A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 13°/28°/Partly sunny
Fairbanks: -23°/17°/Mostly sunny
Town between Matanuska, Susitna valleys is Iditarod race's home
Sitting along the northern side of Knik Arm, Wasilla, Alaska, is the launching point for adventurers off on fishing, camping and exploring trips.
Wasilla, a sprawling town with a population of 6,000, is midway between the Matanuska and Susitna valleys, on the George Parks Highway. It lies between Wasilla and Lucille lakes, 43 highway miles northeast of Anchorage (an hour's drive) and about 10 miles west of Palmer. To the north and east rise the Talkeetna Mountains.
The city celebrates its ties to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race with the Iditarod Trail Days festival each February. Another winter event is the Iron Dog Race, a contest in which teams race snowmobiles from Fairbanks to Nome to Big Lake to Wasilla.
In the summer, Wasilla is the base for fishing contests in the Susitna and Little Susitna valleys.
January temperatures range from 4 to 23; July temperatures vary from 47 to 68. The average annual precipitation is 17 inches, with 50 inches of snowfall.
Thirty percent of the Wasilla workforce commutes to Anchorage. The local economy is diverse, and residents are employed in a variety of city, borough, state, federal, retail and professional service positions. Tourism, agriculture, wood products, steel and concrete products are part of the economy. Wasilla is home to the Iditarod Trail Committee.
The George Parks Highway, Glenn Highway and other roads connect the city to Anchorage, the remainder of the state and Canada. The Alaska Railroad serves Wasilla. A city airport, with a paved 3,700' airstrip, provides scheduled commuter and air taxi services. Floatplanes land at Wasilla Lake, Jacobsen Lake and Lake Lucille. There are 10 additional private airstrips in the vicinity.
Nine percent of the population is Alaska Native or part Native.
Wasilla was named after a respected local Dena'ina Indian, Chief Wasilla. In the Dena'ina Athabascan Indian dialect, "Wasilla" is said to mean "breath of air." Other sources claim the chief derived his name from the Russian language and that "Vasili" is a variation of the Russian name "William."
The townsite was established in 1917 at the intersection of the Knik-Willow mining trail and the newly constructed Alaska Railroad. It was a supply base for gold, notably at Hatcher Pass, and coal mining in the region through World War II.
The Matanuska-Susitna valley was settled by many homesteaders as part of an experiment in the 1930s. Agricultural crops and natural resources sustained growth and development in the valley. The city was incorporated in 1974.