Sunday, June 23, 2024

Iditarod Trail Info | Map

Iditarod Trail Map | Iditarod Checkpoint Info | Iditarod Fly-out

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is run in the middle section on an annual alternating northern and southern route around the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge. In even-numbered years, participants must complete the northern route; in odd-numbered years, since 1977, they must complete the southern route. Other than alternating routes, the course layout has changed only slightly since it was first held in 1973. Major changes have been the introduction of the restart and the change from Ptarmigan to Rainy Pass.

As a result of these changes, the effective length of the route also varies. Officially, the actual length of the northern route includes 1112 miles (1790 km) and the southern 1131 miles (1820 km). However, often the length is given as 1049 miles in allusion to the fact that Alaska is the 49th state of the United States. However, this is of only secondary importance to the actual course of the race, as the mushers are free to travel between the individual checkpoints.

Along the route to Nome there are 26 (northern route) and 27 (southern route) checkpoints, where the mushers have to report with their teams and where they can fill up their provisions, have a rest or change sleds. Otherwise, the route choice is free. Once each participant must take a break of 24 hours, twice one of eight hours. This is to prevent the dogs from being overworked. The health of the animals is also constantly checked by veterinarians. 

Our Iditarod Tour Packages
"Iditarod Chase the Race" and "Iditarod and Northern Lights Tour" take Iditarod fans to Rainy Pass and Nikolai Checkpoints.

Courtesy & Copyright: Iditarod Trail Committee


Iditarod Trail - Iditarod Sled Dog Race Wilderness Checkpoints

  • (1) Anchorage - Ceremonial start, Saturday
  • (2) Willow - Race restart, Sunday
  • (3) Skwentna - All mushers hit this checkpoint at the junction of Skwentna and Yentna rivers the first night of the race. As many as 40 teams may campe here.
  • (4) Finger Lake - After Finger Lake comes the treacherous descent down Happy River Gorge.
  • (5) Rainy Pass - At 3,771 feet, the highest point on the trail. The actual checkpoint is on Puntilla Lake.
  • (6) Rohn - Was an original Iditarod roadhouse for dog teams carrying mail. The Roadhouse is gone, replaced by a cabin built in the 1930s.
  • (7) Nikolai - Village of about 100 people at end of bumpy 75-mile run across the Farewell Burn
  • (8) McGrath - One of the larger communities (population 347) and transport hub
  • (9) Takotna - Pretty, welcoming village known for its fresh pies. Favored spot to take the 24-hour layover.
  • (10) Ophir - Ghost town.
  • (11) Iditarod - Abandoned mining town halfway along southern route. First musher here gets $3,000 in gold.
  • (12) Shageluk - Open water on the trail from Iditarod can be a problem. 507 miles to Nome.
  • (13) Anvik - First checkpoint on the Yukon River, which mushers follow for 148 miles.
  • (14) Grayling - Last village until mushers reach Kaltag, 130 miles upriver. Population 194.
  • (15) Eagle Island - Ralph Conaster's cabin is the only dwelling here. Fierce headwinds often slow mushers.
  • (16) Kaltag - Mushers leave Yukon River at village of 230.
  • (17) Unalakleet - The biggest town (population 747) between Anchorage and Nome and the first on Norton Sound
  • (18) Shaktoolik - Hurricane-velocity winds and ground blizzards can cut visibility to zero quickly. Trail crosses Norton Sound to Koyuk.
  • (19) Koyuk - Once to Koyuk, the rest of the trail is over land. Just 171 miles to Nome.
  • (20) Elim - Checkpoint normally sheltered from the wind
  • (21) Golovin - Trail runs straight for 10 of the 18 miles to White Mountain, then crosses Fish River delta.
  • (22) White Mountain - Mushers take final mandatory rest here, an eight-hour stop. 77 miles to Nome.
  • (23) Safety - Last check, 22 miles from finish.
  • (24) Nome - Finishing line - end of race