Dog Sledding

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Dog Sledding in Alaska

Most people that hear the word Alaska, immediately picture a lone Eskimo riding a dog sled through a frozen wilderness. Today, Eskimos don’t use dog sleds anymore, but rather snow mobiles, they don’t like being called Eskimo and prefer Native Alaskan, and at this rate, who knows – frozen wildernesses might not exist in a couple of years.

In any case, dog sledding today is only done for sport. The only places that have snow in the summer are the mountains and glaciers (and sometimes not even those), and until recently the only places that operated sledding were businesses that offered sleds with wheels – a somewhat shady experience if you ask me.

Glaciers and Dogs

A few years ago someone saw the opportunity and established a base camp on an ice field outside of Juno. Tourists that come here via cruises (and there are a lot of them), can take a helicopter flight to the glacier where they go on a “real” sled tour, on the snow. The combination of flight and sled proved to be a winner and these tours – now also operating out of Seward and Girdwood – are a highly recommended experience. The dogs are really friendly, and enjoy the attention and dry climate on the glacier.

Despite not being cheap at all, it is a once in a life time experience – especially if you’re a dog (or glacier) person. Don’t forget to dress warm and charge your camera batteries.

A few companies operating in Alaska

Alpine Air – A helicopter company operating on a glacier near Girdwood, in partnership with Mitch Seavey, one of the most famous dogsledders in Alaska.

Seward Helicopter Tours – A helicopter company operating on the Godwin Glacier outside of Seward.

Coastal Helicopters – Sled tours over Juno. Particularly convenient if your cruise stopes at Juno.

Here is a video about a guy called Lance Mackey, maybe a little rednek-y but a guy with amazing character that won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (the longest dog sled race in Alaska – about 1060 miles), not once but 4 times. Back to back. And if that wasn’t enough he also beat cancer on the way:

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