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PLANNING YOUR MULTI-DAY
DOG SLEDDING TOUR
What area of Alaska would you like to explore?
The ancient ridges of the White Mountains National Recreation Area? Mystical Interior Alaska rivers, bogs, and hot springs? The stunning mountains of the Denali Region? The mountain-framed landscapes of the Susitna River Region and Iditarod Trail? Or the unbelievably dramatic Arctic tundra and granite spires of the Brooks Range? Each region differs drastically from the other in offerings and landscape. The Interior trips are more technical than the Denali trips or the Susitna trips, which both follow relatively mellow landscapes. Concerned about your abilities? You are probably more suited for this than you think. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns and we will guide you through a series of questions designed to pinpoint your comfort level.
When to visit? The dog sledding season in Alaska starts in December and runs through April. The amount, or lack thereof, of daylight, is something many do not consider when planning a trip to Alaska in the winter.
In December, Fairbanks has only about four hours of daylight. That being said, those four hours are bookended on either side by hours of incredible sunrises and sunsets. The light in Alaska, while brief, is astounding. That, coupled with long nights lit by shimmering aurora, make visiting Alaska in the depth of winter a more appealing prospect than at first thought.
The sun comes back in full force in February. The land is still cold, but the hoarfrost glitters in the light as we cross wintry landscapes. By the beginning of March, we have twelve hours of daylight and the hoarfrost only makes a brief appearance before melting under the heat of the spring sun.
Spring Equinox toward the end of March is often an ideal time for aurora viewing. For aurora hunters, we recommend visiting the White Mountains or Tolovana Hot Springs at any point between December and March. For sightseeing, we recommend dog sledding on the Denali Highway in February or March. April is for the Arctic — a musher’s heaven on earth, with endless mountain snowscapes, unlimited trails, ridges dotted with migrating caribou, sixteen hours of daylight, and hot midday sunshine to bask in.
What kind of accommodations will you be most comfortable with?
Our Aurora Overnights utilize Arctic Oven Tents, a roomy and luxurious tent (it’s 6'3" at the top), equipped with a small stove that turns the space into a cozy and warm retreat from the outside temperatures. These tents are famous for being a comfortable 70F inside when it's -40F outside. The stove runs all night and extra blankets on the beds ensure a warm, cozy night of “glamping.” On our expeditions that utilize an Arctic Oven, we do not run the stove all night. We let the stove die down overnight, but you will be cozy in the ultra-cold weather sleeping bags we provide.
Our multi-day trips to Tolovana Hot Springs and the White Mountains Cabin Overnight utilize cozy hand-built log cabins. Cabins are the epitome of “rustic luxury.” Spacious and warm, the log cabins we use on our tours are small, with an open floor plan, small kitchen, large wood stove, and bunks and/or a loft.
We also offer a more luxurious lodge to lodge experience that combines two nights of Arctic Oven camping on the approach and return with the main accommodations being private rooms at full-service (i.e. running water) remote Alaskan lodges along the Denali Highway or Iditarod Trail. Our Brooks Range trips offer comfortable accommodations in small cabins at an Arctic off-grid wilderness retreat.
You will need to book your own accommodations pre and post-trip. Hotel pickup/drop-off pre and post-departure are included in your trip. Please make sure your accommodations are in Fairbanks (not North Pole, Ester, or Salcha). It is most convenient for us if you stay on the northeast side of town. We recommend Moose Manor B&B, Minnie Street B&B, Aurora Lodge, Clarion Hotel, Springhill Suites, the Westmark, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, & the Hampton Inn. The night of your trip orientation we will provide a meal & lodging.
Deposit and Payment
For multi-day tours, we require a non-refundable deposit of $999 to reserve your spot. The remainder is due 60 days prior to the trip start date or within 2 days of your booking when your booking is under 60 days. For more details, see Booking Terms and Conditions. Please pay your deposit and final balance inside your Traveller Portal or email us for your magic link.
Booking & Cancellation Policy
For multi-day trips, we require a non-refundable deposit of $999 to reserve your spot. Trip payment is due in full 60 days prior to the trip date. Cancellations must be made in writing. If a cancellation is received 61 or more days from the trip date, credit for the deposit will be issued and any additional paid balance refunded. For cancellations within 60 days from the trip date, deposits and payments are given as credit. No refund or credit for cancellations received less than 30 days prior to the trip date. Please see Booking Terms & Conditions for more details.
Trip Cancellation on Our End
Arctic Dog Adventure Co. reserves the right to cancel a tour for any reason. In the rare case, Arctic Dog Adventure Co. cancels a trip, we will refund you in full. Refund is limited to funds directly paid to Arctic Dog Adventure Co. and will not include expenses incurred in your trip planning process. We reserve the right to refuse any participant participation. We also reserve the right to cancel a trip due to a lack of participants. No reimbursement is provided for trips postponed, adjusted, or cancelled due to dangerous or inclement weather.
If you think your guides did a great job, a tip of 5-10% per person is standard (and very much appreciated).
We cap our trips at4 or 6 people, depending on the trip.
All trips will have you fly into the Fairbanks International Airport, except for the Susitna River Retreat, for which you’ll fly into Anchorage. We recommend arriving in Fairbanks the day before your trip starts. We will pick you up from your hotel on the morning of the starting date. We will arrive back in Fairbanks on the evening of the last day of your trip. Arrival time is dependent on unpredictable factors such as weather, trail, and road conditions. In case of delay, do not book a flight out the same day or the next morning after your trip ends. You may appreciate a day or two to clean up, repack, and reflect on your adventure before traveling home.
Valuables & Extra Gear
You are more than welcome to keep your extra gear at Arctic Dog Adventure Co. However, I cannot guarantee its safety, or that the cat will not sleep on it. Alternatively, check with your hotel to see if they will store your luggage.
We provide a Packing List with tips on trip planning, how to dress, and lists the gear you will need for your trip.
Driving the Dog Sled
You will drive your own dog team. One person per sled. Your dog team will consist of 3-6 dogs, depending on your weight. You will not be able to ride at any point. We have a 1:3 guide/client ratio. Your guide will be in the lead, keeping a close eye on the trail ahead and also on every person, dog, and line behind them. You are responsible for keeping your sled on the trail and maintaining the speed the guide sets. As you grow more comfortable with sledding, you will start to be able to identify other variables, which will be helpful to your guide, but don’t concern yourself with anything at first other than maintaining your balance and keeping your speed constant.
We are usually on the trail for 6-8 hours, including lunch. Variables are mileage & stoppage time. Weather permitting, we will return to town late in the evening of the last day of your trip.
Our focus is on providing dog sled adventures that are challenging but empowering. We are not interested in having clients suffer or feel exhausted at the end of the day. You should be the type of tired that comes with a good long day outside; one that will give you a good sleep, but not drain you so much you cannot walk about camp or stay up to watch the aurora. Each trip differs in difficulty — check the itinerary for details. In general, we mush on established trails. No jumble ice. Anticipate glare ice on any trip. Sometimes we will need to walk in deep snow to collect firewood, etc. The dog sled is never so heavy the dogs cannot pull it up a hill themselves, although they often appreciate and sometimes need a little help (in the form of pedalling, not active pushing/walking) from their musher. Pedalling is similar to skateboarding but requires less balance as you have a sled to hold onto while you push. Think pushing/riding a shopping cart that is low to the ground and steering itself for the most part.
What we are most concerned about is your ability to take a hard fall. A technical trail will likely have you tipping over, dragging, or worse case: having your sled slip out from under you, slamming your body onto ice. You need to be strong enough to hold onto a tipped-over sled until the dogs stop (this is for the safety of the dogs). We have successfully taken out clients ranging in age from 12 to 80 on multi-day dog sled trips. If you are concerned about your ability to drive a dog team, please contact us and we can discuss it further. You are probably more capable than you think. Remember, the dogs are the athletes, and for the most part, we are mushing (and tipping over) in deep snow. If you are capable of hiking 3-5 miles over uneven hilly terrain, you are fit enough to drive a dog sled.
Please follow the provided gear list closely. Arctic Dog Adventure Co. will provide you with a “sled bag,” a waterproof bag for your personal clothing & gear. If you would like to use your own bag, it must be a 45L Patagonia Black Hole bag or similar. While we can carry all the gear needed to ensure our comfort on the trail, we still need to be weight conscious. Most of the space in your dog sled is reserved for communal gear and dog food.
For most multi-day trips, we will have a full day of orientation at Arctic Dog Adventure Co. We will pick you up from your accommodations in Fairbanks and bring you to the kennel. We will go over gear, trip expectations, Leave No Trace camping practices, pack your “sled bags,” and take a short (~1 hour) mushing trip to practice sled handling skills and techniques. We may pack up the truck before we go. Lunch and dinner will be served at the kennel and overnight lodging provided.
Food & Drink
Please let us know in advance of any food preferences or restrictions (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc.) It is our pleasure to accommodate you. Snacks are provided, in addition to three meals a day. If you would like to bring your own snacks, please restrict them to a quart ziplock (~2 lbs). It is very important to stay hydrated in cold weather. We expect you to drink, at minimum, one 32oz bottle of water per day. Two is preferable. You do not drink to thirst, you drink to take care of yourself. Alcohol is not provided on our trips but you are welcome to bring your own.
Expect zero cell reception on your trip. Your guide will carry a satellite communication device for safety/trip operations, which is not used to contact the outside world. We recommend bringing a small journal to record your impressions of the day. We encourage you to tweet/gram your thoughts when you get back to town and please tag us! @arcticdogco
There is little to no electricity available on our trips. The Denali Dream Expedition offers an opportunity to charge items on orientation night and at Clearwater Mountain Lodge. There is limited electricity available on the Brooks Range Basecamp. Concerned about keeping camera batteries charged up? We recommend bringing a portable power bank regardless of destination.
We define severe weather as -30F in the valley, a blizzard with wind warning in effect, or unsafe ice conditions. Our trips are designed for safe travel in all conditions. We have not canceled a multi-day trip due to weather, but we have rerouted, postponed, and adjusted trips due to dangerous or inclement weather.
Travel & Medical Insurance
We require travel insurance for trips longer than 1 night. We also require medical insurance. Keep in mind all of our trips operate in remote Alaska, far away from the road system. If an evacuation is necessary, it will be expensive. Travel insurance companies we recommend are SafetyWing and World Nomads.
Terms & Conditions
Be sure to thoroughly read our Booking Terms & Conditions.
We have updated our tour policies and procedures in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. We are committed to maintaining the well-being of our guides, guests, and community. For multi-day tours, we are currently requiring, at minimum, a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the trip start date and pre-trip screening. We are adhering to the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines. We require clients to sign a Covid Statement of Understanding, acknowledging the risks and the importance of working together to protect one another. We highly encourage clients to secure cancellation insurance that covers Covid-19. For our full statement, please visit our COVID-19 Precaution page.
Questions? Please send us a message using the form below, or give us a call or text at (907) 841-4694. Weekends and evenings OK, but please remember Alaska has its own time zone.