The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has had quite the journey since the first race to Nome took place in 1973. Many obstacles have tried to keep what is known as ‘The Last Great Race On Earth’ from happening, but as the old saying goes; “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” So even though unpredictable weather conditions have pushed the start of the 2017 Iditarod all the way up to Fairbanks, we couldn’t help but relive some of the most stunning moments along the historic route. Be sure to stay tuned to the upcoming 2017 Iditarod by checking out the official countdown clock
The Iditarod Trail is also known historically as the 'Seward-to-Nome Trail' and was once heavily used by homesteaders, Native Alaskans and those coming to the 49th state as a part of the notorious gold rush.
The full length of this trail is over 1,000 miles and is a mix of historic trials and contemporary maintained trails.
Below is the official northern map of the historic Iditarod trail.
During the earlier years of the Iditarod, the northern route was the only one used by mushers.
Below is the official southern map of the historic Iditarod trail.
After several years, the Iditarod race started to rotate between the northern and southern route every other year. This change helped distribute the Iditarod attention more comfortably among small villages along the way. It helped alleviate stress from the Iditarod off of communities like Ruby, Galena and Nulato. It also helped the villages of Shageluk, Anvik and Grayling as they were now able to participate in the race fun.
The start of the Iditarod kicking off on a bright and early March morning before the sun even rises and the moon is still out.
Crowds gather in downtown Anchorage to soak in all of the athlete action and to gush over all of the beautiful dogs.
The crowds in Anchorage line the streets and cover balconies and rooftops as far as the eyes can see.
After the dogs get all geared up (with two sets of running shoes each), they take off and the crowds go wild with cheer.
Head out to Alaska's Mat-Su Valley and make your way to the town of Willow.
You'll be flabbergasted by all the energy these happy dogs have at the Ceremonial Start in Willow.
You can't miss the idyllic Skwentna Roadhouse on the way to your next stop.
4. Finger Lake
A stunning aerial view shows a mushing team crossing a frozen path at Finger Lake.
5. Rainy Pass
Sled dog team comes in nice and sharp around a tough turn at Rainy Pass.
A summertime look at the winding river valley around the village of Nikolai.
A piercing sunrise from the village of McGrath is more powerful than we can put into words.
The isolated village of Ruby looking absolutely picturesque during the late spring months.
Along the way between Kaltag and Unalakleet you'll see mushers passing the Old Woman Shelter Cabin along the historic Iditarod Trail.
All you have to do is wake up in time for the sunrise in order to see a million dollar view in Unalakleet.
The tiny village with a population around 250 residents sure is filled with natural beauty.
In Elim, mushers along the historic Iditarod Trail get to soak in epic sunsets that paint the sky over the Bering Sea.
This area is home to a tiny village with around 150 year-round residents. Off the grid never looked so good!
The Safety roadhouse checkpoint looks a lot different during the summer months after all the snow and ice melts, but don't let these simple flatland's fool you. The stretch between the village of White Mountain and Safety is one of the most dangerous stretches along the route. When the wind picks up and a storm starts brewing, this stretch is straight up hellacious.
15. Bering Sea
But when the weather is calm and clear, this stretch of the race outside of Safety is absolutely the epitome of picturesque.
For the mushing community, crossing the Iditarod finish line in the city of Nome is one of the greatest accomplishments of their lifetime. For us crazy-obsessed viewers, we also tend to go pretty nuts when we see our favorite teams cross that historic finish line.
17. Nome 2.0
After days on end spent weathering the storm, the Iditarod athletes take some much deserved (and totally adorable) R&R in the city of Nome.
If you want to learn more about the Iditarod, be sure to check out the short and sweet summary on the YouTube video below.