Dog Sledding in Juneau, Alaska
When it comes to adventures in Alaska, dog sledding is one experience that is usually on everyone’s list. And why not? It’s like the quintessential Alaskan experience where you can see some of the beautiful Alaskan landscape while making friends with some of the sweetest dogs ever!
While researching excursions before our trip to Alaska, we found that it’s actually quite easy to experience dog sledding, but not all of the excursions are on actual snow. During the off-season, you can still go sledding, but just not on snow. The sleds will have wheels so you can make it across the terrain.
And then we found a trip that would take us out to a snowy glacier/dog camp via helicopter. Umm…yes, please! First off, this would be my first experience in a helicopter, and taking a ride out to walk on glaciers seemed like a great idea to me!
Once we landed at the dog camp on the Herbert Glacier, we were greeted by our guide, Eric. We got a quick overview of the camp and how our ride would go, then we loaded up on the sled and were off!
See Related: Cruising Glacier Bay, Alaska- A Photo Essay
The area was so beautifully pristine. The white was so bright, and it messed with our depth perception. Mountains that we though were close by were actually huge and far away!
Eric talked with us during our trip, explaining that the dogs eat more than you can imagine, and about their diets. Did you know that the dogs eat the snow while they’re out running? Of course they do! Simple solution to staying hydrated!
Mark and I were both given the chance to drive the sled. We learned the various calls and signals that the driver gives the dogs, such as “gee” for a left turn and “haw” for a right turn.
The power of these dogs is absolutely amazing, and, believe it or not, they were constantly raring to go!
I loved getting a turn driving the sled. Pushing my weight to one side or the other, I could manipulate my sled. The pull of the dogs was incredible. Standing on those runners, gliding through the snow is one experience that I’ll never forget!
We also learned that there are no potty breaks for the dogs! They just go as they run. No big deal. And it really wasn’t. When you gotta go, you gotta go, right?
Halfway through our adventure, we stopped to take in the scenery and to spend a bit of time with the dogs themselves. We made sure to talk to, pet, and thank every single one of them for pulling us around.
Even with only a few minutes with each dog, their personalities were shining through, each so different! They were all very loving and energetic.
Our two lead dogs were Stevie and Toolia, and they were beautiful. I was very proud to see a female leading the pack. Keep in line, girl!
The dog sledding experience is one I will never forget. Dog sledding is a tradition throughout the arctic, originally used to get around and move cargo, and it remains popular today. It is part of the culture of the arctic area. The sport of dog sledding has become famous, with the first race in Nome, Alaska in 1908. You may be more familiar with the race called the Iditarod.
The fact that the dogs aren’t cold in the snow was hard for me to grasp, but it’s true! They would roll around in it to cool themselves off. Crazy, huh?
Seeing the bond between the dogs and the guides (mushers) was incredible. The mushers actually live at the camp with the dogs. When the guys were showing us their tents, we were surprised to see a dog inside one of them. The reason? The men get cold while the dogs don’t. The dog was there to sleep beside the man, adding body heat. Pretty smart, right?
The dogs are so beautiful that it’s hard to comprehend the fact that they are “mutts.” These sled dogs are a combination of breeds and are commonly known as “Alaskan huskies.”
See Related: The Best Souvenirs from Alaska
To learn more about this tour, visit the Coastal Helicopters website. This tour is highly, highly recommended. Our guide, Eric, was super informative, sharing information and answering all of our many questions. Mark and I felt like we had plenty of time on the sled, way more than we ever imagined, and also had plenty of time with the dogs, never feeling rushed.
We left with a whole new understanding and appreciation for dog sledding. This experience is worth every penny!
Have you been dog sledding before? Is this on your bucket list? Have you experienced the summer sledding (on wheels)? If so, how do you think it compares to the snow? Anything else you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and three fur babies. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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