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Dog Mushing

Mar 31, 2019 | Eat. Shop. Play. Stay., Magazine, Small Business, Tourism

Alaska is home to the Iditarod: the Last Great Race. Every March determined mushers and their teams of incredible animals traverse 1,000 miles of sweeping mountains, frozen rivers, dense forest, remote tundra, and windy coastline. The race’s history, the determination of its human competitors, and the energy, strength, and beauty of its canine contestants all contribute to the allure of what has become an internationally iconic event.

So it’s no surprise that visitors to the Last Frontier often want more insight into the race, the racers, and the one-of-a-kind Alaskan huskies bred to run it. Fortunately, sled dog mushers love to share their passion, and listed below are opportunities around the state for locals or out-of-state travelers to (most importantly) cuddle with husky puppies—while learning more about the official sport of the 49th State.

Seavey’s Ididaride provides summer and winter dog sled tours in various packages; in particular, their winter tours are unique in that the clients are able to drive their own sled dog team, partnered with a guide to provide assistance when necessary. These self-driven tours range from two hours to the three-plus night custom Iditarod Dog Sledding Expedition, where guests traverse up to 150 miles over the historic Iditarod trail. ididaride.com
 
Turning Heads Kennel says, “Our dog sled tours are the heart and soul of what we do. They are our way of sharing what we love with an interested public and help us sustain our kennel financially so that we can continue doing what we love.” Tours range from just over an hour to a three day/two night excursion. turningheadskennel.com
 
 
Alaska Mushing School is “a small group of professional dog mushers who have raced in distances from 100 to 1,000 miles, from the Iditarod to the Yukon Quest to the Kuskokwim 300 and more.” They offer sled dog rides all year, including in the summer and fall. In the winter they offer a half-day mushing school or full-day mushing adventure, where participants can learn to drive the sleds themselves. alaskamushingschool.com
 
 
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Black Spruce Dog Sledding’s dogs compete in 200-400 mile races in addition to the Iditarod. In their off season, the dogs work with their human team members to provide tours in the Fairbanks area. Tours are available year-round and generally range from about two to three hours in length; tours include learning to drive a sled, riding on a sled or wheeled vehicle, or nature walks with the husky puppies and/or adult dogs. blacksprucedogsledding.com
 
Cotter’s Sled Dog Kennel is owned and operated by Iditarod musher Bill Cotter, who has entered and finished more than 150 sled dog races in his forty-year career. Cotter hosts a school for novice and intermediate dog mushers as well as provides sled dog rides and kennel tours during the winter season. billcotterkennel.com
Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service provides a variety of tours, among them dog sledding tours that can range from 30 minute to 4 hour adventures. According to the company, “This isn’t just a ride on a dog sled. Our team loves talking about their four-legged family members. Every tour includes commentary from your local guide/musher.” rodsalaskanguideservice.com

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Husky Homestead is the home of four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King; operating from mid-May to mid-September, the kennel offers three tours daily that run about 2.5 hours. Guests can cuddle with husky puppies, view summer training in action, and get insight into an authentic Alaskan lifestyle. huskyhomestead.com
Alpine Air Alaska offers an exciting opportunity to learn about the dedicated dog sled teams of Alaskan huskies that includes a helicopter ride into the majestic Chugach Mountains and onto Punch Bowl Glacier, 3,200 feet above sea level. Once there, guests learn how the dogs are bred, trained to pull the sled, and how they have everlasting endurance, followed by a ride around the glacier enjoying the scenic peaks and surrounding valleys. alpineairalaska.com/glacier-dog-sledding
NorthStar Trekking offers guests the Juneau Glacier Dog Sled Adventure, where they experience the magnificence of Juneau’s Norris Glacier through the eyes of an Iditarod musher. They have the opportunity to mush their own sled team of huskies across the snow-capped Juneau Icefield, learning the tricks of the trade from seasoned veterans of Alaska’s legendary Iditarod. northstartrekking.com
Salmon Berry Travel & Tours offers a dog sled tour opportunity in the winter season from late November to early April for groups of up to twelve. The tour is about eight hours long, and the full-day adventure takes place in Talkeetna at the homestead of Dallas Seavey, who has won the Iditarod four times. It includes a 10 kilometer mini expedition as well as meeting the dogs and learning the language from an experienced musher. salmonberrytours.com

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