Thursday, April 17, 2003

Is Algonquin Park the Dog sled capital of Canada –?

While in Canada’s Yukon Territory recently, it was interesting to talk to the dog sled mushers about their business and where/ how their customers come from. Whitehorse is not close to any other major urban centre. People heading for a Yukon ( or Alaska ) sled dog trip fly on at least two flights and on average over 5000 km to get to the start of the trip. There is even a direct winter flight to Whitehorse all the way from Frankfurt Germany! With expensive flight costs, most of the dog sled businesses cater to high end clientele and take very few customers each winter. Racing is really the big draw with many of the mushers in the Yukon offering customers a chance to help train dogs that are getting in shape for the Yukon Quest- the longest and most grueling dog sled race in the world. 3 of the mushers I spoke to take less than 25 customers each winter.

My conversations with these dog sled operators made me start thinking that while Yukon maybe the home of Dogsled racing in Canada, Algonquin Park maybe Canada’s number one choice for people to experience “authentic” dog sledding.

Algonquin Park is within a 10 hour drive of over 25 million people and home to at least 8 dog sled operators around the Park that I am aware of. Collectively the operators house 600 dogs and on average 175 people are probably dog sledding every day in/ around Algonquin. I believe this would make Algonquin the dog sled capital of Canada!

Here at Voyageur Quest, we work with four Algonquin Park dog sled mushers and offer several different types of dog sled trips including lodge based multi adventures and dog expeditions with heated wall tent camping.

I stress “authentic dog sledding to differentiate from some hotels and/or resorts that are offering dog sled “rides” of 20 minutes. For those of you considering a dog sled experience, I highly recommend you choose an authentic dog sled experience vs. a ride.
During an authentic experience, you will receive a thorough orientation including instruction in how to drive a team, harness, hook up, and dog commands. Then you will head to the yard and hook up/ harness your team. After this two hour hands on process will you be ready to mush. The actual mush typically runs for about 3 – 4 hours and will cover around 20km.

Labels: ,