Like many parts of Alaska, the Wasilla area was originally settled by the Dena'ina Athabascan Indians and is named after Chief Wasilla, a local Athabascan chief. The township itself was established in 1917, when the Alaska Railroad was built to create more access to the interior. It served as a gateway to the Willow Creek mining district, a mining area that produced roughly 18 million dollars worth of gold between 1907 and the 1950's. The Alaska pipeline brought in more residents in the 1970's and 80's, and Wasilla became one of the fastest growing cities for its size in the United States. Today, Wasilla is the commercial hub for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and has a population of just over 7,000.
Those visiting Wasilla will find plenty of things to see and do. Headquarters to the Iditarod Trail Committee and the re-start location for Alaska's famous Iditarod sled dog race, visitors can visit the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters at mile 2.2 Knik Goose Bay Road. Open year round, they offer dog sled rides and have a museum, gift shop and videos of past races.
Other activities in the area include various museums and historical sites, such as the Dorothy G. Page Museum and Visitors Center, the Museum of Alaska Transportation, the Wasilla Museum and the old Wasilla town site. Shopping and dining opportunities abound, with major retailers and restaurants occupying much of the main parts of town, as well as smaller local shops featuring art galleries, crafts from Alaskan sources and unique gifts. Big Lake and Nancy Lake recreation areas are nearby, with camping, fishing, boating and wildlife viewing.
Wasilla is located along Alaska's scenic Glenn Highway, less than an hours drive from Anchorage. It can be a great stopping point when enroute to other northern destinations, a day trip, or a fun way to spend a few days while in Alaska.
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