Dog Sledding in Ely, Minnesota
This was one of my most requested posts ever so I thought I'd share a quick guide with information on our dog sledding adventure in Ely, Minnesota.
I'm currently glancing at arid desert landscapes in Jordan as I write this guide to our fridge frozen lake covered expedition. So it's quite the contrast! I'll absolutely write a more detailed guide, but for now here's a quick overview.
We went with White Wilderness – they offer a bunch of different dog sledding trips. From half days, to just a single ride, to full days, or like ours, where we spent 5 days in Minnesota on a guided trip each driving our own team of 5 dogs.
Ely is the capital for dog sledding in the USA so we figured this was the place to do it!
Michael did over a years worth of research and we even stopped in on some dog sledding companies. He called all around the country looking for the best places. White Wilderness was by no means the cheapest but offered such a great experience.
After going I can say we absolutely made the right choice. Our guide, Theo, was incredible and knowledgeable and made the experience so enjoyable for us.
We also spent a bit more to rent the gear from them, and I'm so glad we did. Being from Texas and never really seeing below zero temperatures we just don't own heavy enough coats. We brought along thermal underwear (2 pairs – these were great and kept me so warm), liner gloves (these let you use your phone while wearing them), hot hands, beanie, and wool socks (2 pairs). The rest we rented from them: a jacket, pants, face and neck covering, and the warmest coat I've ever had on!
When you're sledding you're moving a lot, keeping your balance, and even helping the dogs up the hill. I was never cold.
Sleeping in a small Yurt with an even smaller heater I was worried I'd get cold with negative 33° but I stayed quite comfortable.
As far as treatment of the dogs goes I was thoroughly impressed with White Wilderness. The dogs were so friendly we could pet them as much as we wanted during stops. They were all extremely well taken care of as was evidenced immediately after checking out the facility.
The trip itself was fast paced. We got there, got on our gear, learned some safety procedures and harnessed up the dogs!
There's a lot you get to do on your own- some of which is challenging but rewarding. Every day, Michael and I would harness up our own team of 5 rambunctious dogs. Then we'd set out for the day, going about 15 or so miles each day. We'd stop for lunch half way and had a few points where we'd all catch up to check on everyone.
I often rode in the middle with the guide leading us with her team of 7 dogs in the front and Michael in the back. Driving your own team means you are in control. You go as fast or slow as you want and if you lose control it's up to you to correct it. You learn fast how to avoid trees in narrow passages and to let the dogs take the lead in the slushy snow over the frozen lakes.
in addition to harnessing the dogs we dug a hole in the frozen lake to get fresh water, fed the dogs, and set up camp each day.
The food was surprisingly delicious. We'd make our own fires by gathering wood and lighting it up right in the snow. We had shrimp scampi, steak, chowder, and roasted bratwurst.
Our most memorable night had to be the night run. I was pretty apprehensive to do this, because you really can't see, but it was definitely an adrenaline rush! It was our last run of the trip and the dogs knew the exact way home, it was such a thrill!
I couldn't recommend this experience enough. This was one of Michael's lifelong bucket list dreams come true but I think I enjoyed it just as much.