Feel your heart sing as you perch on a sled pulled by a team of friendly huskies, the crisp air turning your cheeks pink. There’s nothing quite like feeling the power of the canines and the connection between man and dog as together you explore a glittering winter wonderland.
Dogsledding is part of Canada’s DNA as the historic mode of transport used by Canadian fur traders and those living in the country’s northern locations. Today, Canada’s mountainous landscapes and professional tour guides offer idyllic dogsledding trails, from British Columbia in the west to Quebec in the east. Read on for five of the best.
1. British Columbia
Let the puppies lead you! Many of British Columbia’s winter ski resorts offer unforgettable dogsledding experiences, including Whistler Blackcomb and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in the Kootenay Rockies. The Thompson Okanagan region also offers an abundance of dogsledding options that make the most of the perfect snow conditions. Take a canine excursion with Candle Creek Dog Sled Tours at Big White Ski Resort and explore the tranquil backcountry. The alpine village of Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops is home to Mountain Man Dog Sled Adventures, where you have the option to take the reins and become a fully-fledged dog musher. Fancy a snowshoeing jaunt with five adorable Malamute sled dogs by your side? Big Bear Tours in the town of Lumby, near Vernon, offers 8-km cross-country ski or snowshoe expeditions through the snow-drenched mountainside of BC’s North Okanagan.
Slide along the happy trails of Yukon in Canada’s north-west, an exhilarated team of dogs howling with excitement in front of you. Get some tips on how to drive the sled yourself: “Gee! Haw!” (Go right! Go left!), or simply sit back and enjoy the speed and grace of the team as you fly along the trails, saturated in a deep blanket of snow. Select one of the many outfitters that offer half-day adventures in Whitehorse and Dawson City, or sign up for a multi-day experience that you’ll never forget. You’ll care for your own team of dogs, sleep in a remote wilderness camp and even score front row seats to the shimmering, dancing northern lights overhead. Sky High Wilderness Ranch, just outside Whitehorse, offers four, seven and fourteen-day husky wilderness adventures where you can live like an authentic Yukon musher!
There’s nothing quite like the pitter patter of paws on the snow and the jingle of dog collars as you glide through an enchanted forest, snow-white as though dipped in vanilla ice cream. Exploring by dog sled is one of the best ways to discover the frozen lakes and towering mountains of the Canadian Rockies. Help your musher prepare the dogs and learn how to harness your very own team of huskies. Your guides will share the history and techniques of Canadian dogsledding as they lead you through the most incredible winter landscape you’ve ever seen. Numerous dogsledding companies operate in Banff and Lake Louise offering everything from half-hour to full-day excursions. Whether you venture to the border of BC and Alberta across the Great Divide, or soar across the icy Spray Lakes, your dog-sledding adventure will stay in your heart forever.
4. Northwest Territories
Wrap yourself in blankets, hunker down and enjoy the chaos as your seasoned musher hitches up the noisy team of canines to your traditional oak toboggan. Here in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories, dog sledding is a classic Northern experience. Zip between the snow-scalloped spruce forests to places you could never reach by car, foot or ski, and marvel at the relationship between the musher and their tail-wagging best friends. Relive this ancient mode of Arctic travel and take the time to get to know the distinct canine personalities, from the pace-setting ‘lead dog’ and the collaborative ‘swing dogs’, to the hard-working ‘wheel dogs’. North of 60 Aurora Adventures outside the city of Yellowknife offers day and evening dog sledding tours, ending with wild tea and bannock in a traditional heated tee-pee.
There’s something truly special about Quebec’s vast snow-cocooned wilderness. Deep in the heart of the Saguenay Fjord, 3.5 hours from Quebec City, a spectacular Nordic dream is waiting to come true. Discover the ultimate feeling of freedom as you traverse the landscape with Entre Chien et Loup, stay in the cosy inn, La Grangette, and get to know the unique malamutes crossed with wolves. Alternatively, head to the stunning Malbaie region and embark on a three or five-day dog mushing expedition with Descente Malbaie deep into the mountainous backcountry of the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park, staying in rustic forest cabins along the way. Prefer to stay closer to the cosmopolitan urban centres? Head to the Laurentians, just an hour from Montreal, and become a musher for a day or a weekend with Laurel Adventure Nature.