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Winter Dog Sledding in Alaska

Amazing tales revolve around the relationship between mushers and their dogs, and together they have saved cities, inspired untold millions and carved out a permanent niche in Alaska’s history.

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Ride with dog sled team across an Alaska meadow.
Ride with dog sled team across an Alaska meadow. ©Nicole Geils
A reliable dog team and well-crafted sled were vital for Alaska’s indigenous people and gold-seeking sourdoughs. Even today, when the snow flies, dog sledding becomes Alaska’s premier winter sport and adventure.
 
Winter is the prime time for dog sledding. Champion mushers are making final preparations for big winter races, but take time to open their kennels to visitors and share their passion. Winter kennel tours and dog sledding trips offer travelers the chance to not only to ride, but to learn for themselves how to run a team. Other companies have created custom overnight and multi-day tours that allow visitors to become the driver, and try out other winter fun before and after mushing.
 
The opportunities start just to the east of Anchorage. The hillside trails in the nearby Chugach Mountains offer miles of wide, wooded routes for exploration by dogsled with experienced pros. Many mushers live just north of the city in the Matanuska Valley or south of the city in Girdwood and Seward, putting kennel visits within easy reach for day trips.
 

Run with the Big Dogs

Two big winter events offer present a huge opportunity to see the best racers compete. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race® begins in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday in March. More than 60 mushers and their dog teams rush down Fourth Avenue. The scene is electric, as more than a thousand dogs leap and bark in anticipation. This annual race stretches across more than 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome and pits mushers and dog teams against the roughest, most beautiful terrain Alaska has to offer.
 
The Anchorage Fur Rendezvous features a different type of race. The World Championship Sled Dog Race is a competition for the best sprint mushers. The Iditarod holds the title for endurance racing, but the Rondy sprint races are better known for their fast-paced action unfolds over three days and entirely on a course in Anchorage.