Mid-winter dogsledding in Minnesota

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine

Week of February 4 — February 10, 1999
In search of the West Coast’s best whitewater in June
Mid-winter dogsledding in Minnesota
November on the Inca Trail

Mid-winter dogsledding in Minnesota

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Question: I'm looking for a five-to-seven-day dogsledding trip, preferably in the U.S., and I definitely want to camp. Shooting for February or March. What do you know? Thanks!

Robert Lee
Bedford, Indiana

Adventure Adviser: Having lived in the Northwoods for four years, I find the thought of one more night in a sub-zero nylon cave rather frightening. But if you want to camp on a dogsledding trip, there certainly are people out there who would love to take you out on their sled for a few days. Besides, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I suggest taking a trip up to northeastern Minnesota, specifically the Boundary Waters, Gunflint Trail, or Ely areas. All three offer great dogsledding trips through breath-taking deciduous forests and frozen lakes. You’ll find the locals to be a hardy, honest, and able bunch, who love to be outside and have a good time. You’ll also find that after a few days of exposure, the biting arctic gusts won’t bother you as much as you thought they would and you’ll be used to cold fingers and toes. Few things are more rewarding than relaxing in a sauna after a long day on the sled.

As far as outfitters go, you have a number of options and all offer both day trips and overnight excursions:

  • Boundary Company Trekking: 800-322-8327
  • Gunflint Lodge: 800-328-3325
  • Arleigh Jorgenson (local guide and expert): 800-TUG-LINE
  • Outward Bound: 800-321-HIKE
As your guides will surely explain, the importance of warm clothing can’t be over-emphasized. Avoid cotton, for starters, and stock up on wool, polyester and other good cold-weather layers. Good boots are also a must. And if you’re in the market to get a new pair of winter boots, try Steger mukluks. Styled after footwear originated by northern Native Americans, they’re made with moosehide and an incredibly warm felt liner. Finding a toastier, lighter, more comfortable boot is next to impossible. And they look cool, too. Call 800-685-5857 for a catalog.

If you’re interested in actually learning how to mush, some of the above outfitters offer instruction as well. From what I’ve heard, one can’t go on a dogsledding trip without falling helplessly in love with the dogs and the feeling of swooshing through the winter woods at high speeds. So have fun and stay warm!

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