Dorothy Page Museum and Historical Park
While you’re in Wasilla make sure to visit Dorothy Page Museum and Historical Park (907/373-9071, www.cityofwasilla.com/museum, Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Apr.–Sept., Wed.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Oct.–Mar., $3 adults, children under 13 free) on Main Street just off the Parks Highway. The museum houses historical photos, artifacts from early settlers and the Iditarod, plus interesting downstairs exhibits of the mining era, including a diorama of Independence Mine.
The adjacent old town-site park contains a schoolhouse, a bunkhouse, a smokehouse, a steam bath, a blacksmith shop, and a cache. Just up the street is Teeland’s Store (1917), one of the oldest buildings in Alaska. Today the beautifully restored structure houses a sandwich shop.
Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry
About four miles north of town at Mile 47, take a left at the sign and head 0.75 miles down to the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry (907/376-1211, www.museumofalaska.org, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. May–Sept., closed Oct.–Apr., $8 adults, $5 seniors and youths, children under 3 free, $18 families). This museum houses an extensive collection of antiques relating to Alaskan aviation, railroading, fishing, mining, and road transportation.
Take a gander at the “Chitina auto railer,” an old car built to run on rail tracks. Outside are wooden boats, farm machinery (much of it still running), ancient snowmobiles, and several rail cars.
Alaska Live Steamers
Just beyond the museum is Alaska Live Steamers (907/373-6412, www.alaskalivesteam.org, $4), a scale-model railroad that takes families through the forest, over bridges, and through tunnels on summer weekends. It’s a good place to meet people living out their model railroad dreams from childhood. Trains run on weekends 10 a.m.–4 p.m. June–mid-September.
Knik Museum (907/376-7755, Thurs.–Sun. 1–6 p.m. June–Aug., $2) is 14 miles from Wasilla out on Knik Road. Housed in a century-old building, it exhibits items from the Knik gold rush of 1897–1917 and the Iditarod Trail.
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters
Wasilla is the headquarters for the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome. The headquarters (907/376-5155 or 800/545-6874, www.iditarod.com, daily 8 a.m.–7 p.m. mid-May–mid-Sept., Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m. mid-Sept.–mid-May) includes a log museum containing race memorabilia, Native Alaskan artifacts, videos, and dog-mushing equipment. Also here is Togo, the stuffed sled dog who led Leonhard Seppala’s team during the 1925 serum delivery to Nome. Find Togo and friends two miles out on Knik Road. Admission is free, though a fee is charged to go for a ride on a wheeled dogsled.
Lakeshore Park at Wasilla Lake right off the highway has swimming (not too cold), picnic tables, and a view of the craggy Chugach Mountains—a great place to set up your tripod. A less crowded day-use lake area is at Kepler-Bradley Lakes just beyond the junction of the Parks and Glenn Highways, on the Glenn Highway toward Palmer.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition