Tips for Watching the Start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race

The Race Begins – Tips for Watching

DO NOT bring your dog(s)!

There are two starts for Iditarod;

  1. Downtown Anchorage for the Ceremonial Race Start on March 2nd @ 10 am and,
  2. Race Re-Start Sunday, March 3rd @ 2 pm on Willow Lake. Parking is extremely limited in Willow so save yourself the hassle and take the shuttle!

We recommend going to the Willow starting March 3 @ 2 pm. There is an excitement in the air that the show start just doesn’t have. We highly recommend taking the shuttle from Wasilla as parking is almost non-existent in Willow. Here is the shuttle info.

If you live in Willow, consider driving your snowmachine over the restart.

To watch the Anchorage Ceremonial Race Start, we recommend avoiding the downtown start and heading to theCampbell Airstrip/Bicentennial Park – it’s the ending point of the restart & a great place to see the teams up close. From the parking lot, cross the bridge and you will be on the trail.

We recommend walking down the trail, especially in Willow, maybe even to the next lake over, and finding a spot along the trail. That way you can see the teams come by. The actual start line is very congested, several people deep.

Be prepared to stand in the snow and be outside all day. It can be nice and warm (30+) or it can be below zero.

  • Bring a couple of changes of socks, toe and hand warmers are great too.
  • Wear all your warmest clothes, it is very cold to stand around, even if the temps are “warm”.
  • If you bring camp chairs, bring blankets and warm drinks to help keep you warm.
  • Stay off the trail while the racers go by, they will be going fast!
  • Tailgate! It is an Alaskan tradition to tailgate during the Re-start. Bring over your gear, grill, and favorite snacks to watch the race start along the lake.

Other Tips

  • The newspaper prints the bib numbers so you can see who you are looking at.
  • There are usually food vendors at the community center but plan on being self-sufficient as where you’ll go to see the teams is very far away.

How to capture the Iditarod Start with your Camera

If you are like most sled dog fans, you want to relive the action of the race by taking photos and videos. As the old saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. We always have our iPhone 15 Pro in our pocket and it takes excellent photos and videos. If you want to really up your game we recommend a Canon 90D with a 70-200mm lens in F2.8 for those action shots and a 35-70mm for more close up photos.

If video is more your game, we recommend this cage for your phone and this microphone with a windscreen or what they call a “dead cat.” 

Be sure to share your photos and videos over on our Facebook page, we would love to see them!

Ways to Follow the Race Virtually