Tolovana Lodge (Tolovana Roadhouse as it is known historically) is located 53 miles by trail from Nenana, Ak. It is most famous for being the first stop in The Serum Run of 1925 – a sled dog relay which brought the diphtheria antitoxin to Nome to save the lives of many children during this historical epidemic. The Serum Run was a precursor to the modern-day Iditarod Sleddog Race which follows much of the original relay route. Due to lack of snow in Anchorage (the traditional Iditarod race start since 1973), the 2015 and 2017 Iditarod Sled Dog Race starts were moved to Fairbanks and Tolovana Roadhouse provided a hospitality stop for mushers during these years. See a pic from 2017 of mushers and their teams bedded down in front of the Roadhouse on a chilly March morning.
Tolovana has a rich history as a Roadhouse circa 1925 and prior to that as a Trading Company providing staples and wood for boilers on steamships headed down the Tanana and to the goldfields up the Tolovana to Livengood. Circa 1917 the land also housed a telegraph office (you can still see the telegraph wire and insulators hanging in trees along the trail). And prior to white settlement, the area was traditional Athabascan hunting and fishing grounds.
The roadhouse sits on the banks of the Tanana River in a very remote location shared by moose, fox, wolves, beaver, river otter (bears in summer – they’re hibernating in the winter). There are a few mushers and trappers that visit the area by dog team and snowmachine; however, it is virtually free from all the modern-day distractions and noise of even the smallest settlement. The Roadhouse is off-the-grid and ‘dry’ (meaning no running water). We have an outhouse for toilet facilities. We are powered for lights and necessities by a small generator. We do bring in bottled drinking water and use river water or snow-melt for dogs and bathing in the sauna.
You’ll find the rustic roadhouse warm and comfortable, as well as pleasingly simple and well-preserved. Come and share in the history, beauty, and solitude it has to offer. Below are our optional itineraries. We believe this fly-in and fly-out tour makes Tolovana Roadhouse accessible to those who want to get away from it all, but also allows you to choose your level of involvement with dogsledding and other activities on the trail. While it is geared towards a group of 2-4 people who want to drive a dogteam up to 32 miles per day and sleep in a warm bed at night, we can turn up the adventure by mushing to our Arctic oven camp for a night or turn up the relaxation by stoking the sauna as the Aurora Borealis cranks overhead. There’s time for a little of both. Or a side-trip to Manley Hot Springs…