9 Don't-Miss Dog Sled Rides
Hop into a sled, and a team of four-legged athletes will bark and pull on their harnesses, eager to ferry you into the wintery landscape. Once the musher gives the word, the sled runners bite into the icy trail, the snow flurries around you, and you're off.
Dog sledding is an exhilarating way to venture into the wilderness – or through a peaceful, snow-covered meadow, if you prefer. It's also a fun and different activity at a number of cold-weather resorts. Chances are, you'll end your ride with a meet-and-greet with the beautiful dogs.
Book your dog sled ride in advance; these winter adventures are popular and sell out fast. Also, check each resort or company’s website before you go, to verify prices, schedules, information on how old children must be to ride, and any weight restrictions.
The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana
Musher Hannah Stagner, from Hazard Kennel, may be the one who guides your team when you book a sled adventure at this 37,000-acre, luxury ranch resort, located about 45 minutes from Missoula.
While you glide alongside the icy Blackfoot River or underneath the shadows of tall, fragrant pines, she’ll explain how she trains Cessna, Dreadnought, Ducky and her other prized canines. (Some of the country’s best dogsled racing takes place in the valley, where four-time Iditarod winner Doug Swingley and other local mushers train.)
After you’ve seen the sights by paw power, pamper yourself with a treatment in the warm spa, or enjoy other winter sports like snow tubing, ice skating and cross-country skiing. The resort has over a hundred miles of lightly-trod wilderness trails that lead into a virtual winter wonderland.
Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby, Colorado
Family-friendly Snow Mountain Ranch is near Winter Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Lake. It’s one of two YMCA of the Rockies facilities, where dog sledding is often used to teach leadership and outdoor skills to local school children. Visitors can choose to stay in lodge rooms, cabins, yurts, tents or on the RV campgrounds. Reserve a standard ride, if you’re a beginner; you’ll take a 2-mile trail and enjoy a program that includes a movie, hot cocoa, a craft and an outdoor fire. Advanced sled rides last about 50 minutes on fun trails with turns and inclines. Rides are also offered for groups of 15 to 25 and can be customized around themes like teamwork, perseverance and more.
Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Located on a 1,000-acre wildlife refuge near the town of Jackson, this luxurious ranch resort has spectacular views of the Teton Mountains. Stay in a room, condominium or mountain villa and plan a dog sled ride with partner companies Jackson Hole Iditarod or Continental Divide Dog Sled Adventures. Learn how to run your own team or just snuggle under a blanket and look for bald eagles, elk, deer and other wildlife. Ask the ranch concierge about the different kinds of trips available. By the way, Travel+Leisure named Jackson Hole as one of the 50 top places to go in 2017 for its skiing, snowmobiling and other adventures.
Waldorf Astoria, Park City, Utah
The Waldorf Astoria in Park City works with North 40 Escapes to offer sled rides pulled by professional race dogs. Trips can be customized for guests of all ages, and transportation to and from the sledding destination—a snowy meadow—is included.
Expect the experience to take about an hour; you’ll leave with pictures to remember the fun, and you’ll have time to interact with the dogs and play with any puppies that are on hand. Ask your musher if you want to try guiding the team yourself.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Choose from two trips in the Canadian Rockies at beautiful Fairmont Chateau. Both are offered through the Kingmik Dogsled Tours, the only dogsledding vendor in Banff National Park. The Great Divide Tour covers about 10 miles, departing from Banff into Yoho National Park; you’ll go through Kicking Horse Pass, at an elevation of 5,338 feet, at the Continental Divide. On the way back, your guide will teach you a few mushing basics if you want to guide the team. The Narnia Tour takes you along a woodland trail for a 30-minute, introductory dog-sled ride.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek, Colorado
Ask a Park Hyatt concierge to schedule your sled ride with a team of lively huskies. Each sled holds two people, and follows a trail of about seven miles for approximately 2 1/2 hours. Tours leave in the mornings and again in the afternoons, departing from a private ranch west of Beaver Creek, in the Wolcott area. Your ride will include homemade snacks and a hot beverage to take off the chill.
Gunflint Lodge, Grand Marais, Minnesota
This lodge offers rustic cabins, complete with fireplaces, on the shore of Gunflint Lake in northern Minnesota. Dog mushing specials are offered on a limited basis into early March and include three days and four nights in a cabin; meals, one dog sled ride per day; the use of cross-country skis and snowshoes and several guided activities. Take a sled ride into the woods or venture out onto the frozen lake--only if weather conditions permit, of course. A musher will let you drive the team, if you like, while he or she goes along as a passenger.
EarthSong Lodge and Denali Dog Sled Expeditions, Denali Park, AK
This Denali park concessionaire offers day tours that run from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the month you visit. Book an overnight trip, and stay in a backcountry cabin used by the park patrol. Don't want to ride? Ski instead, letting the dogs help you along. On sled rides, you'll glide by Wonder Lake and approach the north face of the mountain, also known as Mount McKinley. Guides accommodate all skill levels; novices can lodge in snug cabins and watch demonstrations, while advanced sledders can head into the wilderness for up to a week.
Ganondagan Native American Winter Games, Victor, NY
This annual Native American event doesn't offer dog sled rides, but we're including it because it's a great place to watch demonstrations. The games are held in the town of Victor, southeast of Rochester, on the historic Ganondagan site, where a Senecan village once flourished. You can also try your hand at winter sports like snow shoeing and snow boating, play a game called snow-snaking, sample Native American foods and enjoy other activities. The event, which takes place on Sat., Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is open to the public and will be held with or without snow. Admission is free through the Seneca Art and Cultural Center.