Skip to Content

Juneau Dog Sledding: Unleash Your Inner Musher In Alaska

Dog sledding should top the bucket list for anyone seeking an exhilarating adventure in Juneau with the necessary budget. The Glacier Dog Sledding & Helicopter Tour ranks among Juneau’s most popular sledding excursions.

This excursion takes want-to-be mushers to a snow-covered glacier surrounded by towering white peaks, to enjoy an exciting ride. It’s a bucket list adventure enjoyed by those from four to seventy, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have done it more than once.

Since Juneau has no snow in summer, helicopter rides are required to reach Juneau Icefield. The tour features an exhilarating ride on a dog sled pulled by a team of huskies speeding through the wilderness.

Two dogs from our dog sledding team

However, travelers with a large family could be paying thousands for the experience.

Another great option is the Juneau Sled Dog Discovery tour. This two 1/2-hour excursion includes a one-mile ride on a wheeled sled through the rainforest.

Tours include meeting the huskies and their mushers, learning about their training and care, and even playing with the adorable puppies. 

This budget-friendly tour is a fantastic choice for families since it doesn’t require an expensive helicopter.

While the experience isn’t on snow and ice, it’s still a thrilling ride while learning about the history and culture of sledding with dogs in Alaska.

Glacier Dog Sledding Tours In Juneau

Glacier dog sled tours are the number one excursion if you’re arriving by ship to the Juneau port. Offered by cruise lines, these tours sell out fast. The excursion includes the helicopter ride, dog mushing, and time at the dog sled camp.

Dog sled camp on Herbert Glacier
Dog sled camp on Herbert Glacier

Several tour companies offer such adventures, whether booking with a cruise line, directly, or through a third party.

TEMSCO

TEMSCO offers helicopter rides for both sightseeing and dog sledding. They have operations in Juneau, Skagway, and Denali. In Juneau, they take guests to the top of Mendenhall Glacier for their dog sled touring experience.

The tour lasts three hours, including travel time to the airport and flight time to the glacier. Guests spend about an hour on the glacier, half of which is on the sled.

Expect to pay USD 659 per person, including children. Be prepared for the weather by wearing appropriate clothing, although TEMSCO provides glacier boots to keep out the snow and ice.

Coastal Helicopters

Coastal Helicopters is another excellent option for a sledding adventure in Juneau. I chose Coastal because their pilots fly year-round. This tour takes guests to Herbert Glacier, part of the Juneau Icefield.

Coastal Helicopter on Herbert Glacier
Coastal Helicopter on Herbert Glacier

Similarly priced to TEMSCO, I spent just over an hour at Herbert Dog Camp, greeting the dogs, asking questions of the handlers, and naturally, mushing my dog team around the glacier.

Like the other companies, we had the option to operate the sleigh. I took turns with my daughter who was thirteen at the time.

They offer a dog sledding tour as well as dog sledding with an additional glacial landing.

Northstar Helicopters

Northstar Helicopters also offers an unforgettable dog sledding experience in Juneau. They transport guests on a scenic helicopter ride to Norris Glacier, where experienced mushers and dog teams welcome eager guests. 

Northstar offers helicopter glacier trekking, heli-skiing, and glacier dog mushing. The latter lasts 3 hours and 25 minutes and costs USD 689 per person. Like the other vendors, they supply glacier boots.

While all helicopter companies have a cancellation policy, Northstar has the most generous one.

One of my sled dogs
One of my sled dogs

Juneau Dog Sledding Costs

If planning to go canine sledding in Juneau, pricing varies depending on the booking source. Cruise lines often secure most time slots through the three listed companies.

So, expect to pay up to USD 1000 per person when reserving through a cruise line. Also, there are no discounted rates for children over two years of age. It’s important to note that tours have surcharge fees if guests exceed the 250 lb. weight limit.

Cancellation Policies

Overall, dog sledding on a glacier is an event that often gets canceled. Low clouds and bad weather can prevent helicopters from flying. While it may result in disappointment, safety is most important for pilots and passengers.

Guests on a canceled tour will receive a full refund. If the weather improves, tour companies will try to reschedule for later in the day.

Have a backup plan for spending the day in Juneau. Alternatively, whale watching, riding the Mount Roberts Tram, or going to the Gold Creek Salmon Bake are fun activities too.

Should you choose to cancel, know the company’s policy to see if they offer a full or partial refund.

Two husky dogs from my team
Two husky dogs from my team

Preparing For A Dog Sledding Adventure

When planning an adventure with a dog sled team, it’s crucial to know a few things to ensure full preparation for the experience. Here are some tips to help get ready for the husky tour.

Helicopter Seating And Ride

When taking a helicopter tour, passengers can’t choose their seats. At the airport, staff weigh individuals and assign spots to balance the helicopter’s weight.

While many prefer front or window seats, passengers must sit in the assigned locations. This might result in sitting next to strangers rather than with family.

Depending on the helicopter, there is usually only room for 4 to 6 people. We couldn’t take bags, purses, backpacks, or drones. I received a locker at the airport to secure my personal items before my flight. I took only a smartphone to capture photos.

Luckily, we received the front-row seats next to the pilot. A family with two small children took the seats behind. 

Flightseeing is a bonus of glacier dog sledding. We enjoyed spectacular views of the Icefield and Auke Bay. Those prone to motion sickness should consider medication to handle potential turbulence.

What To Wear

Since Alaska’s weather is unpredictable even in summer, select clothing pieces that will keep you warm and dry. It can still get chilly on a glacier, even if it’s not snowing or raining. No blankets or coverings are supplied by the operator to keep guests warm and dry.

Guests ride in the sled seated as if sitting on a chair. This differs from the basket sleds where guests recline close to the ice.

Dog sled
Seated dog sled

I took my excursion in July and experienced freezing rain on Herbert Glacier. It was much colder than I anticipated.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Select a waterproof or water-resistant jacket.
  • Wear protective mittens or gloves.
  • Bring sunglasses to cut down the glare off the ice.
  • Wear a warm hat to keep your ears and head warm.

Overall, dressing in comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing is essential for fully enjoying the adventure. While there may be warm sunshine, it’s best to plan for the worst.

Juneau Sled Dog Discovery

If sledding on a glacier isn’t within budget, take a dog mushing tour on dirt instead. This adventure costs 70% less than the experience on a glacier and doesn’t require an expensive helicopter ride.

Dog mushing on dirt
Mushing on a dirt road

Unlike the more costly tours, the chances of cancellation are near zero. Choose this option to enjoy the thrill of dog sledding in summer while saving money.

On a Juneau Sled Dog Discovery tour, a team of 14 to 16 huskies will pull a custom-wheeled cart on a dirt road for one mile. Professional handlers who participate in the winter sport recount stories of the Iditarod and what it takes to run the grueling race.

In contrast to the experience of snow and ice, guests can’t operate the cart. 

Is Dog Sledding Ethical?

One of the most common concerns about dog sledding is whether it is ethical. In winter, locals use sled dogs for transportation in remote areas, which is common practice in other global areas, such as the Arctic and Antarctica.

Sam, one of our sled dogs
Sam, one of our sled dogs

Alaska’s most famous annual event is the Iditarod. The Iditarod sled dog race commemorates the delivery of diphtheria serum to Nome a century ago, which was done by sled dogs.

A summer dog sled tour allows owners to keep their sled dogs exercised in warmer months. Dogs are chosen for their speed and willingness to run.

Ethical dog sledding companies prioritize the health and safety of their dogs, providing them with proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care. They also limit the number of daily runs and rotate dogs between runs.

It is also important to note that sled dogs are bred for this purpose and enjoy the activity. They are highly trained and take pride in their work. 

When I landed on the glacier and heard their barking in anticipation of the run, I knew running was in their blood.

My dog sled team
My dog sled team

Other Places To Go Dog Sledding In Alaska

There are plenty of options to choose from when seeking more places to go dog mushing in Alaska. Here are a few other locations to consider:

Skagway: Operated by TEMSCO, they fly to Denver Glacier. Alternatively, Skagway Sled Dog Discovery offers a cart experience on a dirt path.

Anchorage: Several companies offer summer as well as winter excursions around Anchorage. Most offer transportation to and from the city. Winter tours are far more affordable as snow blankets the city.

Girdwood: Alpine Alaska Air offers a glacial experience on Girdwood Glacier. Girdwood also offers a summer mushing adventure with a wheeled cart.

Seward: Seavey’s Ididaride offers both a dirt and ice experience.

Mushing School: Learn to mush and handle a dog team at the Alaska Mushing School near Anchorage.

While it’s been several years since I enjoyed the thrill of riding a dog sled, it feels like yesterday. The incessant barking before and silence during the run will remain in my memories forever.

Dog sledding teams on the glaciers of Juneau, Alaska