Flying through the snowy Minnesotan countryside led by a pack of adorable and extremely athletic dogs—can you think of a better winter adventure than that? If you have never experienced dog sledding before, Minnesota is the place to be. From the north central region down the shoreline of Lake Superior, there are an abundance of outfitters available to take you on a beautiful journey across frozen lakes and through snow-dusted forests. There are also several tours closer to the Twin Cities, proving that you don’t need to head into the Northwoods to enjoy a dog-powered sleigh ride.
Before you go, make sure to pack a pair of snowboarding goggles or sunglasses, as the energetic pups can kick up snow along the ride. And don’t forget your camera—the views from your sled truly can’t be beat. If you’re concerned about the warming temperatures, the thick layers of snow and ice, especially in the colder northern regions, aren’t melting anytime soon. You can often plan your dog sledding excursion through early April (check availability on individual sites). Here are our top five dog sledding cities to start your planning for one of the most unique ways to travel and experience the beauty of winter in Minnesota.
The unofficial capital of dog sledding in Minnesota, Ely touts more dog sled trip providers than anywhere else in the world (according to the Ely Chamber of Commerce). Start your adventure at Chilly Dogs with a meet-the-dogs session and an orientation on the history of dog sledding and the Alaskan Husky breed. During your journey, adults over 15 have the opportunity to drive the sled for half the trip, with a professional guide or sledmate driving the rest of the way. At White Wolf Dogsled Trips, visitors can spend a full day mushing through Superior National Forest, or keep the fun going with a two-night camping trip and a four-night excursion with accommodations through the Grand Ely Lodge. Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge offers one-of-a-lifetime multi-day trips from beginner outings to Arctic adventures that have groups traveling through Canada and spending time with the Polar Inuit. While in Ely, don’t miss visiting the International Wolf Center, hiking to Kawishiwi Falls, and getting a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
In one of the northernmost cities on the North Shore, Grand Marais features several dog sledding outfitters to make your winter trip to Lake Superior a memorable one. Points Unknown Dog Sled Experiences puts the focus on guests getting to know the dogs through spending time on the trails with them and offering kennel tours for extra quality time. The local outfitter provides 1.5 and three-hour trips, with the exciting addition of a 1.5-hour night sledding experience. For visitors staying for a weekend getaway, take advantage of the ease Gunflint Lodge provides guests by booking their dog sledding trips through the hotel. Gunflint Lodge offers an unforgettable experience through the boreal forest with journeys ranging from 30 minutes to four hours.
Duluth is always a go-to destination for winter travelers with its downtown filled with local stores and restaurants, as well as its proximity to outdoor activities. Duluth is also a hub for dog sledding and hosts the annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, where teams battle it out to see who is top dog. The small but mighty racing team at Endurance Kennels offers a variety of affordable sled rides via their Eurohound pups, including driving your own sled dog team and a 55-minute night ride lit by headlamp or full moonlight. The local non-profit outdoor education program, Positive Energy Outdoors, has multiple dog sledding outings, perfect for small children and or your next work function.
An hour’s drive from the Twin Cities, Silent Run Adventures in Monticello provides educational demonstrations with its team of Siberian Huskies and rides through the “Big Woods” of Lake Maria State Park. Silent Run’s half day and extended adventures allow for many opportunities to view and photography the wildlife and beautiful surroundings.
Known as a horse and husky homestead, HHH Ranch offers outdoor entertainment all year long with horse rides in the warmer months and dog sledding in the winter. Located just outside Hastings (about half an hour from the Twin Cities), Hastings Huskies & Horses (HHH) Ranch makes it possible for families and visitors to experience the joy of dog sledding without the road trip. Visitors can take an hour-long ride, listen to an educational program, and play with the puppies on a kennel tour.