ice Alaska festival are excellent options for family fun before or after Iditarod 2014.
Need more information? Shoot us an email – AKontheGO is always glad to help! firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit the wonderful folks at Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau; a beautiful visitor center, helpful volunteers, and tons of information, this is a great place to begin any Interior Alaska adventure.
Iditarod 2014 could be the best year yet – just plan for a flexible schedule, and mush on.