Learning to Mush; Dogsledding Around Bozeman

I’ve yet to meet anyone who has been dogsledding who didn’t fall in love with the experience. The intimacy of exploring the forest on a sled, gives you a unique perspective - and the dogs love their job. Whisking over the snow with only the sound of them working is exhilarating. Some mushers even allow guests to help hook the team up to the sled. Once ready, guests have the option of driving the sled (called mushing) or riding along.


Sled Dog Commands

If you opt to mush, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with basic commands.

  • Hike!: Get moving. To start a team or increase speed of a moving team.  
  • Gee!: Turn to the right.
  • Haw!: Turn to the left.
  • Easy!: Slow down.
  • Straight Ahead!: move forward, for instance at an intersection of trails.
  • Whoa!: Stop.
  • On By!: Pass another team or other distraction.
  • Line Out! Command to the Lead Dog to tighten the Gangline and pull the team out straight from the sled. Often used while stopped to avoid tangles.

Dog sled teams on a forest trail


Guided Dog Sled Trips

There are several places who offer dogsledding. Morrison Racing Kennel in Paradise Valley offers rides, weather permitting, December through March. Tours explore the Mill Creek Trail System and can be booked directly or through Chico Hot Springs and Sage Lodge, which is less than an hour from Bozeman.

In Big Sky, Spirit of the North Dogsled Adventures operates tours from Moonlight Basin, exploring the areas beyond Lone Mountain. And in West Yellowstone, they offer trips December 18-31, led by Jessie Royer, the 2019 and 2020 third place finisher of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska!


Two men driving a sled dog team


How to Prepare

Be sure to dress in warm layers, weather can change quickly in Montana, and you’ll want to have a waterproof outer layer. Dress warmer than you would if you were doing something active such as skiing. Blankets are generally provided for the tour. Be sure to bring sun protection, the sun’s reflection on the snow can be intense. Some tour providers offer extra boots if you don’t want to pack them. Hand and foot warmers are helpful and be sure to bring your camera!

Often, trips will end with a warm beverage around a bonfire and the chance to interact with the team.

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