12 Attractions in Wasilla, Alaska

Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Wasilla is a vibrant city located in southcentral Alaska, about 40 miles north of Anchorage. With its small-town charm and abundance of natural beauty, Wasilla has become a popular tourist destination in Alaska. Though not as large as Anchorage, Wasilla still offers visitors plenty of things to see and do.

No.AttractionBrief Description
1Hatcher PassPopular for outdoor activities with stunning views.
2Iditarod Trail Sled Dog RaceIconic sled dog race passing through Wasilla.
3Independence Mine State Historical ParkPreserves an abandoned 1940s gold mine.
4Musk Ox FarmA farm showcasing these unique arctic animals.
5Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports CenterA complex offering various indoor recreational activities.
6Iditarod TrailHistoric trail offering year-round outdoor activities.
7Nancy Lake State Recreation AreaA natural area ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
8Iditarod Air Force MuseumFocuses on WWII air combat history in Alaska.
9Alaska Garden WorksA garden center famous for its lush gardens.
10Palmer Museum of History & ArtShowcases the history of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
11Fountainhead Antique Auto MuseumDisplays rare and iconic vehicles.
12Winterlake LodgeOffers lodging and sporting opportunities in nature.

From exploring the great outdoors to learning about local history and culture, Wasilla has something for everyone. Keep reading to discover 12 of the top attractions that you must visit when travelling to Wasilla, Alaska.

Hatcher Pass

Name and Location: Hatcher Pass is a scenic mountain pass located in the Talkeetna Mountains of Alaska, about 60 miles north of Anchorage. The pass is situated between the towns of Willow and Palmer, and is accessible via the Hatcher Pass Road.

History and Significance: Hatcher Pass has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s when gold was discovered in the area. The pass was named after Robert Hatcher, a prospector who staked the first claims in the region. During the 1930s, the area was home to several gold mines, including the Independence Mine, which was one of the largest gold producers in Alaska. Today, the pass is known for its stunning natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and historical significance.

What to Expect: Visitors to Hatcher Pass can expect to be greeted by breathtaking scenery, including rugged mountains, pristine valleys, and alpine tundra. The pass is a popular destination for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. In the winter, the area is a favorite among skiers and snowboarders, with several ski areas located nearby. The pass is also home to the Independence Mine State Historical Park, which offers guided tours and exhibits on the area’s mining history.

Visitor Information: Hatcher Pass is open year-round, although some roads may be closed during the winter months due to snow. Visitors can access the pass via the Hatcher Pass Road, which is a narrow, winding road that can be challenging to navigate in inclement weather. There are several campgrounds and lodges located in the area, as well as a visitor center that provides information on the pass’s history and natural features. Visitors should come prepared for changing weather conditions and bring appropriate gear for their intended activities.

Hatcher Pass is one of the most popular recreation areas near Wasilla for both locals and visitors. At an elevation of over 3,500 feet, Hatcher Pass provides access to stunning alpine scenery, incredible views of the Talkeetna Mountains, and plenty of year-round outdoor recreation. In the winter, the pass is a prime destination for backcountry skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

Come summer, people flock to Hatcher Pass to hike the numerous trails that wind through flower-filled meadows with panoramic vistas, pick berries, fish for trout, climb the surrounding peaks and much more. One of the most iconic and photographed spots in the pass is the old Independence Mine buildings, giving you a captivating glimpse into Alaska’s gold mining history.

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Name and Location: The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long-distance sled dog race that takes place in Alaska. The race starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome, covering a distance of approximately 1,000 miles.

History and Significance: The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was first held in 1973 as a way to preserve the sled dog culture and the historical Iditarod Trail, which was used to transport mail and supplies to remote villages in Alaska. The race has since become a beloved Alaskan tradition and attracts mushers and spectators from around the world. The Iditarod is known as “The Last Great Race on Earth” and is considered one of the most challenging and grueling races in the world.

What to Expect: The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race typically takes place in early March and lasts for several weeks. The race follows a historic trail that passes through some of Alaska’s most remote and rugged terrain, including forests, tundra, and mountain passes. Mushers and their teams of sled dogs must navigate the trail while enduring extreme weather conditions, including sub-zero temperatures, high winds, and whiteout conditions. The race is a true test of endurance, skill, and teamwork between the mushers and their dogs.

Visitor Information: Visitors to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race can witness the excitement of the race in several locations along the trail, including the ceremonial start in Anchorage and the official restart in Willow. Spectators can also follow the progress of the race online or attend events and festivities in Nome, where the race finishes. Visitors should be prepared for cold weather and have appropriate gear, including warm clothing and footwear. It is also important to respect the mushers, dogs, and race officials and to follow all rules and regulations related to the event.

Known as “The Last Great Race on Earth,” the world-famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an iconic Alaskan event that passes right through Wasilla every March. Mushers and their teams of sled dogs brave extreme Arctic conditions along the historic 1,000-mile Iditarod trail from Anchorage to Nome. Wasilla serves as the midpoint checkpoint of the race and the official restart location after a 24-hour layover.

Visitors can watch in awe as these skilled mushers and their athletic dogs pour into the Wasilla checkpoint, get checked by veterinarians, and rest before embarking on the second half of the race. Whether you want to catch the fanfare and excitement of the race restart, see sled dogs up close, learn about the history of the iconic trail, or meet mushing legends like Lance Mackey and Dallas Seavey, be sure to include the Iditarod festivities as part of your Wasilla itinerary in March.

Independence Mine State Historical Park

Name and Location: Independence Mine State Historical Park is located in the Talkeetna Mountains of Alaska, about 60 miles north of Anchorage. The park is situated at the top of Hatcher Pass and is accessible via the Hatcher Pass Road.

History and Significance: Independence Mine State Historical Park was once the site of a thriving gold mining operation that began in the early 1900s. The mine was one of the largest gold producers in Alaska, with over 140,000 ounces of gold extracted between 1938 and 1942. The mine closed in 1951, but the buildings and equipment remain as a testament to the area’s rich mining history. Today, the park is a popular destination for visitors interested in learning about Alaska’s gold rush era.

What to Expect: Visitors to Independence Mine State Historical Park can explore the remains of the gold mining operation, including the mine manager’s house, bunkhouses, and other historic buildings. The park offers guided tours that provide insight into the daily lives of the miners and the challenges they faced working in the harsh Alaskan environment. Visitors can also hike the nearby trails, which offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. In the winter, the park is a popular destination for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Visitor Information: Independence Mine State Historical Park is open year-round, although some facilities may be closed during the winter months. The park is accessible via the Hatcher Pass Road, which can be challenging to navigate in inclement weather. Visitors should come prepared for changing weather conditions and bring appropriate gear for their intended activities. The park has a visitor center that provides information on the area’s history and natural features, as well as a gift shop and restroom facilities. There are also several picnic areas and a campground located nearby.

Located just 16 miles from Wasilla within Hatcher Pass, Independence Mine State Historical Park preserves an abandoned 1940s gold mine and its various derelict buildings. Visitors to the park can take self-guided walking tours to explore the old mine site structures, including the main office, manager’s house, bunkhouses, and more.

The harsh Alaskan winters caused extensive damage over time, creating an eerie ghost town vibe. But informational signs help you vividly picture what life was like for the miners back in the mining heyday. To complement the striking structures, Independence Mine SHP also features scenic hiking trails, abundant wildflowers in summer, and panoramic views of the Talkeetna Mountains and surrounding valleys that will take your breath away.

Musk Ox Farm

Name and Location: The Musk Ox Farm is located in Palmer, Alaska, about 45 miles north of Anchorage. The farm is situated on a 75-acre property in the Matanuska Valley, surrounded by the Chugach Mountains.

History and Significance: The Musk Ox Farm was established in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the domestication of the musk ox, a large, shaggy-haired mammal native to the Arctic tundra. The farm was founded by John Teal, who believed that the musk ox could be a valuable source of wool and meat for Alaska’s indigenous communities. Today, the farm is home to a herd of over 80 musk oxen and is a popular tourist destination for visitors interested in learning about these unique animals.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Musk Ox Farm can take a guided tour of the farm and learn about the history and biology of the musk ox. The tours include a visit to the barns where the animals are housed, as well as a chance to see the musk oxen up close in their outdoor enclosures. Visitors can also learn about the process of harvesting and spinning the soft, warm wool of the musk ox, known as qiviut. The farm has a gift shop that sells a variety of qiviut products, including hats, scarves, and sweaters.

Visitor Information: The Musk Ox Farm is open to visitors from Mother’s Day weekend through mid-September. Tours are offered several times a day, and reservations are recommended. The farm is located off the Glenn Highway in Palmer and is easily accessible by car. Visitors should be prepared for cool, damp weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. The farm is family-friendly and offers a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer offers locals and visitors to Wasilla alike a truly unique opportunity to observe and learn about these shaggy Ice Age animals up-close. Due to hunting, musk oxen had been virtually extinct from Alaska since the late 1800s until an effort to reintroduce them began in the 1950s. Today, the Musk Ox Farm near Wasilla houses a domestic herd that cannot be released into the Alaska wilderness.

At the farm, you can take educational tours to admire and photograph these majestic creatures from viewing platforms and learn about their history, significance to indigenous cultures, adaptation to extreme arctic climates, and more. For an additional hands-on experience, you can book their infamous “Musk Ox Encounter” session and pet these woolly beasts right over the fence!

Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center

Name and Location: The Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center is located in Wasilla, Alaska, about 45 miles north of Anchorage. The sports center is situated on a 100-acre property and is owned and operated by the City of Wasilla.

History and Significance: The Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center was built in 1985 and is named after Curtis D. Menard, a former mayor of Wasilla who was instrumental in the development of the city’s parks and recreation facilities. The sports center has since become a popular destination for local athletes and visitors alike, offering a wide range of indoor and outdoor recreational activities.

What to Expect: The Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center features a variety of sports and recreational facilities, including an indoor ice arena, a basketball court, a running track, a weight room, and a climbing wall. The center also has an outdoor soccer field, baseball and softball fields, and a playground. In addition to open recreational use, the sports center hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, and athletic camps and clinics.

Visitor Information: The Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center is open year-round, with varying hours depending on the season and scheduled events. The center is located off the Parks Highway in Wasilla and is easily accessible by car. Visitors can purchase day passes or memberships to use the facilities, and rental equipment is available for some activities. The center also has a concession stand and locker rooms for visitor convenience.


For indoor recreation and entertainment, the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center is a top-rated attraction in Wasilla perfect for both kids and adults. Known to locals simply as “The Menard,” this massive complex houses a NHL regulation-sized ice rink for hockey and figure skating, a 6-lane bowling alley, an indoor tennis facility, indoor water park featuring a lazy river and slides, full gymnasium, arcade game room, and more all under one roof.

Visitors can spend hours having fun at Menard’s, especially on cold or rainy Alaska days when outdoor activities get sidelined. They also frequently host events like craft fairs, concerts, hockey tournaments that both residents and visitors enjoy attending.

Iditarod Trail

Name and Location: The Iditarod Trail is a network of trails that spans over 2,300 miles across Alaska, from Seward to Nome. The trail passes through a variety of landscapes, including forests, tundra, and mountain ranges, and connects several remote villages and communities along the way.

History and Significance: The Iditarod Trail has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s, when it was used as a transportation route for gold miners, trappers, and mail carriers. The trail played a crucial role in the development of Alaska’s interior, providing a vital link between remote communities and the outside world. Today, the trail is best known as the route of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which takes place every March and attracts mushers and spectators from around the world.

What to Expect: The Iditarod Trail offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. The trail passes through some of Alaska’s most remote and rugged terrain, offering stunning views of mountains, glaciers, and wildlife. Visitors can explore the trail on their own or take guided tours and excursions. The trail is also home to several historic sites and landmarks, including old mining camps, roadhouses, and Native Alaskan villages.

Visitor Information: The Iditarod Trail is open year-round, although some sections may be impassable during certain times of the year due to weather conditions. Visitors should be prepared for challenging terrain and extreme weather, and should have appropriate gear and supplies for their intended activities. There are several access points along the trail, including trailheads in Seward, Anchorage, and Nome. Visitors can also access the trail from several remote villages and communities along the way. It is important to respect the land and the wildlife along the trail, and to follow all rules and regulations related to its use.

While most associate the iconic Iditarod Trail with the famous sled dog race, the historic trail itself offers year-round recreation opportunities near Wasilla for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more. Various access points and sections of the trail can be found within Wasilla city limits.

In the summer, test your cycling legs or hike a portion of the historic Iditarod National Historic Trail. Come winter, snowmobile along groomed portions around Wasilla and experience sled dog teams training for the big race in March. No matter when you venture out, the beauty of the Alaska backcountry shining through while traveling on this legendary trail is unforgettable.

Nancy Lake State Recreation Area

Name and Location: Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is located in Willow, Alaska, about 67 miles north of Anchorage. The recreation area covers over 22,000 acres and is situated in the Susitna Valley, surrounded by the Talkeetna Mountains.

History and Significance: Nancy Lake State Recreation Area was established in 1966 to provide recreational opportunities for Alaskans and visitors alike. The area is named after Nancy Lake, one of over 130 lakes and ponds that dot the landscape. The recreation area is known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and wide range of outdoor activities.

What to Expect: Nancy Lake State Recreation Area offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, boating, and camping. The area features several trails that wind through forests and wetlands, offering views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Visitors can fish for rainbow trout, arctic char, and grayling in the lakes and streams, or paddle a canoe or kayak through the interconnected lake system. The recreation area also has several campgrounds and cabins available for overnight stays.

Visitor Information: Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is open year-round, although some facilities may be closed during the winter months. The recreation area is located off the Parks Highway in Willow and is easily accessible by car. Visitors can purchase day-use passes or camping permits at the entrance station or at the Alaska State Parks office in Anchorage. The recreation area has several picnic areas, restroom facilities, and a boat launch for visitor convenience. It is important to follow all rules and regulations related to the use of the area, including camp fire restrictions and wildlife safety guidelines.

Just a short 10-minute drive from downtown Wasilla lies Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, an outdoor lover’s paradise. This large protected area encompasses Nancy Lake and provides access to over 25 miles of scenic walking, hiking and biking trails that wind through boreal forests dotted with birch and spruce trees.

Visitors flock to Nancy Lake SRA to canoe and kayak across the shimmering glacier-fed Nancy Lake, a tranquil place to paddle and spot moose feeding along shorelines. Late August through September offers prime fishing for stocked rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and more on the lake. There are also various campgrounds within the SRA that serve as excellent bases to enjoy an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities found right outside Wasilla city limits.

Iditarod Air Force Museum

Name and Location: The Iditarod Air Force Museum is located in Wasilla, Alaska, about 45 miles north of Anchorage. The museum is situated on the grounds of the Wasilla Airport and is housed in a historic hangar building.

History and Significance: The Iditarod Air Force Museum was established in 1984 to preserve the history of aviation in Alaska, with a particular focus on the role of aircraft in supporting the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The museum is named after the “Iditarod Air Force,” a group of volunteer pilots who have flown supplies and personnel to remote checkpoints along the Iditarod Trail since the race’s inception in 1973. The museum’s collection includes historic aircraft, photographs, and artifacts related to the Iditarod and Alaska’s aviation history.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Iditarod Air Force Museum can explore a collection of vintage aircraft, including several planes that have flown the Iditarod Trail. The museum also features exhibits on the history of the Iditarod race, the role of aviation in Alaska’s development, and the challenges of flying in the state’s remote and rugged terrain. Visitors can take a guided tour of the museum or explore the exhibits on their own. The museum also hosts special events throughout the year, including fly-ins and aviation seminars.

Visitor Information: The Iditarod Air Force Museum is open year-round, with varying hours depending on the season. The museum is located on the grounds of the Wasilla Airport and is easily accessible by car. Visitors can park in the designated lot and walk to the museum entrance. Admission to the museum is free, although donations are accepted to support its operations and programs. The museum is family-friendly and offers a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Aviation enthusiasts visiting Wasilla should be sure to make a stop at the Iditarod Air Force Museum, located on the nearby Iditarod Industrial Trading Post Historical Site. This one-of-a-kind museum focuses on preserving the little-known WWII air combat history of Interior Alaska along the Northwest Staging Route through Canada and Alaska.

Here you can explore detailed exhibits and displays depicting Wasilla’s strategic role with Ladd Army Airfield which served as the primary transfer point for thousands of American fighter planes being delivered to Russia. Other exhibits showcase bush pilots and the significant role aviation has played in Alaska’s history and development. Visitors of all ages enjoy learning about Alaska’s unique aviation history at this gem of a museum near Wasilla.

Alaska Garden Works

Name and Location: Alaska Garden Works is located in Palmer, Alaska, about 42 miles north of Anchorage. The garden center is situated on a 5-acre property in the heart of the Matanuska Valley, known for its rich agricultural heritage.

History and Significance: Alaska Garden Works was founded in 1995 by Mark and Karen Giauque, who wanted to provide high-quality plants and gardening supplies to the local community. The garden center has since become a beloved destination for gardeners and plant enthusiasts from across the state, offering a wide selection of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and gardening accessories. Alaska Garden Works is also known for its commitment to sustainable and organic gardening practices, and for its support of local farmers and producers.

What to Expect: Visitors to Alaska Garden Works can explore a vast selection of plants and gardening supplies, including native and adapted species well-suited to Alaska’s unique growing conditions. The garden center features several greenhouses and outdoor display gardens, showcasing the beauty and diversity of Alaska’s flora. Visitors can also attend workshops and classes on topics such as plant care, soil management, and organic gardening techniques. The garden center has a gift shop that sells garden-themed merchandise, including tools, décor, and books.

Visitor Information: Alaska Garden Works is open seasonally, typically from mid-April through September. The garden center is located off the Old Glenn Highway in Palmer and is easily accessible by car. Visitors can park in the designated lot and explore the greenhouses and display gardens on their own or with the assistance of knowledgeable staff. The garden center also offers delivery and installation services for larger plant purchases. Visitors should be prepared for cool and damp weather, and wear comfortable walking shoes suitable for outdoor terrain.

Calling all garden lovers! No trip to Wasilla is complete without visiting Alaska Garden Works, a quaint plant nursery that is gaining fame for its stunningly lush gardens. Listed consistently as one of the top attractions in Wasilla, this family-owned garden center allows visitors to explore numerous display gardens showcasing over 400 different perennials that actually thrive in Alaska’s cold climate.

Wander through fragrant flowering beds,Levels of word counter scrub charming cottage gardens, impressive rock gardens flowing with water features, a zen-inspired Japanese garden sure to relax both body and mind. Beyond the lush gardens, Alaska Garden Works also sells many of these perfectly perennial varieties along with unique garden art so you can take a little piece of their creativity back home. Open May through September, the peak flowering season here is simply magical.

Palmer Museum of History & Art


The charming agricultural community of Palmer sits just 20 minutes from Wasilla and houses the wonderful Palmer Museum of History & Art. This small but impressive museum provides visitors a comprehensive look at the unique history and cultural heritage of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley from prehistoric times through pioneering colony days right up to present.

Historic exhibits showcase Native Alaskans like the Dena’ina Athabascans and their subsistence living in the region for 1000’s of years before new settlers arrived in the 1930s as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal program to start farming communities and land colonization across unpopulated territories.

Other exhibits profile the lives of homesteaders through intriguing artifacts and stories that highlight the challenges faced when settling this untamed land. The museum also regularly features talented local artists and has an onsite art studio. After exploring the museums various galleries, take a relaxing stroll around their scenic nature trails wandering through wildflower meadows.

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Listed as one of Alaska’s “must-see” attractions on many travel sites, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum is conveniently located right off the Parks Highway in Wasilla for visitors and auto enthusiasts alike. This privately owned museum displays over 85 rare and iconic vehicles from a bygone era, including Lincolns, Pierce Arrows, classic Dodge Power Wagons, and more.

Each antique auto featured aims to preserve the early days of motorized vehicles that helped revolutionize transportation in America. Visitors will appreciate the sheer artistry and styling of yesteryear’s vehicles, as well as learning tidbits of how pioneer Alaska settlers incorporated cars and trucks into taming remote wild lands during territorial days as these rolling works of art transitioned from luxury to necessity.

Iditarod Trailhead

As the “official hometown” of the iconic Iditarod sled dog race every March, locals and tourists congregate for the fanfare associated with the race restarting in Wasilla after a mandatory 24-hour layover. Mushers and their dog team’s cross under boughs of spruce and fir trees to begin their second leg of the 1000-mile journey to Nome.

Visitors to Wasilla can check out this popular race restart location and pose for pictures all year by visiting the official Iditarod Trailhead statue installed downtown. This bronze sculpture captures the power and beauty of Alaska’s sled dog teams mid-motion with full dog mushing gear on display as well. Interpretive signs nearby also summize the rich history of the historic Iditarod Trail and the key role Wasilla has played in this legendary race since 1973.

Three Bears Alaska


Delight both kids and kids-at-heart with a visit to Three Bears Alaska in Wasilla, a family-owned one-stop shop for sourdough everything and uniquely Alaskan gifts. Their flagship retail store, bakery and offices are all located in Wasilla. Tour their facilities and learn about the sourdough tradition passed down since 1977 using fresh glacier water and fireweed in many products.

Kids enjoy watching their cookies and tasty bread get made behind big viewing windows before picking sweet treats in their very own “Three Bear’s House.” With two retail locations plus seasonal booths at major Alaska travel hotspots, Three Bears Alaska is a local staple both tourists and Wasilla residents love to visit anytime.

Winterlake Lodge

Tucked away in Alaska’s backcountry outside Wasilla, Winterlake Lodge offers visitors gorgeous lodging and renowned sporting opportunities year-round that rival any world-class resort. Located at the trailhead for a vast network of trails in the northern foothills of the Talkeetna Mountains, the alpine scenery and serenity here is unparalleled. Visitors can rent private cabins at varying levels of rustic luxury with creat amenities.

Expert wilderness guides lead scenic snowshoe excursions, overnight winter camping trips, and summer fishing, hiking or paddling outings from the lodge headquarters. With superb dining and Alaskan hospitality through and through, Winterlake Lodge lets you connect intimately with the natural beauty of Alaska in rustic elegance and comfort.

Conclusion


This list only scratches the surface of the top attractions and activities visitors can enjoy around vibrant Wasilla, Alaska throughout the seasons. From world-class museums to outdoor recreational areas and local shops displaying Alaskan creativity, Wasilla’s small-town vibe leaves a big impression.

With its rich pioneering history intertwined with Native heritage and culture, plus no shortage of natural splendour, Wasilla offers any visitor the perfect glimpse into this one-of-a-kind destination in the Last Frontier. Whether using Wasilla as your base camp to explore Alaska’s radon or even as a day trip from nearby Anchorage, taking the time to discover Wasilla’s many hidden gems proves a rewarding and quintessential Alaskan experience you won’t forget.

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