DrylandTrainingThe Best Rollerskiing In Alaska

FasterSkierJuly 7, 2005

I recently spent a week in Iliamna, AK doing some environmental assessment work for what, if the project flies, will be the largest mine in Alaska’s history. As it turns out, I ran into (or maybe I should say rolled into) another superlative in Iliamna: the town may be home to some of the best rollerskiing in the world.

Rollerskiing out of town

Now, before you start planning your trip to rollerskiing paradise, keep in mind that you can’t just get in your car and drive there. Iliamna is located on the northern shore of Lake Iliamna, which is at the north end of the Alaska Peninsula. Other than the 30 kilometers of pavement in Iliamna, the closest road is at least an hour’s plane ride away. However, this remoteness is precisely why the rollerskiing is so good. After a week’s worth of poking my head around, my guess is that a grand total of 20-30 cars have somehow made it out there to use the brand new pavement rolling through the tundra. That makes for some pretty non-existent traffic. Yes, there is a certain satisfaction in V2ing from white line to white line.

A shot of us doing field work

The Pebble Project is certainly not a drop in the bucket though. Environmental concerns regarding one of the better trout and salmon fisheries in the world (this used to be one of John Denver’s favorite fishing spots) add to the economic and political uncertainties surrounding the mine’s implementation. Maybe if the mine doesn’t fly the investors can make their buck hyping Iliamna’s huge rollerski tourism potential…

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