Whoa! (That’s a real musher term.)
During a recent visit to Montana I was able to experience the thrill of heading into the backcountry, thanks to the strong efforts of my newfound, four-legged friends. Take time to learn about the animals and commands that are part of a dog sled adventure in a scenic and snowy location.
Here are five to consider.
1 Paradise Valley, Mont.:
Lead dogs Thunder and Quila will pull your sled through the snowy wonderland of the Absaroka Mountain wilderness east of Montana’s scenic Paradise Valley. Layer up (you'll want to stay cozy warm) and choose a half- or full-day adventure. Your family will learn how to encourage these Alaskan huskies along the trail. A three-day mushing school is also offered. Later, relax in the steamy waters at Chico Hot Springs Resort or take a horse-drawn carriage from the historic inn. Enjoy top-notch cuisine in the cozy dining room, a favorite among low-key Hollywood celebs as well as local ranchers.
2 McMillan, Mich.:
Meet seven-time Iditarod finisher Ed Stielstra, his wife, Tasha, and their team of 135 Alaskan huskies. Drive a dog team or relax in the sled through the pristine wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Spend a few hours or overnight with your team for a star-filled adventure. Add to the winter adventure with snow tubing, skiing or snowshoeing to the ice caves in nearby Marquette. All-inclusive packages are available.
3 Quebec, Canada:
Dog sledding is popular throughout the snowy regions of Quebec. Choose a tour that lasts several hours or one that lasts several nights. A guided, seven-night adventure will give you the chance to sleep in a teepee, a rustic cabin or in more luxurious digs. For those ready to expend a little more energy, try ski pulka, a combination of dog sledding and cross-country skiing.
4 Fairbanks, Alaska:
Journey aboard Alaska Railroad’s Aurora Winter Train to see the snow-covered Last Frontier and embark on a dog-sledding voyage. Travel from Fairbanks to Coldfoot, near the Gates of the Arctic National Park, to learn about caring for a sled team above the Arctic Circle. In the summer, helicopter in to the majestic Chugach Mountains and onto Punch Bowl Glacier to enjoy a scenic ride powered by sled dogs.
Contact: alaskarailroad.com; travelalaska.com
5 Troy, N.H.:
Meet the sled dogs from the Muddy Paw Kennel while staying at the Inn at East Hill Farm, a working farm in southern New Hampshire. With Mount Monadnock as your backdrop, help harness the team ahead of a 30-minute ride into the woods. Throughout your stay, hang out with the animals and collect eggs, groom the pony, and help milk the cow and goat. The all-inclusive experience includes three meals and an extensive list of family-friendly activities.
Contact: 1-800-242-6495; east-hill-farm.com