Dog mushing has been a popular method of Alaskan transportation for thousands of years. Canine-drawn sleds make it easy to cross miles of glacier ice, snow, and subarctic wilderness, especially before modern inventions such as the snowmobile. After the mid- to late-1920s, dog sledding switched to a sport, with many races held across the state annually. Mushers come from all over the world to Anchorage every March to compete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for cash and bragging rights. Novice mushers can embark on dog sledding tours – many offered during both summer and winter – near Denali National Park and Chugach National Park, and in Fairbanks, Skagway, Juneau, and Anchorage.
Maine‘s western and northern woods are blanketed with snow come winter; several outfitters take advantage of the deep powder with a selection of dog-sledding packages from daily treks to mid-day campfire lunches. There are overnight trips that take mushers deep into the woods for camping, meals included. New England Dogsledding offers hands-on dog-sledding trips, where visitors can learn how to handle and drive a team of a dozen dogs, passing through the majestic White Mountain National Forest when en route. Mahoosuc Guide Service offers a more intimate experience, with three-day tours covering 6-20 miles per day, each person with his or her own sled.
Whether you’re looking for a day trip or weekend getaway, Minnesota is dog-sledding country. White Wilderness in Ely can accommodate everything from individuals and couples to families and private groups; also in Ely, Wintergreen‘s most popular expeditions – a four-night excursion through the Northwoods – teaches participants how to mush their own team of dogs. Duluth and Deer River both have a selection of mushing companies to choose from, including short two-hour rides and custom overnight sledding trips.
There’s no better place to speed through the wide open wilderness that is Big Sky Country. There are dog-sledding outfitters located across the state, including Whitefish, Big Fork, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and Big Sky. The optimal time for speeding through forested trails is after the first week of December when they are packed with snow. Basecamp at Bigfork offers a hands-on approach to dog sledding, allowing participants to harness and care for the pups before driving their own team of Inuit sled dogs. If you’re on the hunt for a winter wonderland, this is it.
Perched a mile above sea level, the outskirts of Denver make for ideal dog sledding during winter. Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park in Fraser does daily tours; Goodtimes Adventures in Breckenridge offers a six-mile tour along the winding trails of the Swan River Valley, and Snow Buddy Dog Sled Tours in Oak Creek has either a self-driven or fully guided tour of Dunckley Pass through Little Flat Tops. In Telluride, Wintermoon Sled Dog Adventures explores snow-covered trails throughout the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests as part of their thrilling dog-sledding experience.
In a state marked by miles of pristine wilderness, it’s easy to find tour operators with mushing on the docket. Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours feature over 170 Alaskan sled dogs, with trips going to Granite Creek Canyon and Bridger-Teton National Forest; an adventure through Jackson’s surrounding wild terrain reveals majestic mountain tops, alpine forests, and rare species such as bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and, of course, the occasional deer, moose, and elk. Continental Divide Dogsled in Dubois has day trips, overnight adventures, and multi-day excursions that mush through the Teton and Shoshoni National Forests surrounding Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone Area.