How to Experience Dog Sledding in Michigan
Winter is a great time for snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, but if you're looking for a different type of winter sports action, mush into the exciting sport of dog sledding in Michigan!
Dog Sledding Adventures Throughout Michigan
1. Treetops Resort – Gaylord
Let Team Evergreen and Liza Dietzen show you what they’re made of as they tote you along the Jones Masterpiece Golf Course. A thrilling adventure for the whole family, reserve a ride for you, the kids or both! The season for dog sledding at Treetops runs from late December to late February and is $50 per person.
Venture north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a winter adventure unlike any other at Nature's Kennel in McMillan. Ed and Tasha Stielstra and Laura Neese, who run the kennel, are all champion mushers and take pride in dogs and the thrilling experiences they provide to each and every guest. Choose from a variety of winter adventures from 10-mile and 20-mile day trips to overnight excursions where you will learn to drive and care for your own dog team and spend a night in a cabin or yurt! More packages for families and groups are available on their website.
Marquette is home to one of the premier sled dog races in the country, the UP 200. But it's also a favorite pastime of many outdoor enthusiasts in the area as well. While Marquette Recreational Tours does not own any of their own dog sled teams, they do partner with local mushers to provide unique and custom sledding experience for those visiting the Marquette area.
Just outside Munising, in the small town of Shingleton, you'll find Husky Haven Kennels, a local operation that takes pride in spending time with each guest or group to make sure each visit is special. Each tour at Husky Haven Kennels starts out with a kennel tour and a talk about the history of dogsledding. The guests are given instructions on how to handle their team and sled on a run. Teams then head out on an 8 to 10-mile run with the instructor. After the run, guests are able to give water to their dog teams and give them a rest in their kennels. The tour ends with hot cocoa, cookie and photos in the heated hanger.
Sled Dog Races in Michigan
Experience the thrill of sled dog race firsthand as mushers and their teams of dogs race along snow-covered trails across Michigan! Cheer on your favorite mushers (and dogs!) and the annual races below:
1. The UP 200 – Marquette
The UP 200 sled dog race is one of the premier sled dog races in the country. Mushers from all over travel to the Marquette area, Michigan each winter to compete in this race. They love it not only for the beautiful and challenging terrain, but also for the warm welcome they receive from the huge crowd that assembles in Marquette to cheer them on.
The start of the race is truly something to see. The city of Marquette shuts down Washington Street, which runs through the heart of Marquette’s downtown district, and covers the street with snow. This is where thousands of people will gather onto the sidewalks on the first evening of the race to watch the dog sled teams embark on the 240-mile course.
The mushers travel from Marquette toward Munising, through sections of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and then on to Grand Marais. Grand Marais is the layover point, where the teams will arrive sometime the next morning. After spending a few hours in Grand Marais to rest and refuel, the teams will head back to Marquette sometime late Saturday afternoon and evening.
2. The Midnight Run – Marquette
And then there’s the Midnight Run, an exciting ninety-mile race that takes place between the start and finish of the U.P. 200. Midnight run mushers, with a team of eight dogs, leave Marquette from Washington Street shortly after the U.P. 200 mushers. However, their course is different. In the past Midnight Run teams have finished in Grand Marais. Now, the teams will race to Chatham, then turn around and finish in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park.
3. The Jack Pine 30 – Gwinn
The Jackpine 30 is the shortest race in the UP 200 tournament, at 26 miles. Mushers race out of Gwinn with teams of six dogs along a trail that follows M-553, crossing Plains and Southgate Roads to the highway overpass and then tucks into the woods proceeding to Sands Station. From Sands Station the trail turns west and then breaks to the north for about 4 miles, passing near Uncle Tom’s and Powell Lakes and alongside an impressive beaver dam. Mushers will then run a 4-mile loop and return via the same trail to the finish.
Community members are invited to Larry’s Family Foods to meet the dogs and mushers and cheer as the teams blaze away from the starting gate. While the mushers are out on the trail, people can enjoy the shops and restaurants in Gwinn before heading for the finish line at First Baptist Church.
The Tahquamenon County Sled Dog Race (TCSDR) was founded in 1999 and is operated by volunteers to promote, conduct and support mid-distance sled dog racing in the Midwestern United States and Canada. This particular race attracts mushers from all over the United States, as well as Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. The TCSDR includes 5 different classes of races, each with their own distances: 10-dog pro teams race approximately 51 miles, 8-dog pro teams race 41 miles, 6-dog sportsman teams race 30 miles, 4-dog sportsman teams race 16 miles, and 2 to 3-dog youth teams race 4-miles. Spectators are encouraged to come out and cheer the racers on, meet the teams, and pet the dogs in this all-day event!
5. CopperDog 150 – Calumet
Starting in Calumet, mushers must make their way to Copper Harbor and back in the 3-day, 132-mile race to the finish! Experience the stunning and picturesque trails from the shores of Lake Superior to the rolling and twisting backcountry, and cresting the peak of Brockway Mountain. Enjoy the friendly people, welcoming communities, challenging trails, formidable competition, and the peace and tranquility that blossoms from the deep backcountry of the Keweenaw Peninsula. This event is truly amazing and a must-see for any outdoor or sled dog enthusiast.
Established in 1965, Kalkaska Winterfest is an annual celebration of wintertime activities and the true “up north” spirit. Each year, Kalkaska Winterfest hosts a slew of family-friendly attractions during the weekend-long event. Sled dogs overtake the town to partake in the largest sprint sled dog race in the Lower 48. The sled dog portion of the weekend, steeped in rich history and tradition, calls dog mushers from all over to this racing hotspot. Classes and distances range from 2-dog fun run at 2.1-miles to 10-dog teams racing 12 miles. Spectators will have plenty of activities to take part in between races including craft shows, performances and more!