For many years, sitting in a sled while a team of dogs pulled you along was one of the only ways to travel a long distance across the frozen tundra. Now that modern technology has brought about faster and easier ways to travel across snow and ice, dog sledding has instead become a popular year-round leisure activity.
Many locations that offer dog sledding activities originally started as training camps for famous sled races, such as the Iditarod and Yukon Quest. These 1000-mile races challenge both the dogs and their handlers to their endurance limits. The dogs need training for these races, and pulling sleds loaded with tourists is a good way to keep the dogs in shape.
Dog sledding, or mushing, was the traditional transport of the ancestors of the Inuit. These ingenious people made sleds out of the materials they had on hand, including frozen fish as runners and a frame made out of animal hide, antlers and bone. Men originally pulled these fragile sleds, but as domesticated dogs arrived in the Arctic they were used to pull the sleds. Archeologists have found evidence of mushing dating back over 800 years.
Currently, snowmobiles make travel easy across the ice, so the traditional methods of transport are not as important. Dog sledding is now mainly a leisure pursuit available year-round. Although the sleds are made of modern materials and their design has changed, it is still possible to enjoy the same thrills the early Inuit did.
Ontario has many areas of great natural beauty, and dog sledding is a great way to explore this beautiful country. These trips are available in varied lengths, from a short, 30-minute journey to a backwoods trip lasting up to one week. Wheels can also attach to the sleds, so you can enjoy dog sledding even when no snow is on the ground.
One of the best places in Ontario for dog sledding is Algonquin Provincial Park, which is about 200 miles (350 km) north of Toronto. This beautiful area has miles of trails with an abundance of native wildlife, and several companies in this area offer dog sledding trips. Other areas offering the activity include Haliburton and Magnetawan, both closer to Toronto.
Another way to enjoy this dog sledding is a night trip. These trips offer the opportunity to enjoy fantastic night sky views in the remote countryside and also the possibility of seeing the lights of aurora borealis.
Huskies are the most popular breed of dog that mushers use to pull sleds. This hardy breed has the strength to pull a sled for hours, and its thick coat helps it to cope with the extreme cold of winter in the Arctic.
Dog sledding is a popular year-round leisure activity that people of all ages and physical condition can enjoy. All you need to do is sit down and let the dogs do the work.
Taylor Anderson is a member of a network of bloggers who write about travel and lifestyle on behalf of companies such as American Express, who offer a range of credit cards specifically designed to suit a variety of needs.