How to Go Dog Sledding in Alaska

Dog sledding in Fairbanks, Alaska
Dog sledding in Fairbanks, Alaska | © Bailey Berg
Bailey Berg

In a not so distant past, dog sledding was one of the primary means of transportation in Alaska. Even today, it’s used as a transit method in remote corners of the state and by Denali National Park Rangers for winter park patrols. Between its cultural and historical significance (and the cuteness overload that is an excited team of huskies), it makes sense that mushing is often seen as the pinnacle moment of an Alaskan trip. Not sure where to start? Here are the four main types of dog sledding adventures.

The classic winter ride

Even though it’s the most classic way to go dog sledding, it’s often the least crowded time to experience it. Those lucky enough to make it to Alaska in winter months, are spoiled for options for mushing – unless it falls during the same timeframe as the Iditarod when the teams are gone competing. Winter rides usually include meeting all the dogs in the kennel (numbers that can range from a few dozen to nearly 100), getting more personalized lessons from the musher, and zipping through the trees while nestled under blankets on the sled or while standing on the runners. While most operators have down coats, heavy boots, and other cold weather garb, it’s encouraged to dress warmly – you’d be surprised how much colder it gets when you’re on a sled going ten miles an hour.

Availability for winter mushing can be found all over Alaska, particularly near Fairbanks and Seward, from November to March.

A dog sled team follows the trail in Talkeetna, Alaska

Those keen on having a mushing experience as close to the reality of the Iditarod (without actually having to race 1,000 miles) might be interested in customized, overnight dog sled tours. Participants drive their own dog teams deep into the backcountry of Alaska, to places unseen by even those who’ve called the state home their entire lives. Depending on the company, guests either sleep under the stars with the dogs or in remote cabins and lodges.

A handful of mushing outfits offer this experience, including the Dallas Seavey Iditarod Experience Sled Tours, Denali Dog Sled Expeditions, and Paws for Adventure, during winter months.

Dogs rest in the kennel yard

Summer glacier sledding

If you’re willing to shell out for the hefty price tag, dog sledding on a glacier is an unbeatable Alaskan experience, you’re getting three can’t-miss Alaskan experiences rolled into one: dog sledding, glacier trekking, and flightseeing. Operaters shuttle their guests from bigger hub cities to the designated glacier via helicopter. From there, participants meet the handlers and dog teams, receive a demonstration and learn about proper dog care, skim across the glaciers in the sled basket, and, if they’re up for it, try steering the sled themselves, before heading back to town.

A few companies to compare include Alaska Icefield Expeditions in Juneau, Temso Helicopters in Skagway, and Turning Heads Kennel in Seward from May through August.

Dogs pull a sled near Fairbanks, Alaska

Off-season mushing

Just because there isn’t snow on the ground during the summer doesn’t mean Iditarod contenders are taking time off. Instead of sleds on snow, the dog teams spend the green part of the training season pulling wheeled carts or 4-wheelers over the same trails they run in winter months. Most rides range from one to two hours, depending on the kennel’s size, followed by a tour of the kennel and unlimited time to meet and play the current and future race dogs. An added bonus of visiting a kennel in the summer: there are usually more puppies, as kennels try to breed their dogs in spring.

A few mushers to consider are Girdwood Mushing Company, Ididaride, and Sun Dog Kennel from April through November.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article