Dog sledding originated in Arctic indigenous communities, with evidence from Zhokhov Island in the Siberian Sea revealing that dogs and sled technology were used by the Sumnagin Mesolithic Culture at least 8,000 years ago. Even today, it’s still deeply ingrained in the local culture. Some rural Alaskan communities still use dog sledding to get around in the winter!
Outside of transportation, dog sledding is also a form of competitive sport or entertainment. The chance to race across the snow with a team of talented huskies is a dream come true for many visitors to Alaska! But that doesn’t mean it can only be enjoyed during the snowy winter season—there are options for summer dog sledding, too.
For visitors to the 49th state, dog sledding tours can provide a glimpse into Alaskan culture while enjoying the thrill that comes with being pulled by the beautiful animals while immersed in spectacular beauty. Of course, meeting friendly dogs is a big plus and brings the opportunity for even more fantastic photo ops.
The question isn’t whether or not to go dog sledding in Alaska. It’s a matter of which time of year will provide the most unforgettable experience!
Summer Dog Sledding
Most people visit Alaska when the weather is warmer and the days are longer, between June and early September. Going dog sledding during this time can perfectly pair with your family’s summer vacation.
Even without snow, there are plenty of opportunities with tours that provide insight into the sport’s history, how the dogs are trained, and time to get to know the dogs. Most summer dog sledding tours are located near sea level with no snow around, so you’ll climb into a dry sled on wheels to experience it as the dogs pull you along on a dirt trail.
Of course, dog sledding minus the white wonderland may not be the iconic experience you imagined. But did you know that you can actually go summer dog sledding in the snow?
While most aren’t aware, you and your family can join a helicopter dog sled excursion that includes summer dog sledding across the snow. You’ll fly up to a glacier where there is snow year-round, then meet up with the dog sledding team camped nearby. The breathtaking bird’s-eye view from the helicopter is just another highlight of this magical adventure!
You’ll be outfitted with water-resistant outer layers and glacier boots before Alpine Air Alaska’s glacier dog sledding tour, but don’t forget an extra layer for warmth, your sunglasses, and a camera! With brilliant snowy landscapes and towering mountain peaks, you’ll find countless fantastic family photo opportunities during your tour. Don’t forget to take pictures with the dogs, puppies, and sled, too!
Winter Dog Sledding
Winter is the traditional time for dog sledding, and it’s an activity that perhaps screams “Alaska” like no other.
With more snow across the lower elevations, there’s no need for a helicopter for a dogsledding tour in Winter. You can find winter tours near Anchorage, but you’ll need to be prepared for extremely cold temperatures and shorter daylight hours.
The world-famous Iditarod takes place in late winter, which can make for an even more exciting dog sledding experience while following the latest on the state’s iconic dog race. To enjoy a day of dog sledding on a local tour during the Iditarod, you’ll need to time your visit right. Every year, the race starts in Anchorage on the first Saturday of March.
Otherwise, winter dog sledding can typically be enjoyed as long as there is snow on the ground, from about late November through around mid-April.
You will need to bring your winter gear for obvious reasons, although many outfitters will provide a warm parka and boots.
Plan Your Next Adventure
For an extraordinary winter or summer dog sledding adventure, choose an outfitter that’s been around long enough to develop an unparalleled reputation for quality, safety, and customer care. Dog sledding is one of the best possible ways to see Alaska, and you want the experience to live up to all your wildest expectations!
As the longest-serving helicopter operator in Southcentral Alaska, Alpine Air Alaska has been trusted since 1991. We operate a variety of award-winning tours, including flightseeing tours and summer dog sledding excursions that start with a comfortable helicopter ride. You’ll depart from the mountain town of Girdwood, which is less than a 50-minute drive from Anchorage, and soar over magnificent glaciers deep in the Alaskan backcountry on your way to the dog camp.
Your guides will be mushers trained by three-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavy, a mushing legend who trains with his dogs and team on the glacier throughout the summer. The love this highly skilled champion Iditarod team has for the dogs shines through with each adventure. It’s perfect for first-time mushers as well as experienced ones.
The mushers and their friendly Alaskan huskies will be there to welcome you as you step out of the helicopter and onto the vast snowfield surrounded by the unspoiled wilderness. You can experience firsthand what it’s like to be behind your own powerful dog team, or let one of the experts do all the work—either way, you’ll be making memories of a lifetime.
For more information or to book your summer dog sledding adventure, contact us today!