Summer – Approx late May to early September. Temperatures are usually between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, we offer the Sled Dog Safari Tour and the Husky Hiking Tour. There is no snow.
Fall – Approx early September to mid October. Temperatures are usually between 20 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, we offer the Sled Dog Safari Tour only. There is no snow on the ground, although you may experience flurries in the air.
Freeze Up – Approx mid October to mid November. Temperatures are usually between 0 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This special season is called Freeze Up because the ground and the waterways start to freeze up. During this time, we offer the Sled Dog Safari Touruntil there is enough snow on the groundto offer theScenic Day Mushing Tour. We need approximately 1.5 feet of snow in order to safely operate our dog sleds on this tour. This has to do with the way the sleds are slowed and stopped. We will switch from the Safari Tour (on wheels) to the Scenic Day Tour (on snow) as soon as there is enough snow on the ground. When we build the online booking calendars, we are simply using our best guess at when this transition date will be. Please book a tour on the date of your choosing, according to the online booking calendar. Then if we need to change the type of tour that is based on the weather conditions, we will let you know that in advance. You can also cancel your tour up to 24 hours in advance without penalty.
Winter & Spring – Approx late November (Winter) to late March (Spring). Temperatures are usually between -30 (degrees BELOW zero) and +40 (degrees above zero) Fahrenheit. During this time we offer the Scenic Day Mushing Tour until the snow becomes too unstable for us to do so. The snow on our trail needs to be firm – not slushy or icy – in order for us to safely operate this tour. As the temperatures become warmer in late March, this causes our trail to get slushy during the day, and then extremely icy at night and early in the morning. This can make running very uncomfortable and even unsafe for our dogs. Eventually we have to close down.
Break Up – Approx mid April to mid May. Temperatures are usually between 20 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. We are closed during this time as we wait for all of the snow and ice to melt and “break up.” After this happens, things will be very muddy. We need to wait for that mud to dry too, before we can take out our wheeled summer buggy for the Summer Sled Dog Safari Tours.
We do not offer tours in the dark. We know that daylight is best for taking photos and enjoying the scenery! Check out https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/usa/fairbanks for more information on day length in Fairbanks during your visit. Remember to consider twilight, and not just sunset! Hint: It stays daylight for about an hour after sunset, and gets light outside about an hour before the sun rises!
When is the best time of day to take the tour? That really depends on what else you want to do with your day. If you tour with us in the middle of the day, that is pretty much all you do on that particular day. Whereas if you tour with us in the morning or afternoon/evening you may be able to fit in some other activities before/after your tour with us. The dogs do tend to have more pep and energy first thing in the morning, whereas they are more calm for the last tours of the day.
Go slow.. Even locals know driving on ice and snow is tricky, and they are usually pretty respectful to each other. If someone is driving too close behind you, try pulling over or slowing down even more to let them pass. You can also turn on your flashers/hazard lights to alert other drivers that you’re going particularly slow.
Stay away from the edges of the road. Road shoulders in winter often look solid, but are actually very soft. If you get a tire into the deep snow in the shoulder you can get pulled right into the ditch. Stay closer to the center line of the road than to the edge of the road. When meeting oncoming traffic, be sure to stay in your lane, but feel free to slow down so you can pass safely.
Brake early and lightly. Give yourself plenty of time to stop at lights and stop signs. When you touch the brakes, touch them lightly. If you start to lose control, let off the brake pedal and let the vehicle come to a slowed, more “relaxed” position.
Accelerate slowly. When taking off from a stopped position, or accelerating uphill, push the gas pedal gently. If you feel yourself starting to spin out of control or lose traction, let off the gas, but do not slam on the brakes. Let the vehicle return to a slowed, more “relaxed” state, and try gently accelerating again. Many vehicles now have traction control, and interior buttons to turn this feature off. Some people do find it helpful to turn this off. Also, if your vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive: use it!
To cancel your tour and receive a full refund, we require you give at least 24 hours advanced notice before the start time/date of your tour. If you do not give at least 24 hours advanced notice of your cancellation you will not receive a refund. No partial refunds are given.
On rare occasion, we must cancel or reschedule tours on account of poor weather or dangerous road conditions. In winter, high winds or temperatures below -20 F may cause a cancellation. In summer or fall, cancellations may be prompted by wildfires, forest fire smoke, or heavy rain. If we need to cancel your tour it is for reasons of safety and comfort for you and our dogs, and we will try our hardest to find a time in which to reschedule you. If we are unable to find an alternate tour time for your group, you will receive a full refund for your tour. Please be aware that weather conditions can be drastically different between our kennel and the Fairbanks/North Pole area. Don’t assume that tours will be canceled based solely on weather conditions in these areas. We will always contact you in the event of a cancellation or need to reschedule.
Update: This video was taken during a tour several years ago… We now have an Instagram account (despite the dialogue in the video)
A tag sled is a second dog sled, attached behind the main driving sled via a length of rope. One team of dogs can accommodate two adult visitors and one guide. Your guide will drive the main sled, with one visitor seated in this sled. The second visitor will drive the tag sled. Driving the tag sled is a great way to experience the thrill of dog mushing without the added pressure of actually controlling the team! It is normal to fall off the tag sled at least once on your tour, and it can be great fun! Plop down in the fluffy snow bank and then give us a holler. We’ll stop the sled and wait for you to jump back on. But please hurry! The dogs hate to stop and wait. Tag-sledding is only appropriate for people who are in good physical condition. If you fall off the tag sled you must be able to pick yourself back up and get back on the sled unassisted. Your guide and your friend/family member need to stay put on the front sled to try and keep the dogs from running away without you!
We offer two different “Preparation Checklists” with suggestions for how to dress in both warm and cold weather. You can see them on this page of our site: How to Dress. In all seasons it’s important for people to wear clothing that they are comfortable “playing” in. Our dogs are not typical pet dogs — they like to jump and lick and wrap their arms around you. Please wear clothing that can get dirty or even possibly torn by the dogs in their excitement to see you. We do have some clothing to lend as well – although we currently have nothing in children’s sizes.
For our winter tours (using sleds), we do have a weight restriction of 250 pounds per person. An in general, we do not recommend our tours for people who are pregnant, have serious back/hip/knee problems, or people with general mobility impairments. These are outdoor tours, conducted on uneven surfaces which can be challenging to walk on in both winter and summer.
Winter dog mushing can be great fun, but it can also be challenging – especially for beginners. There is always some amount of risk when you are a passenger in a dog sled as well – even when being driven by experts like us. Trail and weather conditions change constantly. Deep snow, icy hard-pack, ruts and holes can all cause a person to lose control of their sled, causing it to tip over or crash into a tree or brush. Minor wipe-outs are typically cause for a good laugh, but participants must have the physically ability to stand up in deep snow and get themselves back on the sled.
Summer tours are generally safer, but may still not be a good idea for people who are pregnant or have serious back/hip problems as our tour trail can be VERY bumpy. Please talk to your doctor before booking a tour with us.
Special considerations for children:
We do not have any age restrictions. Children five years old and younger must ride on the lap of an adult or older child while sitting in the dog sled. In most cases young children are still allowed to try driving the dog sled on the safest, easiest portion of the trail. Please keep in mind that our tours are designed to be educational, and the content we cover is sometimes too complex for children. We find that while all kids are thrilled with the dog mushing, a significant portion of our tour also involves standing around, petting dogs and answering adults’ questions about raising and training dogs, running 1,000 mile races, living off-grid in Alaska, etc. Not all children are mature / calm enough to act appropriately during these times of the tour. This can degrade the experience for the adults who are also present.
Ptarmigan, grouse and snowshoe hare are sometimes spotted darting across our trails, and occasionally other dog teams. While our area does have an abundance of large wildlife, we do not usually see many of these while actually mushing. We encourage questions and comments while moving down the trail with the dogs, and our conversation typically alerts animals of our presence. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as moose are actually one of the biggest concerns when mushing a team (they are territorial and love to walk down the hard packed dog trails).