Wasilla is situated between the Matanuska and Susitna valleys of south-central Alaska, about 45 miles north of Anchorage.
There are traces of human habitation here going back several thousand years. First by the Dena’ina Alaska natives then the Russians in the 1700s. In 1917 the Alaska Railroad was extended to join with the Carle Wagon Road and Wasilla became the main supply center in the area. Over the past several years, it has been one of America’s fastest growing cities and is the fifth largest city in the state with a population of around 7000. Sarah Palin was Wasilla’s mayor before her election as Governor of Alaska from 2006 -2009.
Wasilla is also the headquarters for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race that is a commemoration of Alaska’s colorful past. The Iditarod Trail, which is now a national historical trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route. It began in the coastal towns of Seward and Knik and extended to the interior mining communities and beyond to the west coast villages. Mail and supplies went in, gold came out, all via dog sled.
The Wasilla Museum and Visitor Center showcases gold mining, Alaska wildlife, homesteading and dog mushing. The Visitor Center provides maps and information on the local stops and shops in and around town. Discover exhibits on gold mining, wildlife, homesteading and dog mushing. Visitors can view exciting traveling exhibitions, learn local history and wander through historic homes and buildings. The 1931 Community Building, the 1917 Herning Mercantile and the 1917 School House are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Wasilla Museum offers tours and events year-round. Check out their website, Facebook or Instagram for current listing of events and activities. Open year-round, Tuesday to Friday from 9am–5pm. www.cityofwasilla.com/departments-divisions/museum
Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce For a complete listing of events and activities in the Wasilla area check out our website. 415 E Railroad Ave. 907-376-1299 wasillachamber.org
The town of Wasilla was founded in 1917 and came into prominence when the Alaska Railroad was built to access the interior and resources of Alaska and in doing so served the Willow Creek Mining District. From 1907 until the mines were closed by the government during World War II, the district contributed to Alaska’s lode gold production. Most of the mining activity was focused in the area of the Little Susitna drainage, but the name “Willow Creek District” was retained from older usage, even though the mines in the Willow Creek drainage for the most part had been worked out or closed.At a time when gold was valued between $20 to $35 an ounce almost 18 million dollars worth of gold was extracted from mines with names like Gold Cord, Independence, Lucky Shot and War Baby.
Best Western Lake Lucille Inn is the Valley’s premier hotel. Located on Lake Lucille with breathtaking views of the Chugach Range; only 45 miles from Anchorage. They have meeting facilities, a fitness room, free Wi-fi, and an excellent breakfast bar.
Big Bear RV Park is family owned and operated. This clean and friendly campground is centrally located in the heart of the Mat-Su Valley just a few miles from both the cities of Palmer and Wasilla. The park has a total of 47 RV sites, 6 cabins, and 6 tent sites. Showers, WiFi, potable water, and a dump station are included with those staying.
Fifty-nine spaces for tents or RVs. This 80-acre park provides non-motorized lake access, a boardwalk and fishing deck, restrooms and drinking water, trails, day use area, fire pits, & group camping area. Is located at the end of Endeavor Street at mile 2.4 Knik-Goose Bay Road, south of Wasilla.
Finger Lake State Recreation Site is six miles from Palmer, Mile 1.5 Bogard Road, Wasilla. 36 campsites, 10 picnic sites, water, toilets, and a boat launch. Check Visitor Info Center for detailed maps.
The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry displays handmade autos, trains, snow machines, boats, military planes, and mining equipment. Learn about Alaska’s Pioneering women, gold mining, and aviation. Only four miles from downtown Wasilla.
View exciting traveling exhibits; learn local history and walk through time in historic homes and buildings. The Wasilla Museum and Visitor Center showcase gold mining, Alaska wildlife, homesteading, and dog mushing.
Wasilla is home to the Iditarod Headquarters, which features a museum, gift shop, and sled dog rides. Anchorage is the ceremonial starting line for this world-famous race, but after a short run to Eagle River, the race is restarted in Willow. Until 2003 the race was restarted in Wasilla, but due to urbanization and lack of snow, the restart was moved. Stop by the Headquarters to learn more about “The Last Great Race.”
Hatcher Pass is 18 miles north of Palmer, in the high mountain summits. Cabins left from the Gold Rush still rest on the summit of the highest peaks to the lowest areas of the valley. Summer activities include hiking, biking, camping & wildlife viewing.
You can reach Hatcher Pass on Palmer Fishhook Road, at Mile 49 of the Glenn Highway. The road is paved from Palmer to Hatcher Pass and accesses the very interesting Independence Mine State Historical Park.
Independence Mine State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass offers a preserved experience of what life was like back in the Gold Rush. Inside this historic mine, you’ll see displays about mining, natural history, and the story of Independence Mine. A guided tour will take you inside some of the mining camps’ historic buildings.
Located between Anchorage and Denali in Willow, Alaska. is home to the start of the Iditarod sled dog race and one of the largest populations of dog mushers per capita. Each spring, their team competes in Iditarod, Alaska’s world famous, thousand-mile race. Throughout the year, they welcome locals and visitors to meet the dogs, see how they train, and experience your own dog sledding adventure!
Wasilla Alaska is definitely worth visiting if you like big mountains, great trails, glaciers, fishing, or seeing wildlife. Wasilla is the hub for Alaska’s two most traveled highways. You can get to Anchorage via the Glenn Hwy or up to the Interior of Alaska (Fairbanks, Denali National Park) via the Parks Hwy.
Wasilla is part of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Mat-Su) and is surrounded by two prominent, awe-inspiring mountain ranges: The Chugach Mountain Range to the south and east, which includes Mat-Su’s signature Pioneer Peak, as well as Twin Peaks, Wolverine Peak, Lazy Mountain, and Matanuska Peak and to the north, the Talkeetna Mountain Range that includes Bald Mountain and Hatcher Pass known for its great hiking trails. As you drive towards Talkeetna, you’ll see the Alaska Range, home to Denali.
The largest accessible glacier, the Matanuska Glacier, is also accessible from Wasilla and our sister city Palmer.
What is Wasilla, Alaska, known for?
Wasilla, Alaska, is best known for its outdoor recreation. It is Alaska’s playground. People live here because of the year-round recreational opportunities. The best snow machining and cross-country skiing are here, and just north of Wasilla is Willow, the dog-mushing capital of Alaska.
The Iron Dog Snowmobile Race starts in Wasilla. The Iron Dog is the world’s longest snowmobile race covering 2000 miles to Nome and back again.
In the summertime, it is the hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing, and berry picking. Fall is for hunting, the state fair, long drives to see the fall colors, or testing out Alaska’s breweries. Hatcher Pass is nearby and this is a great destination for hiking and berry picking.
Is Wasilla a part of Anchorage?
Both Wasilla and Anchorage are considered part of Southcentral Alaska, but they are distinct cities in two different boroughs (like counties) 40 miles apart. Wasilla relies on Anchorage for things like the Ted Stevens International Airport, government jobs, and more cosmopolitan shopping, but Anchorage relies on Wasilla for recreational playing.
The Mat-Su region has a population of more than 100,000 people and is the fastest-growing area in Alaska.
Can you swim in Wasilla Lake?
Yes, you can swim in the 374-acre Wasilla Lake. Bring the family to Newcomb Park so the kids can play along the shoreline or on the playground equipment. It is a popular park on a sunny summer day, so get there early and bring a picnic lunch. It is in the center of Wasilla and right along the highway (891. E Parks Highway), so there is easy access. Also at the park are picnic tables, a pavilion that can be reserved, and restroom facilities. Consider kayaking or fishing from the bank as well.
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