Is dog sledding on your bucket list? Gliding through the pristine snow-covered country side while harnessing the incredible power of a team of sled dogs is an amazing experience. The way the dogs work together, navigating the snowy trails, is unbelievable.
But, where do you even start with planning a dog sledding trip? Where are the best places to go dog sledding? Is dog sledding cruel to the animals? How hard is it to drive a dog sled?
I had the same questions before I went dog sledding in Norway! Here’s what I’ve learned.
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- About Dog Sledding
- Best Dog Sledding Vacation Destinations in the World!
- 1 | Dog Sledding in Canmore, Alberta | Canada
- 2 | Dog Sledding in Whitehorse, Yukon | Canada
- 3 | Dog Sledding in Anchorage, Alaska | USA
- 4 | Dog Sledding in Fairbanks, Alaska | USA
- 5 | Dog Sledding in Ely, Minnesota | USA
- 6 | Dog Sledding in Tromsø | Norway
- 7 | Dog Sledding in Ilulissat | Greenland
- 8 | Dog Sledding in Rovaniemi | Finland
- 9 | Dog Sledding in Akureyri | Iceland
- 10 | Dog Sledding in Kiruna | Sweden
- 11 | Dog Sledding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming | USA
- When can you go dog sledding?
- Are dog sledding tours ethical?
- Should I take a guided tour or self-drive dog sled tour?
- How hard is it to drive the dog sled?
- What gear do I need to go dog sledding?
- Where Will You Go Dog Sledding?
About Dog Sledding
Though the exact timeframe seems to be debated, it is widely recognized that dog sledding was invented by the Inuit people in what is now Canada thousands of years ago. Early on, a single dog likely pulled a single small load of goods like firewood. Later, dog sledding became more advanced by using teams of dogs to pull larger loads and eventually humans through the Arctic regions of the world.
Up until the 1960’s, dog sleds were used by the US Postal Service to deliver mail to some parts of Alaska. Even today, there are some regions and native cultures of the world that still rely on this human and dog partnership to transport goods.
It’s important to remember when dog sledding, that it’s not just for sport and adventure. Dog sledding is part of an ancient practice that native people have relied on to survive in Arctic regions.
Best Dog Sledding Vacation Destinations in the World!
There are so many places to go dog sledding around the world, it can feel nearly impossible to choose one! This list includes the places where dog sledding is believed to have originated, the most beautiful landscapes and both easily accessible and remote destinations. There is a destination on this list for anyone who wants to give dog sledding a try!
1 | Dog Sledding in Canmore, Alberta | Canada
Dog sledding is believed to have originated in the northern parts of Canada or Siberia. Native cultures in these areas used dogs to pull people and materials on sleds as far back as 2000BC. So, of course, dog sledding in Canada is at the top of the list.
Alberta, specifically the Canmore area, offers the opportunity to glide through snow covered trails in the Canadian Rockies and even Banff National Park. Enjoy the view of those iconic blue waters of Lake Louise from behind a dog sled for a truly one-of-a-kind experience!
Tour Companies: Consider booking a tour with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours. They have extensive information about the care and humane treatment of their sled dogs in the Sled Dog Welfare page on their website.
2 | Dog Sledding in Whitehorse, Yukon | Canada
Did you know that the Yukon is the size of Spain?! Yep, and over 80% of this territory is complete wilderness. What better way to experience the Yukon wilderness than behind a dog sled?
The capital city of Whitehorse is a great base for your Yukon adventures, including dog sledding. While you’re there, embrace all things winter! There’s seemingly endless snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and more.
Tour Companies: Sky High Ranch has a strong commitment to leave no trace principles and partnership with the Kwanlin Dunn First Nation whose land they sled on. Muktuk Adventures shares information about not just their working dogs, but the non-working and retired dogs they care for as well.
3 | Dog Sledding in Anchorage, Alaska | USA
Alaska is one of the most popular destinations for dog sledding in the US and the world. While there are many places in Alaska to go dog sledding, the most easily accessible is Anchorage.
Many tours depart from Anchorage and go to either Girdwood or Willow by bus. But, some tours include a helicopter ride to the dog sledding destination if you want an even more unique experience.
Tour Companies: Snow Hook Adventure Guides of Alaska is the only dog sledding tour company in the Anchorage area I found that shares their commitment to treating the dogs humanely on their website. They have even won Humanitarian Awards for exceptional dog care during races such as the Iditarod. Other tour companies may have great practices, but their websites focus on the tours and cost only, not the dogs, which is a potential red flag.
4 | Dog Sledding in Fairbanks, Alaska | USA
Although it’s not quite in the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks is said to be the best place to see the Northern Lights in the United States! This makes it an awesome place to go for a nighttime dog sled adventure to chase the Northern Lights.
Pro Tip: Want to capture the Northern Lights but don’t know where to start? Here’s my Northern Lights photography guide for beginners!
If you want more of a daytime dog sledding experience, there’s plenty of options. Here’s one that will give you a taste of dog sledding in Fairbanks!
Tour Companies: Black Spruce Dog Sledding is owned by a husband and wife who have experience competing in the Iditarod. While they do offer adoptions of retired dogs, I like that the adoption fee is 100% refundable any time as part of their commitment to ensure the dogs are well cared for.
5 | Dog Sledding in Ely, Minnesota | USA
Minnesotans know how to do winter! During the colder months of the year the pristine Boundary Waters area freezes over to become the perfect backdrop for a dog sledding adventure. Ely has several different dog sledding tour operators, including half-day, full-day and overnight experiences.
Tour Companies: Wintergreen Dogsled and Lodge offers anything from half day to multi-day long dog sledding trips with lodging and camping options. They have an entire page dedicated to their dogs, including details about their care, personalities, and more!
6 | Dog Sledding in Tromsø | Norway
While dog sledding is believed to have originated in what is now Canada and Siberia, it has been practiced for centuries across the Arctic regions by native people like the Sami in Norway, Finland and surrounding countries.
Located in the Arctic Circle, Tromso is an island surrounded by mountains. It offers a unique landscape perfect for dog sledding. Tromso is also a great place to spot the Northern Lights! Here are my tips to plan your winter visit to Tromso.
Tour Companies: Tromso Villmarkssenter offers a wonderful half day self-drive dog sledding option so you can feel what it’s like to be a musher!
7 | Dog Sledding in Ilulissat | Greenland
You may be surprised to hear that Greenland has a long history of dog sledding. The practice played a critical role in transporting people and materials across Greenland’s landscape with no shortage of snow and glaciers.
Because Greenland is still relatively off the beaten path, some dog sledding tours depart from Iceland to Greenland!
Tour Companies: Pirhuk Guides offers an immersive Greenland experience including dog sledding, trekking, and more. Their guides will take you to one of the most remote areas of not just Greenland, but the planet. Oh, and with their off the beaten path location you might even get a glimpse of a polar bear or the Northern Lights!
Pro Tip: There are loads of dog sledding tour companies in Greenland, but I struggled to find any that offered half or full-day experiences and demonstrated a commitment to humane treatment of the dogs. Do your research before booking!
8 | Dog Sledding in Rovaniemi | Finland
As the home to Santa Claus himself, Rovaniemi is a city that fuels your inner child in many ways. While there, be sure to experience dog sledding through the pristine Arctic countryside and enjoy the magic of Finland’s Lapland region.
Read my Rovaniemi Winter Adventure Guide to plan your visit!
Tour Companies: Parpalandia is owned by a family local to Rovaniemi. They share bios of their dogs on their website as well as a commitment to Leave No Trace principles and investing in their local economy. Here’s an example of one of their half day self-drive dog sledding tours.
9 | Dog Sledding in Akureyri | Iceland
We’ve all seen the stunning other-worldly photos of dreamy Iceland. It’s magic lures people from around the world to visit in all seasons. Find the best dog sledding in Iceland in Akureyri, which is just off the ring road about 200 miles north of Reykjavik.
Tour Companies: Interestingly, there are loads of companies offering dog sledding in Iceland but there was only one I could find that specializes in dog sledding. Go Husky is locally and family owned. Other dog sledding tours seemed to be part of larger tour companies that offered all sorts of experiences. While these larger tour companies may be ethical, it’s a red flag to me that they don’t specialize in or highlight the welfare of the huskies on their website.
10 | Dog Sledding in Kiruna | Sweden
Sweden’s northernmost town, Kiruna, is the perfect place for dog sledding! Enjoy driving or riding past moose, across frozen lakes, and through beautiful forests. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a glimpse of the Northern Lights while you’re there!
Tour Companies: Kiruna Sleddog Tours offers dog sledding in Kiruna, including an option to stay overnight in a yurt! Their website includes a bio for all of their staff, both humans and dogs. Active Lapland has also been operating dog sledding tours in the area for over 30 years.
11 | Dog Sledding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming | USA
Did you know that you can dog sled just outside of Yellowstone National Park?! Avoid those summer crowds and get a taste of winter magic while dog sledding near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Tour Companies: Jackson Hole Sled Dog Tours is owned by an Iditarod veteran with over 20 years experience as a professional musher. He’s won the Humanitarian Award for the high quality of care he provides for his team and shares his commitment to the wellbeing of his dogs still today on his website. Similarly, Jackson Hole Continental Divide Dog Sled Adventures has been owned and operated by a Wyoming native and his daughters for over 20 years. They have also been recognized for the high quality of care provided to their dogs.
Photograph the beauty of Yellowstone National Park in winter with these tips from Photo Jeepers!
It’s natural to have a lot of questions about dog sledding and it’s important to get the answers you need before booking a tour or excursion. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about dog sledding.
When can you go dog sledding?
This will vary depending on where you go dog sledding, but generally it is available from December through March. Some destinations will have longer dog sledding seasons based on their climate.
It’s common for dog sledding companies to offer warm weather husky experiences during the other months of the year. While it won’t be quite the same as gliding through snow, you can still interact with the huskies and get a taste of dog sledding!
Are dog sledding tours ethical?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a black and white answer to this question. I share more on this in my detailed review of Tromso Villmarkssenter, but the short answer is that it depends.
The way the dogs are treated varies depending on the humans who care for them and operate the tour. So, always do your research before booking a tour. Based on my personal experience with Tromso Villmarkssenter, I felt that the dogs were well cared for and truly enjoyed pulling the sleds. The wellbeing of the dogs appeared to be a priority for the mushers, staff and owners.
But, your personal values will influence whether you feel dog sledding is ethical. If you believe that any use of animals for recreation is unethical, then dog sledding will not be for you.
Head on over to this article where I’ve shared more detail on what to look for in a dog sledding tour and links to articles about whether dog sledding is ethical.
Should I take a guided tour or self-drive dog sled tour?
This is really down to your personal preference, but I strongly encourage you to consider a self-drive tour. It’s such a special experience to feel so connected to the sled dogs as they work together to navigate through the countryside. Most self-drive dog sled tours have you working as a pair so you drive half of the time and then ride inside the sled for the remainder. So, you get the best of both worlds!
How hard is it to drive the dog sled?
The good news is that you really don’t need to navigate – the dogs know where they’re going. So, you just need to focus on regulating the speed, managing the brakes and holding on. This does require physical effort, particularly as the braking involves using your body weight to press down onto a metal rod.
What gear do I need to go dog sledding?
As a general rule, dog sledding tour companies will provide warm gear for you to wear over your clothes. This typically includes boots and a jumpsuit. Be sure to verify this before booking. Plan to bring a warm hat, gloves, socks, base layers, and sunglasses at minimum.
Here’s my complete list of what to wear for winter hiking as a starting point!
Where Will You Go Dog Sledding?
Out of all of these incredible places to go dog sledding, you really can’t go wrong. It’ll be an experience of a lifetime! I’ve done my best to highlight companies that take the care and wellbeing of the dogs seriously so that you can rest easy and enjoy the adventure.
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