The Yukon conjures up images of Canada’s last frontier, a place where the vast expanse of nature far surpasses the population. Adventure seekers from around the globe travel to the Yukon in search of the northern lights and to try their hand at dog sledding.
Just outside the capital, Whitehorse, you will find Sky High Wilderness Ranch, located on the land of the Kwanlin Dün First Nations. The ranch is surrounded by snowy mountain vistas and sits on the edge of the frozen waters of Fish Lake.
The team at Sky High Wilderness Ranch have been providing guests with a truly authentic dog sledding experience for over 30 years. The “off grid” concept immerses visitors in nature to allow them to embrace the experience, including every aspect of the dogs and sledding. With limited cell service, no electricity, and no Wi-Fi, the hustle and bustle of modern life is left behind.
The multiday dog sledding tour gives guests the opportunity to stay in the rustic lodge, where they can connect with other thrill-seekers looking for a mushing adventure. You may even spot the magical aurora borealis dancing in the night.
During their time at Sky High, mushers get to know the distinct personalities of the team of dogs they will be working with. Sled dogs are rarely purebred but rather a mix of breeds known for their stamina and ability to race in the harsh northern conditions. During the multiday tours, guests can even camp with their guide and dog team in the snowy wilds of the Yukon’s great outdoors.
On the first day, guests learn to harness and hook up their hard-working canine companions to the sled. The dogs seem to thrive off the ride, barking raucously in the frosty air in anticipation of a race through the snow. A few of the dogs at Sky High have even completed the harrowing Yukon Quest, said to be the toughest canine sledding race on Earth.
There is an art to dog mushing. The key is to keep a steady pace and try to maintain your balance as the terrain curves and winds. It’s integral to know when to break as you glide along the many forested twists and turns, navigating the unfamiliar terrain. Working with sled dogs is a fellowship with the best co-workers.
“When you give lots of time to the dogs, they give it back—it’s a very special feeling,” dog sled guide Elaine Saunier-Bellemare says. “When you are out in the bush and you see them working hard, it’s such a rewarding experience.”
Full-day and half-day dog sledding tours are also available at Sky High Wilderness Ranch, as are other year-round adventures like ice fishing and snowshoeing at Fish Lake with Up North Adventure tours.
Air North, owned by Yukoners, gets you up in the air with a warm cookie and offers direct flights from Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.