Dog sledding in Canada is truly a thrilling adventure. Originating approximately 4000 years ago, before snowmobiles and airplanes, dog sledding was the main mode of transportation in Northern Canada. Sled dogs were used to transport everything from mail to food and medicine. Nowadays, dog sledding is enjoyed more as a sport rather than out of necessity and has recently gained popularity. A true Canadian dog sledding experience is in the far north. However, there are many dog sledding adventures to be enjoyed in other parts of Canada as well.
Herschel Island, Yukon
Hershel Island is situated off the north coast of the Yukon Territory in the Beaufort Sea. To the north lies the Arctic Ocean and, close by, the permanent pack ice. To the south, is the mainland, where one can see the British Mountains. When visiting this beautiful part of the world, one will see mountains and valleys and lakes amidst a spectacular landscape.
Here, the weather conditions can be extreme. It is not uncommon for the temperatures to be as cold as -25 degrees Celsius and the coastal winds are legendary. Dog sledding expeditions in these parts is demanding and one must be prepared to wait out coastal storms in a tent for at least 24 hours. Multi-day dog sledding adventures include sleeping in arctic tents, which are built specifically for these weather conditions. Small stoves bring the inside tent temperatures up to 25 degrees Celsius for a few hours in the morning and evening.
Despite the wind and the cold, one can see quite a bit of wildlife: arctic foxes, ringed seals, polar bears, muskoxen, caribou, and even grizzly bears. Smaller mammals include arctic shrews, tundra voles and lemmings.
Kluane National Park, Yukon
Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada is situated in the southwest corner of the Yukon Territory and borders Alaska and British Columbia. It is a large park and covers an area of 21,980 square kilometres. Kluane Park is a land of precipitous, high mountains, massive icefields and lush valleys which result in a diverse group of wildlife species and plants. Mount Logan (5959 m/19,545 ft), Canada’s highest peak is also located here. Dog sledding adventures in Kluane National Park are typically multi day and include accommodations in heated arctic tents or log cabins. Views of the beautiful St. Elias Mountains and wildlife such as moose, wolves and lynx can be seen. At night the northern lights are absolutely spectacular.
Travel further south, to the Rocky Mountains, and glide through forests of towering black spruce and drink in the crisp, clean mountain air of the pristine wilderness. Magnificent mountain views and aquamarine lakes are to be seen, along with watching wildlife of white tail or mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, caribou, wolves and coyotes. Smaller creatures can be seen as well, such as: hoary marmots, pikas, bald eagles and the endangered harlequin ducks.
Whistler, British Columbia
Most dog sledding expeditions are lead through the grandiose old growth forest of the Callaghan Valley, 15km south of Whistler village. This rolling subalpine terrain receives 40% more snow than Whistler mountain during the winter season. The valley offers phenomenal scenery and over 100 km of trails which lead over to three mountain peaks and three frozen lakes.
Wildlife within the Callaghan Valley include: cougars, bobcats, minks, coyotes, Douglas squirrels, weasels and wolves.
Sun Peaks, British Columbia
Dog sledding tours in the Sun Peaks explore the backcountry of the resort area amongst three main mountains: Tod and Sundance Mountains and Tod Mountain. Wind through forest trails and local lakes and spot wildlife such as: Canadian lynx, cougars, coyotes, marmots, moose, mule deer, raccoon, red fox, bald eagle, chickadee, downy woodpecker, great horned owl, grey jay, red tailed hawk, ruffed grouse and peregrine falcon.
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
Algonquin Provincial Park is located within the Canadian Shield and is Ontario’s oldest and best known park. There are two dog sledding trails: Sunday Lake Trail and North Algonquin Trail. Walking is not allowed along these trails, as deep tracks can cause injuries to the sled dogs. Any skiers or snowshoers must yield to dog sledders.
The essence of Algonquin Park is the rugged Canadian Shield with maple and pine-clad hills, rocky ridges and thousands of interconnected lakes, rivers and streams. This park offers an enormous amount of rich and diverse plant and animal species.
It is home to over 40 mammals, over 30 kinds of amphibians and reptiles and more than 130 breeding birds. Wildlife to be seen include: moose, white-tailed deer, wolves and beaver to name just a few. The park is one of the last places where one can find the original hemlock, sugar maple and yellow birch forests in Ontario. Trees as old as 430 years old using growth ring counts and up to 610 years old using estimation techniques are found in Algonquin’s old-growth forests.
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