Iditarod 40: Parking in Willow

At yesterday’s media briefing for the Iditarod they urged us to get the word out about the potential parking problem at the Iditarod re-start in Willow.

Living in Willow I know what to expect. Not only do we have tons of snow here but in this small village of just 2,500 people, parking is at a premium.

The re-start takes place on Willow Lake at the Community Center at about Mile Marker 70 on the Parks Highway. It is approximately an hour and a half drive from Anchorage without too much traffic.

The community center has very little parking and there will be a parking lot across the highway. This is a paid lot so be prepared with cash. It is several hundred yards to the lake from this parking lot so wear warm clothing and be prepared to walk.

Get there as early as possible. The race starts at 2 pm with the first musher going out and continues on every two minutes. The last dog team will leave Willow sometime after 4 pm. I would suggest arriving well before noon as the parking lots will likely be full by 12:30 at the latest.

The Alaska State Troopers have said that they will not allow anyone to park along the highway under any circumstances.

There are very few choices for food in the Willow area. We have a convenience store, Townsite Food Market, the Willow Trading Post and I am sure there will be vendors at the community center that sell fast food items like hot dogs and coffee. The closest sit down restaurant besides the Willow Trading Post (which is rather small) is the Houston Lodge about 12 miles to the south.

If you do drive to Willow, be prepared to spend a long time heading to and from the race start. In some years traffic has been backed up all the way to Houston and you could potentially miss the race if you don’t plan accordingly.

After the race start is over it is the same. Last year traffic was diverted for over four miles in order to increase flow. It took me two hours to drive from the Community Center to my house which is just about five miles away.

There will be shuttle service to Willow and I highly recommend that.

Here is the schedule:


This year with a close to record snowfall amount, we strongly encourage Willow Restart press, media, volunteers, and spectators to take one of the Willow Restart shuttle buses (see schedule below).   In Willow snow depths are reaching 10’+ and the narrow roads are even narrower, and the parking less than before.  So, we are encouraging Restart attendees to take a shuttle or at least car pool to help ease the parking issue as well as help to ease the congestion of traffic on the road and getting into and out of parking lots.

We hope everyone can help us spread this very important message. 

Anchorage Millennium Hotel:  Volunteer tickets $10 roundtrip, Spectator tickets $20 roundtrip, both can be purchased at Volunteer Registration Desk in the Millennium Hotel

Buses Depart Millennium Hotel:  8:00 AM – volunteer bus, 9:30 AM – volunteers and spectators, 11:00 AM – spectators

Buses Depart Willow for Millennium Hotel:  4:00 PM, 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM

Wasilla:   Adults $2.00 roundtrip and children under 12 free.

Buses Depart Wasilla High School: 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:15 PM, 12:30 PM, 12:45 PM, and 1:00 PM

Buses Depart Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center:  11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, and 12:00 P

Volunteers can catch a bus leaving the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center at 9:00 AM

Houston:  Adults $2.00 roundtrip and children under 12 free.

 Buses Depart Houston High School: 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM and 12:30 PM

Buses Depart from Willow to Houston – Curtis D. Menard Sports Center – Wasilla High School:

4:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 6:00 PM

ALL return shuttles will make stops at Houston – Curtis D. Menard Sports Center – Wasilla High School

Talkeetna:  Adults $2.00 roundtrip and children under 12 free.

Buses Depart Talkeetna Sunshine Restaurant: 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM

Buses Depart from Willow for Talkeetna Sunshine Restaurant: 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM

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