Mushing in Canada

  • 06 Husky puppies pulling your sled
  • 1000 mile Yukon Quest dogsled race
  • 06 months of winter

Dogsledding is a traditional Canadian winter way to travel. Grab a harness and help hitch up the dogs. Pull up your parka hood, tuck under a blanket and hang on as you zoom across a snowy rollercoaster landscape. Steer off-trail into virgin powder on a winding forest trail. See icy waterfalls and vast glaciers. Glide across a frozen sea. Stop for a picnic lunch amid dramatic mountain peaks with caribou in your sights. Warm your hands by a wood stove. Listen for howling Arctic wolves. Learn to run the dogs yourself. Mush by moonlight. Cheer on the professionals at the Yukon Quest, one of the world’s toughest sled-dog races. Join Inuit folk at their traditional mode of transport, then share caribou stew and bannock bread. Try heli-dogsledding or ski-joring - donning skis and harnessing yourself to a dog team. Dog sled for a half-hour, a full day or even overnight, sleeping in igloos, yurts, old time prospector tents, log cabins and luxury lodges. Finish the day with stories from locals about a wintery lifestyle over a fondue dinner or sipping hot, spiced Glühwein watching Mother Nature’s light show—the Northern Lights—dance green and red across the sky.

Alberta

  • Mush your own dogsled team on a two-day winter expedition in the Rocky Mountains, bedding down at night in a fur-lined tent.
  • Sign up for Mushing 101 in Banff National Park at the chateau-like Banff Springs Hotel.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

  • Soar on a bush plane to Blachford Lake Lodge to sled through wilderness trails before slipping into a hot tub, the perfect spot to watch the Aurora Borealis shimmy ghostly green across the sky.

Nunavut

  • Glide across the Arctic sea ice and snowy tundra on a dog-sledding expedition with Polar Sea Adventures in Pond Inlet, driven and guided by an Inuit hunter. Sleep in an igloo or tent.
  • Watch snowmobile races during Nunavut’s springtime Toonik Tyme Festival, then harness yourself to a sled dog and join a “skijoring” race.

Ontario

  • Helicopter into pristine wilderness one hour north of Toronto with Winterdance Dogsled Tours and hit wintry trails with your own dogsled team of Siberian huskies. Stop trailside for a hot campfire lunch, then fly back to the city before day’s end.

Quebec

  • Take a short training session, then drive your own team of sled dogs on the historic Plains of Abraham during Québec City’s Winter Carnaval, the world’s biggest winter festival.

Yukon

  • Learn to mush your own dogs from a pro at Beck’s Kennels during daytime and watch the shimmering colours of the northern lights in the dark of night.
  • Celebrate winter at Whitehorse’s zany Sourdough Rendezvous where Huskies not only race one another, but even face-off in a wacky howling contest. Then learn to mush yourself.
  • Head to Whitehorse for the Yukon Quest Fest, a week-long celebration of dog sledding before the start of the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile odyssey through the Northern wilderness. Meet the Mushers, attend the start banquet, then catch up with the action as teams pass a few easily accessible check-points - including Dawson City where there is a 36-hour layover - before disappearing back into the forest. Meanwhile, take your own dogsledding trip.
  • Hitch up the Huskies and take a ride with Muktuk Adventures in the serene landscapes around Whitehorse.

Weather

  • Winter temperatures vary greatly with altitude and latitude.
  • Expect temperatures in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut to be generally colder than Southern Canada. -10°C to -25°C is not uncommon, but the air is dry and crisp and often feels warmer than the thermometer indicates.
  • Winters are shorter in Southern Canada although the Rockies have a longer snow season. Expect temperatures of -5°C to -15°C and snow storms that may possibly delay your outings.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
When to go
  • The dogsledding season in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut is from October to April.
  • Northern latitudes mean short days from November through January although the dark nights offer a better chance to see the Northern Lights.
  • In Southern Canada, depending on the winter conditions, dogsledding can be enjoyed from November through March.
  • The altitude of the Rockies or other mountain ranges offer a longer Southern sledding season.
  • Spring is a good time for dogsledding since days are longer and warmer.
Need to know
  • Dashing through the snow means cold winds, especially on your face: pack warm layers of clothing, warm boots, gloves and a hat.
  • Consider taking hand warmers to tuck into your mitts.
  • Some outfitters offer heavy winter clothing and insulated boots for rental. Check and reserve in advance.
  • While it’s fun to go on a ride, it’s a whole different experience to work with the dogs yourself. Inquire if mushing lessons are available.
  • Especially in spring, bring sunglasses and sunscreen as the sun reflecting off the snow can be very strong.
  • Check out the Northern Lights forecast.