Alternative Spring Break - Nome for Iditarod

While a lot of people used their Spring Break time to travel to much warmer climates and relax on the beaches, I wound up going to Nome, Alaska. Most people would probably choose this as their last destination for their spring vacation time, but a lot of people are unaware that it hosts the finish of the Iditarod – the annual 1,049 mile sled dog race we have here in Alaska.

The race has a mock start in Anchorage but actually begins in Willow and has two different routes to Nome – alternating every year. Each musher starts off with a team of 16 dogs and usually end up at the finish in roughly 9-15 days. They are forced to race through blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and gale-force winds – much energy and preparation is put in year round for each of these amazing athletes.

If you haven’t ever partaken in any of the Iditarod-related festivities, you’re missing out. There is an enormous crowd in downtown Anchorage that shows up for the start of the race each year. There is a chaotic mass of people and dogs all exuding excitement in anticipation for the race to begin. Soon they’re off and on their way to Nome.

Nome is usually fairly depleted in its inhabitants, at least compared to the major hotspots of Alaska, but during Iditarod time it is filled with people, both locals from all over Alaska and foreigners from all over the world to partake in the amazing event. During the day the town is usually empty of people, with the exception of when the horn blows signaling the arrival of a musher. However, during the evenings all of the people in the town are out and about at the restaurant and entertainment areas all celebrating together, anxious for their favorite musher(s) to arrive.

I always have an absolutely amazing time there; with all of the friends and family I’m with, the great food we make, the activities we participate in, and the excitement in welcoming our mushers’ home. It really is an amazing experience, full of culture and history, and one I would very much recommend to anyone in search of an authentic Alaskan celebration.

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