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Dog Sledding & Travel in Alaska

How Much Does it Cost to Go Dog Sledding in Alaska and is it Worth the Cost?

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Dog sledding in Alaska is an experience on many travelers' bucket lists. The draw is often the desire to explore the vast beauty of the Last Frontier in a sustainable and culturally connected way. But is a dog sledding experience worth the cost?

In this blog post, we are going to look into what dog sledding in Alaska is like, how much going dog sledding costs, and clarify if the cost is worth it.

What is Dog Sledding in Alaska Like?

is dog sledding in alaska worth it? Yes, to mush through snowy landscapes

It’s unique and somewhat magical.

There’s something special about feeling the power of a dog team strum through the handlebars, the thrilling excitement of a barking team ready to go, the unique pleasure of being swiftly pulled across snow-covered valleys and forests; feeling the flush of cold mountain air against your face; hearing only the sound of paws making contact with snow; seeing some of Alaska's most stunning scenery while discovering what it takes to become a musher…these things alone make going on such a trip truly unforgettable.

Add in some northern lights, quiet moments with your sweet dog team, and frosty landscapes glistening under the cold winter sun; it’s pretty special.

It’s an immersive winter experience.

While the feeling of dog sledding can be quite magical, the weather, terrain and safety considerations are very real. The cold in Alaska can be extreme, especially during mid-winter but with the right clothing, gear and guidance, you can stay comfortable, even at below zero temperatures!

Read our other post What to Wear Dog Sledding to review our top recommendations for how to stay warm while dog sledding.

is dog sledding in alaska worth it? yes, to meet Siberian Huskies!

It’s a team sport.

Meeting the loyal, hardworking, and friendly sledding dogs is an experience you'll never forget. Alaskan Huskies, Siberian Huskies, and Alaskan Malamutes can make up a team that can range from 4-16 members in size. They are very strong and driven by instinct to run through the snow-filled wilderness.

Each dog is an individual. Some dogs are highly affectionate and love to receive pats and cuddles while others are shy and simply prefer to show off their strength and running skills. Spending multiple days with a team of sled dogs will reveal their unique personalities - the bond between musher and dog is truly special.

You’re also usually sharing trail with other mushers in your group and other trail users. The guides have to keep an eye on the sleds, passengers, and all of the dogs, so everyone has to work together to ensure the dogs are safe, the group stays together and everyone is communicating their needs.

It’s fast and it can be physically demanding.

Sled dogs can travel at an average of 20 mph over shorter distances, and 10 to 14 mph on longer distances on well-groomed trails. Even in poor trail conditions, sled dogs can manage 6 to 7 miles per hour.

While the dogs do most of the work, dog sledding is still an active physical experience. Out on the trail, you may have to help push the sled up steeper hills, steer the sled around corners, and right-tipped over sleds. If you join a ‘mush your own team’ tour or expedition, you’ll be standing on the back, using the foot brake, helping to harness wiggly dogs, and moving around in the snow.

For a non-physical experience, you can go for a ride.

Travel by dog team is, in our opinion, the ideal way to explore the North. You are going fast enough to cover a lot of ground, but slow enough you can still absorb the landscape passing by.

For a fuller understanding of dog sledding, read our other post - What to Expect When Dog Sledding in Alaska.

is dog sledding in alaska worth it? Woman kneeling with 3 huskies, fairbanks Alaska.

How much will Dog Sledding in Alaska Cost?

The cost of dog sledding in Alaska varies a lot. The cost will depend on where you are going, how long you’re going for, the time of year, and what other services are included. Other factors that will affect prices are tour service level, company sustainability initiatives, and quality of care given to the dogs.

The first important question to consider around cost is “What type of adventure you are looking to go on?”. Day tours are less expensive than multi day trips and packages with less included will be cheaper than packages with more inclusions like transportation, accommodations, and meals.

The second question is “Where am I going?” Mushing in remote locations like Gates of the Arctic National Park will cost more than mushing in Fairbanks. Remote places in Alaska are costly to access, service with food and equipment, and require a lot more preparation time.

A third question you will want to reflect on is “What kind of tour operator do I want to support?”. Look for accreditation certificates like Adventure Travel Trade Association, Adventure Green Alaska, or memberships with travel and tourism industry associations.

The amount of preparation and planning required for a successful dog sledding tour is extensive (and expensive). Local guides and tour operators must provide food and vet care year-round for the dogs, they must be experienced at managing the pack and sleds, they must know the local area's terrain and weather, as well as have all the appropriate gear for themselves, and their guests. Then to get out into the backcountry, you must drive, haul trailers, rent cabins and manage all the logistics of getting people, dogs and gear there. Thus, dog sledding can be quite costly.

Now that you have a general idea of what drives costs for dog sledding let’s get into the actual costs.

Costs for Dog Sled Rides & Day Tours

Dog sled rides, kennel tours, cart tours and drive-your-own team day tours are the most commonly offered experiences and the most affordable options. If you’re exploring Alaska by cruise ship, these are the kinds of dog sledding tours that will be offered as shore excursions.

Day tours can range from 30 min to 6+ hours so duration is the main variable that affects pricing of these types of tours.

Key inclusions to watch for that will affect pricing;

  • Food. Are warm drinks, snacks or lunch provided or not?

  • Winter clothing. Are parkas or snow boots included or not?

  • Transportation. Does the operator pick you up or do you have to drive to their kennel? Do you have to take a helicopter to a glacier?

½ Day Tours

  • Duration: from 30min - 4 hours

  • Price Range: from $89-$140 per person for sled rides where you drive yourself to the kennel and up to $550 per person for helicopter access dog sledding with lunch.

Full-Day Tours

  • Duration: 4-10 hours

  • Price Range: from $500 per person usually including lunch to $1000 per person for all-inclusive, private experiences.

Explore all of Alaska’s Dog Sled Tour Operators to find the best option for you.

Dog sledding in Gates of the Arctic National Park.

Costs for Multi-Day Dog Sled Adventures

If the experience you’re seeking is to completely immerse yourself in dog sledding and the Alaskan wilderness, then a multi-day tour is for you. Multi day tours offer the highest probability of seeing the northern lights. More expensive than day tours, these experiences often include accommodations, transportation, meals, lessons, gear, and guide services.

Key inclusions to watch for that will further affect pricing;

  • Type of transportation - will you fly or drive to the kennel or trailhead?

  • Accommodation service level - luxury backcountry lodge or rustic cabins with an outhouse?

  • Food quality level - 3-course dinner with wine or MREs over an open fire?

Cabin and Lodge-based Multi Day Dog Sled Tours

take a helicopter to go dog sledding.

Costs for Helicopter Dog Sled Tours

During the summer, on-snow dog sledding happens only up in higher elevations on glaciers - yes, this is glacier dog sledding! Glacier dog sled tours require helicopter transportation which means these day tours are more expensive but also include an incredible flightseeing helicopter tour!

  • Duration: from 1-3 hours

  • Price Range: $550 to $800 per person

Costs for Drive Your Own Dog Team Tours & Mushing Schools

Experience the thrill of driving your own dog sled and get hands-on experience working with the dogs. These exciting adventures offer the opportunity to learn sled handling, meet and harness your very own team of enthusiastic working dogs, and embark on a trail ride mushing your own team. “Mushing School” is a term often used to mean “drive your own team” and is still a ½ or full day tour.

  • Duration: from 3-8 hours

  • Price Range: $299 to $800 per person

Is Dog Sledding in Alaska Worth It?

Now that you have an idea of what dog sledding in Alaska will cost, let's cover whether it’s worth it or not. Firstly, we have to preface that ‘worth it’ is very subjective, and below, we’ll share a few traits and values that can help you determine if it will feel ‘worth it’ to you.

Learn how to harness huskies on our Hut to Hut Mushing Adventure.
Learn how to harness huskies on our Hut to Hut Mushing Adventure.

Yes, if you enjoy adventures and learning new things.

Dog sledding is a unique experience that appeals to people who have adventurous spirits, an appreciation for nature, and enjoy the process of learning something new. People who love animals and teamwork are especially likely to enjoy dog sledding. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as the next champion musher, any fan of dogs or winter sports can find something to appreciate in this activity.

Yes, if you like dogs.

Watching a team of sled dogs working in sync can be an awe-inspiring sight to behold. You’ll find yourself marveling at how so many different personalities can work together in perfect synchronization. Being part of such a beautiful display of harmony can leave many participants feelings inspired and connected to nature.

If you like dogs, but not winter, then perhaps the best choice is summer carting with sled dogs. This is a great way to experience the same thrill as dog sledding, but without having to brave sub-zero temperatures. The pricing for these experiences is very reasonable, so yes, we’d say it’s totally worth it.

Many people who participate in dog sledding also have the unexpected opportunity to learn about animal behavior and training techniques from experienced dog owners. This can help you gain insight into better understanding the minds of your own pets or animals that you come across in your day-to-day life.

dog sledding through snowy terrain.

Yes, if you enjoy the snowy wilderness.

If you enjoy the quiet wilderness and soft snow sounds, then dog sledding could be part of your dream vacation. Alaska’s vast wilderness provides a backdrop to an unparalleled adventure as you and your team of dogs traverse the snowy landscape.

Alaska Adventure Green logo - ecotourism

Yes, if you support eco-friendly experiences.

With dog sledding being Alaska’s state sport, an environmentally friendly way to enjoy the wilderness landscapes, a deeply historical experience, and a really unique activity, it’s no wonder why most visitors to Alaska have ‘dog sledding’ on their bucket list.

But dog sledding is also a low-impact way to experience the many remote areas of Alaska. We are the first dog sledding company in Alaska to be certified by Adventure Green Alaska as a Sustainable Tourism Business, meaning we practice economic, environmental, social and cultural sustainability. We pride ourselves in offering dog sled tours of the highest quality, while also striving to lessen our impact on our environment.

At Arctic Dog Adventure Co., we are very committed to eco-tourism ( you can read more about our philosophy here).

Yes, if you support ethical animal experiences.

Generally speaking, tours that utilize animals are not cheap. Dog sled tours are a seasonal business, which means the income produced during the tour season is needed to support the dogs during the off season as well. Sled dogs deserve a high quality of life year-round, not just during the tour season. Experiences offered by ethical dog sledding operations are usually more expensive than a non-ethically operated kennel, just on the basis of increased annual overhead costs. For recommendations on ethical dog sledding operations check out our blog post on the topic.

So, is Dog Sledding worth it?

For people who love dogs, enjoy winter sports, and want to get to know the real Alaska, then yes, a winter dog sledding experience in Alaska is absolutely worth it.

Reviewers on many dog sled operator websites say things like “best experience we had’, ‘ bucket list’ and the like. So the verdict is, YES, dog sledding in Alaska is worth it.

If you’re contemplating a dog sledding adventure in Alaska but still unsure about the cost and whether it's worth it, know that the general consensus is, yes, it’s worth it, and there is likely an experience that will fit your budget.

So there you have it - we’ve covered how much it costs to go dog sledding in Alaska, if dog sledding in Alaska is worth it, and shared some criteria to help you decide for yourself if this experience will be worth it for you.

If you’re still exploring dog sledding in Alaska options be sure to check out our other posts.

  1. Best Dog Sledding Experiences in Alaska

  2. Where can you go Dog Sledding in Alaska

So, do you think dog sledding in Alaska is worth the cost?

Comment below and share your thoughts with us.

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