More than likely you’ve heard about dog-sledding. At some point you probably watched a mini National Geographic segment on it in elementary school; but did you know that you and your entire family can actually go on your own dog-sledding adventure right in Salida, Colorado?
It’s true! And it’s easier to get set up than you’d ever think. If you’re in the vicinity of San Isabel National Forest, don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Getting pulled through the forest by a team of four-legged athletes after a fresh dusting of snow is an experience your family won’t forget. Take a tour through the forest as you’ve never done before; on your very own dog sledding adventure!
What is Dog Sledding All About?
The History Rundown– Then to Now
Centuries ago, sled dogs became the primary means of transportation and communication between various subarctic communities worldwide. The earliest known record of dog sledding actually dates all the way back to 1,000 A.D. Harsh conditions didn’t mean that work magically stopped or supplied didn’t need transporting– life went on, and it was thanks to the sled dogs.
While dog sledding never started out focusing around racing, that’s the way things trended. Nowadays– especially within the continental United States– mushing is essentially entirely recreational. The famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race, which is where most of us likely first heard of mushing, has only been around since 1973. Although the sport decreased in popularity, it remains alive and well in more rural areas of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.
Why Sled Dogs?
Dog sledding began in regions without the ability to utilize larger animals like horses. Dogs then became the best possible option for hauling people and goods at the time. Sled dog breeds have long been chosen specially for their physical capabilities and characteristics as well as their temperaments.
Breeds such as Huskies, Malamutes, and Eskimo Dogs have thick fur coats that provide insulation from the frigid temperatures of subarctic climates. Their paws are not just tough but are actually webbed, allowing them to act like snowshoes and rendering them impermeable to the winter ground. These breeds also tend to weigh in somewhere between 45 and 70 pounds which means they have enough weight to pull heavy loads but aren’t so large that they exhaust themselves just by moving.
Does it Hurt the Dogs?
The physical act of pulling does not hurt the dogs, in fact, most sled dogs are specifically bred for the work, so you could say it’s in their blood. Factors like improper care and reckless mushers have given the sport a negative reputation because those things should never happen in the first place. Sled dogs that receive proper care, are well-socialized, and are not overworked are not impaired or harmed by sledding at all.
As stated above, the breeds of dogs used in the sport have been specifically engineered through evolution to stand up to cold climates and handle the physical work of hauling sleds. The dogs that are raised and trained to pull sleds are oftentimes eager and excited to work– they may even insist on more runs after finishing distances that sound absolutely crazy to us.
Can the Whole Family Dog Sled?
Absolutely! Generally speaking, dog sledding is an experience that your entire family can enjoy. While rules vary by kennel, many don’t impose any age restrictions on riders. Some may have limits, but they tend to be quite low (two years old or so). Using your parental judgment is best in the case of little ones, of course, but there’s nothing that prevents even the smallest member of the family from tagging along on your adventure. Most companies will advise you to take special care and really bundle up the smallest riders. However, children must always be accompanied by a guardian.
Top Dog Sled Companies in the Area
Far and away, the most popular and accessible option for dog sledding in the Salida area is Monarch Dog Sled Rides. Reservations can be booked on their website, but those on the hunt for a basic overview shouldn’t overlook the following:
- Two different sled sizes are available; combined, they can carry about 1,100 pounds on a tour split between them.
- Each tour is personalized and each sled has a professional guide for guests
- Reservations are required, but occasionally a same day phone call can get you in.
- No age limit
- Tours range from $225-350 per sled during the off-season and $275-425 per sled during Christmas Break and all of March.
Where to Stay While Dog Sledding in Salida
Those looking for the perfect place for the family to stay during your dog sledding trip consider Creekside Chalets. Conveniently located just minutes from Monarch Mountain. The cabins and chalets at Creekside are an excellent choice for a family that wants to keep their recreational options open. Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoe enthusiasts alike are provided with countless opportunities to get outside and do what they love without your family having to stay somewhere inaccessible. Did we mention that the Chalets are pet friendly?
If you’re interested in staying at Creekside or want to know more about the fabulous options for entertainment and recreation in the area, contact us today! We’d be more than happy to help jumpstart you on your path to the experience of a lifetime.