A day (or night) out on the trails with a team of huskies is one of the unique adventures available here in the northland and we’ve had a quite a few guests stay with us over the past few weeks on their own dog sledding adventures! From a introductory few hours out on the trails to rigorous multi-day Outward Bound courses, there’s plenty of options for visitors interested in experiencing Minnesota winter from the back of a sled.
Sled dogs have a special place in my life. When I was a little girl my family lived on a farm about 15 miles from the B&B. My father was an outdoorsy guy who would dive in to new projects (I take after him!) and living out in the woods was his master project. We lived in a little farmhouse that was heated by a woodburning stove with all of our cooking done on the woodstove and all of the water brought in from the well. There wasn’t any electicity and for most of the time that we lived on the farm, dad had his own pack of sled dogs. He worked with them during the summer and read books on mushing by lamplight. He experimented with steaming and bending the wood for the dogsleds and used an old treadle Singer to stitch yards of heavy nylon webbing and fleece into harnesses for the dogs (took after him there, too!) We had one special dog, Mukwa, who was dad’s first husky. Mukwa is the Ojibwe word for bear and he matched his name — a giant, gentle dog who was the only part of the pack who got to come into the house and snuggle with the humans.
While Jeff and I haven’t had the chance for a dogsledding adventure of our own, we’ve enjoyed the stories from our guests and hope to get out for a few hours on the trail sometime soon! If you’re interested in your own sledding adventure, here are a few options to fit your taste for adventure. Don’t forget to schedule a few nights at Northern Comfort to relax after your trip!
Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge — Over 30 Years Experience
Wintergreen is one of Ely’s most established dog sledding guides, with over 30 years experience and a lodge devoted to sledding trips. At Wintergreen you can choose from day trips, three and four night trips with chef-prepared meals served in lakeside cabins or Arctic treks to Greenland, the North Pole and other rugged destinations.
Fees for the trips range from a few hundred for day trips to thousands of dollars for the multi-night fully provisioned adventures. The staff will help you make sure you have everything you need from travel arrangements to winter gear. And make sure to visit the sister company, Wintergreen Northern Wear in Ely. It’s a lovely, cool shop with the Wintergreen line of outwear as well as complimentary up north gear.
More information on Wintergreen’s website.
Chilly Dogs Sled Dog Trips — A Day Tripper’s Adventure
Looking for a day trip experience? Then check out Chilly Dogs tours. This family-run business has a ton of experience with introducing first-time mushers to the sport. They work with the U.S. Forest Service and hold a U.S.F.S. Guide Permit. The staff and guides at Chilly Dogs Sled Dog Trips have a wealth of knowledge about the natural environment and wilderness travel and safety. Expect a thorough introduction to the dogs and sledding basics before heading out on the trail and enjoy hot cocoa and treats at the cabin when you’re done with your adventure. Tours available for around $150 per person.
More information on the Chilly Dogs website.
White Wilderness – Yurt Sled Adventures
Experience the Northwoods in true back country style with White Wilderness and their unique Yurt dog sledding trips. Choose from one or more nights away, on the trails during the day with evenings in a yurt, a round semi-portable tent, with a rich history from the nomadic people central-Asia and Mongolia. White Wilderness puts mushers up in their insulated, heated yurt outfitted with tables, chairs and cots with pads and winter sleeping bags for sleeping as well as a latrine for when nature calls. Six people can comfortably co-exist in the yurt. Multi-day inclusive tours are a few thousand dollars per participant.
More information on the White Wilderness website
Outward Bound – Experience, Education and Pushing Your Limits
One of our recent guests scheduled a full, weeklong backwoods Outward Bound dog sled experience, followed by a few nights relaxing with us at the B&B and then headed back out with a group of friends on one of the Wintergreen Lodge sledding tours. Her stories from the backwoods were amazing! Outward Bound programs are true educational experiences where participants learn the basics of winter camping, animal care and breaking the trail. Each participant even gets a chance to spend a full night solo while the rest of the group sets up camp close by! The Outward Bound experience isn’t for the faint of heart… nights are spent under the stars with a tarp groundcover and sleeping bags for warmth. Our guest assured us she was definitely warm enough! If you love true adventure and testing your limits, then check out Outward Bound.
More information on the Voyageur Outward Bound website