5 Tips for Planning a Dog Sled Adventure in StoweJanuary 23, 2020
by EMMA BROWNLEE
Dog sledding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people. Because sled dogs need a cold environment that offers good snow to operate, dog sledding is uncommon in the continental United States. Luckily for us in Stowe, the area offers cool temperatures, ample room to roam and lots of snow, which makes for happy huskies! If you’re looking to try dog sledding in Stowe, here are a few insider tips to prepare for your excursion:
1. Choose the right tour. Most dog sledding programs offered in the Stowe area split the experience between time on the trail, and time interacting with the dogs and learning about the sport of dog sledding. Programs range from a 30-minute introduction to a two-hour highly interactive program. Learn how to handle, harness and hitch a team while enjoying the scenic views Stowe is known for. When choosing a tour, consider which program length suits your party best, the price of each program and where the programs are located. If tour operators are fortunate enough to own a kennel with miles of quality trails, then clients will not only get more time on the trail with the dogs, they’ll also enjoy more interaction time with the team.
2. Book early. The demand for the magical experience of dog sledding is so high that most dog sled tours in Vermont sell out weeks or even months in advance. Book your adventure as soon as you make the decision!
3. Take in the rich history. The practice of using dogs to pull sleds dates back to at least 2,000 BC. The sled dog became the primary means of communication and transportation in sub-Arctic communities. Dogs helped deliver mail, food, firewood, furs, mining equipment, gold and other required supplies to and from remote towns and camps. In preparing for your adventure, consider watching the true story of Togo, the lead sled dog who helped save the town of Nome, Alaska in 1925. The movie Togo can be streamed on Disney+.
4. Prepare to get there. One thing that is an absolute must when it comes to dog sledding is quality snow! In some cases, you’ll find dog sledding programs are at high elevations farther out of town. While public transportation is an option for programs located in town, your vehicle/rental must be equipped with snow tires and four-wheel drive to get to the higher terrain tour operators. Be sure to have transportation set up beforehand and plan extra travel time on snowy days. It’s important to arrive on time, as missed tours are unlikely to be rescheduled.
5. Bundle up. Being pulled by a team of sled dogs is exhilarating! You’ll be traveling at five to 10 miles per hour through Vermont trails, so it’s important to stay warm and comfortable. Clothing layers are your best friend—you can always remove a layer if you get too toasty. Don’t forget a warm hat, neck gaiter, gloves or mittens, warm dry socks, and insulated boots. If your hands and feet are prone to getting cold, consider buying hand and toe warmers to add additional heat to your gloves and boots. If fresh snow has recently fallen on the trails, you may prefer to wear ski goggles to protect your eyes from the dog team’s kicked-up snow.
Your dog sled ride is not just another job for your musher—this is a way of life! Their passion for dog sledding is evident, and they’re eager to share it with you. Ask questions and take it all in.
About the Author: Emma Brownlee joined the team of her family-owned business, Umiak Outdoor Outfitters after she graduated. Emma’s love of the outdoors, passion for marketing, and family-oriented views invigorate others to get outdoors and have fun.