Ididaride Sled Dog Tours

Dog mushing is one of the more famous and popular Alaskan sports.  Once a critical mode of transportation, with the advent of snow machines and ski planes the role of dog teams has changed to an international sport.  Competitors from as far away as Scandinavia and the southern tip of South America come to compete in world championship sled dog races, the most famous of which is the 1,100 mile race between Anchorage and Nome.  The Seavey family is a third generation Iditarod competition team.  During the summer they support and train the dogs using tourists as muscle building weight on summer sleds. 

Ididaride tours is located on the outskirts of Seward.  From Seward, head north toward Anchorage on the Seward Highway for about 3 and a half miles.  Take a left on the Exit Glacier Road.  Almost immediately take a right on Old Exit Glacier Road.  Drive 1.1 miles and look for the sign and turnoff on the right side of the road. 

The tour begins with a history of dog sledding in Alaska.  Then the group is split up into smaller groups of approximately seven people each.  The groups are taken over to the area where the dogs are kenneled.  Groups rotate between taking a ten to fifteen minute run on a summer buggy sled pulled by 14 16 dogs, visiting the whelping kennels for an opportunity to hold, pet and pose with the new puppies, and learning about the Iditarod race itself at a presentation stage where mushers who actually run the Iditarod describe the experience and answer questions about the race.  The whole tour takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.  There are five tours each day, seven days a week.  The tours begin at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5:45pm.  The season runs from May 13 through the end of September.  After that the dogs must begin the even more rigorous training over greater distances and longer times, but pulling less weight.

The tours including the ride on the summer sled is $39 per adult, $19 for children (ages 2-11), and free for kids under 2.  For just a kennel tour without the ride on the sled, the cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children.  Ididaride also offers a longer tour from 11am to 5pm includes a tour of Seward, a trip up to Exit Glacier and lunch at the Resurrection Roadhouse in addition to the kennel tour and ride.  This tour costs $116 for adults and $71.50 for children.  Also, for those in Anchorage, Ididaride will arrange train transportation to and from Seward for an additional cost.  Prices are subject to an additional sales tax.  Reservations are recommended for these trips, especially during the peak season between June 7 and August 31. 

The tour mostly stays outdoors.  There is a gift shop where admission can be purchased if you have not made advance reservations.  There is a portapotty, but no indoor facilities.  The tour ends back at the gift shop where we each received a dog snow boot souvenir. 

This is a totally safe tour and fun for any age.  We were not required to sign any liability waiver or release and the guide made sure we were not in danger from any of the animals.  In fact, the dogs we met were extremely well trained and seemed to love the attention of people.  When the ride was over we were encouraged to go pet each dog and given them encouragement and reward for running a good pull. We were especially impressed with the tour guides knowledge of the Iditarod race, as several had run it, some of them multiple times.  We learned quite a bit about the breeding of champion race dogs and it cleared up a lot of misconceptions we had.  We were surprised that the large Malamute and Siberian Huskies are not used in the race, but rather breeds that are sleeker and built to run long distances and have extremely dense (but not necessarily long) fur. 

The dogs were obviously well taken care of and they loved to run and pull.  Each time the handlers hooked up a sled the dogs would bark and do everything to get attention in hopes of being selected for the team.  The handlers had printed a rotation for the day to show which dogs would pull which sleds.  Every day a dog will be exercised 3 to 5 times pulling tourists on the sleds.  The kennels were exceptionally well cleaned.  Even though there is still that typical dog smell, there was no feces lying around and several of the crew were responsible for continually cleaning up after the dogs.  The dogs are impressive and can really rip it up through the forest on the trails.

Click here for contact information on Ididaride Sled Dog Tours.

Last visited May 2002.

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