During the race itself, which can take more than two weeks to complete, a racer with a puppy team might do four hours of running followed by four hours of resting. With adult dogs, that ratio might go to 3:2. “But when the dogs are resting, you’re usually not, you’re massaging them and preparing food and stuff.” Braverman says. “Day and night means nothing.”
While the Iditarod is indeed the ultramarathon of dog sledding, there are plenty of mushing expeditions of the fun and chill variety that visitors can take advantage of on their trip to Alaska. If you love dogs -- and to be clear, I am talking here not about those weird yappy ones that weigh nine pounds and quiver when touched by a modest breeze, but about full-sized, snow-loving Good Dogs -- there’s nothing that compares to a mushing tour. Do you want to cuddle smol huskies atop a glacier, onto which you will be delivered by helicopter? Would you like to meet Iditarod racers and feel for yourself what it’s like to climb aboard a sled and attempt to slow a team of dogs so pure of heart their only desire is simply to run? All of us here at Thrillist would hope so, but either way you clicked on this so that’s a start. We can work with that.
What are the best places for tourists to go mushing in Alaska?
If you’re in a position to splurge, book a heli-mush tour -- that means you start off with a helicopter ride that’ll take you a remote location, and then you’ll get mushing.
If you’re in Juneau:
Braverman’s top recommendation is Alaska Heli-Mush. This one stands apart from most others because you have the option to actually drive the sled yourself instead of being a passenger the whole time. The tour is for folks of nearly all ages and abilities -- you’ll need to be able to maneuver in and out of the helicopter, but the company says it’s had happy customers who were blind, amputees, or in their 90s. It takes three hours from start to finish -- you’ll spend about an hour at the dog sled camp, half an hour sightseeing from the helicopter in each direction, and about an hour dog sledding.
On the flight up to the Taku Glacier, which is, by the way, one of the few in the world that’s still advancing -- sometimes up to 100 feet in a single year -- keep an eye out for mountain goats, bears, moose, and yetis. Soon you'll touch down into “Dog World,” where 200 sled dogs await. Tours are $599 per person, but it’s worth paying $750 for the Extended Adventure -- in that option, smaller groups learn how to harness and drive the dogs, then mush them several miles with the guide. Then you’ll visit the crew’s camp, where you’ll learn all about caring for the dogs -- and you get to feed them snacks.