Dog sledding is a quintessential Alberta winter experience that I’ve always wanted to try. When I arrive at the staging area outside of Canmore, an hour west of Calgary, more than 30 dogs are making a racket, waiting eagerly to pull the sleds. These guys are born to run. They jump in place, straining at their leads and their joyful howls come straight from the belly. I can’t help but feel like joining in. As the excitement builds I become eager to start.
Leading the Pack
My guide gets me suited up with an overview on how to steer and stop the sled while driving, and what to expect as we make our way through the alpine forest. Depending on the outfitter and guide, Alberta dog sled tours can go for an hour, half a day, a full day or overnight.
Once we’re off I rear back with the sled, my boots balanced on the runners. The dogs surge forward and the snow races beneath me. As the wind whips and dog paws kick up snow, I feel like an authentic member of Canadian Rockies dog sledding culture, if only for a few hours.
I could have chosen to be swaddled beneath heaps of blankets and hunkered down in the sled with my tour guide steering through snow-laden trees in breathtaking Kananaskis Country. But I wanted the bragging rights of leading the team.
Where to Dog Sled in Alberta
You can book a dog sledding adventure as early as November and as late as April, depending on the snow cover. Choose from tours out of Kananaskis Country and Banff and Jasper national parks. Here are some of the places you can go.
- Mad Dogs & Englishmen Sled Dog Expeditions: Excursions range from 1.5 hour and half-day to full-day or multi-day trips on request at this Canmore-based family operation. They offer skijoring packages, too, where you get on cross-country skis and the dogs pull.
- Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours: Try two-, four- and eight-hour trips with this Canmore dog sledding company. Add-on options include ice fishing and snowshoeing.
- Howling Dog Tours: After a day of skiing, try a two-hour expedition followed by dinner in Canmore. Transportation from Canmore or Banff provided.
- Kingmik Dog Sled Tours: Located just down the hill from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Kingmik’s most popular trip is the 1.5-hour Great Divide Tour which travels through the Kicking Horse Pass.
- Klondike Ventures: This Rocky Mountain House operator caters to small groups. You can dog sled outside the Jasper National Park boundaries with outfitters including Jasper Adventure Centre.
- Dog Sledding