One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
Dog sledding in the Yukon -- it’s not your normal, everyday winter vacation. But thanks to an Air North Top 20 Whitehorse promotion, my husband and I were able to enjoy a four-day outdoor adventure in Canada’s spectacular Great White North and get a little "mushing" in on the side.
Leaving Vancouver in the comfort of a 747, it wasn't long before we began our descent into Whitehorse, Yukon (pop. 27,000).
We quickly settled in the Best Western Gold Rush Inn on Main Street and bundled up for a walk in the cold afternoon air to experience the Klondike-themed town shops. After a few hot cups of coffee and goodies at the famous "Baked" cafe and more sightseeing, we headed to a local pub to take in live music with well-known blues guitarist-singer, Doc MacLean. It was a perfect evening complemented by having a few cold Yukon-brewed beers with the regulars.
Our trip coincided with the city’s annual Sourdough Rendezvous Festival (Feb. 23-26) and we spent the following day walking and exploring the outdoor kiosks along with what seemed like the entire town. We took advantage of fresh-baked bannock bread, enjoyed delicious maple syrup toffee, learned a few survival tricks from our very own Canadian Rangers and had a hoot placing our votes on our favorite ice sculptures in -25C degree weather. Contestant teams came from as far as Sweden.
After watching a few Rendezvous sled dog races, featuring competitors from 8 years old to old-timers with their 4- to 6-dog teams, we were ready to give dog sledding or as the locals call it, dog mushing, a try.
It was the highlight of our trip.
After a hearty warm breakfast the next morning, we headed out to meet Gary, our guide at Sky High Ranch approximately 25 minutes out of town, for our half-day excursion.
All puppies are left to wander the property at leisure and all are referred to as simply “Puppy." We were told it’s much easier this way, instead of having to call out eight different names at lunch time. However, once the puppies start showing signs of dominance and aggressiveness, they are leashed and given their individual names. (Usually at about eight months old.) It turns out that the puppies are named after the caretakers’ favorite TV characters. One previous litter had dogs named Sylvester, Itchy and Scratchy.
My husband and I both had our very own team of dogs that we harnessed and got to know.
These dogs are incredibly strong and have an ingrained need and love to simply run. I had a team of four females with the leader named Maddie, a "Yukon Quest" dog. To receive this special recognition, dogs must successfully complete the famous 1,000-mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska. I was in awe observing Maddie’s focus on the task at hand; never stopping to grab snow or distracted by the other dogs.
Throughout this unique excursion, Gary ensured that the dogs had plenty of short rest periods. After a few minutes of inactivity, the dogs would start howling which was the cue to get moving again. These breaks also allowed us to appreciate the quietness of this remote area and serene landscape.
Although it was very cold, and even wearing of every piece of winter clothes we owned, my husband and I were both smiling at our good fortune.