Every year, mushers from around the world travel 1,000 miles between Whitehorse, Yukon, and Fairbanks, Alaska, in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. With dogged determination, musher and canine athletes overcome cold temperatures and gruelling distances while covering some of the most pristine wilderness in North America.
In February, Yukon tour operators regularly package the Yukon Quest race as part of their own dogsledding tour packages. Visitors are welcomed at the “Meet the Mushers” banquet, where musher and team take centre stage, telling tales of the race. In a room full of northern characters, you will catch a rare glimpse of a culture still thriving in the North.
Whether you are into trying dogsledding for an hour, a day, or a week, there are numerous packages to choose from. All tours start with an orientation to your team, overview of the sled, harnessing of your dogs, and the fundamentals of handling this raw, natural, dog power. Within minutes you’ll be whisked away with your own team and will be enthusiastically yelling the commands Gee! (left), Haw! (right) and Hike (go)! Not ready to manage the gangline? No worries; your guides can bundle you up in the basket for a ride from the dogs’ perspective.
Caring for your dogs is all part of the experience and you will quickly develop a respect and natural bond with your four-legged friends. Choose an overnight trip and help get them packed tight for the night while you cozy up in your luxury lodge, remote cabin, or wall tent; many packages offer these unique adventures. A glass of merlot, the crackle and pop of your wood stove, and a belly full of five-star cuisine tops off the night—make sure to save some of your senses for Yukon’s evening entertainment, the northern lights.
Put the winter blahs behind you and bring out your inner dog whisperer. It’s fun for the whole family, and only a few hours away from Vancouver and Calgary. Just imagine the bragging rights back in the city with having mushed on the same trails and with the same dogs used on the Yukon Quest.