Dog sledding is a tradition from the earliest human times in Alaska and the quintessential way to experience winter in the Arctic. Join us for a week in the heart of the Brooks Range where you will experience the profound quiet of wilderness, the thrill of running a dog team, and the awe of watching the Northern Lights dance above the snowy peaks. Discover why Alaskans think of April as the perfect time of year to tour the Brooks Range.
Spring in the Arctic is dramatic. The sun rises higher each day as we head from total winter darkness to the endless light of summer. With the returning light and (relative warmth) of spring, the land and its inhabitants stir. Caribou migrate north, and golden eagles and other migrants begin to arrive. Hibernators shake off months of sleep and predators are on the move. March and April are a time of deep fluffy snow and dazzlingly bright days. The grip of winter relaxes, and it is the perfect time to travel the frozen landscape.
In addition to the aesthetic joys of spring in the Arctic, this trip is an opportunity to learn the skills and lore of winter camping. And, of course, how to mush a team of dogs. Our Alaskan huskies are big-hearted, hard working, friendly animals and their enthusiasm for the snowy landscape is contagious. We will have a camp full of enthusiastic sled-dogs, allowing you to learn to work with the dogs in a safe and controlled situation. As you gain rapport with the dogs and sled handling skills, we can venture further and further from our camp on our daily forays. When not enjoying the dogs, there is lots to do. We will provide snowshoes for making new dog-trails and exploring on foot. There may be opportunities to fish through the ice of a nearby lake and the ever-changing light provides endless opportunities for photography. Ridgelines are often blown free of snow and we may be able to hike towards the peaks.
When not exploring, photographing, or lounging, there is plenty of diversion in a winter camp. Wood needs to be cut, snow needs to be melted for cooking, dogs need tending, and the skills and lore of a wall tent camp can be learned and savored. Your guides are happy to do the work but people often really enjoy the rhythm and exercise of joining in to make a truly comfortable camp in such a remote environment.
Wildlife is always unpredictable, but our camp will be on the historic route of the caribou’s spring migration. Some years we see caribou migrating northward towards the calving ground, cows heavy with calves, and the herd pawing through the snow searching the white wilderness for food. And where there are caribou, predators like wolves and bears can sometimes be found. Wolves follow the herds and we have seen dramatic chases in the snow. Bears may start to emerge from dens, and caribou are sometimes their first meal of the year.
We will set up a solid and comfortable camp sheltered from the wind in an area with abundant firewood. A large communal wall tent with a roaring fire and plenty of good food and drink provides a cozy oasis. Sleeping arrangements will be in wood-heated “Arctic Oven” tents designed here in Fairbanks specifically for cold weather camping and each tent is outfitted with a wood-stove to keep it comfortably warm.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Rendezvous at the Arctic Wild headquarters for a pre-trip meeting and gear check in the morning. When everything is organized and loaded we fly north to the outpost of Coldfoot, where we meet our hosts and owners of Arctic Getaway B&B. After a short drive from the airport we settle into our cabins in this historic location and begin exploring. Save some energy for watching the Aurora tonight.
The adventure continues! Another short drive gets us to the trailhead where we meet the dogs and shuttle into camp via dog-sled. The trail is narrow and requires some steering but after a couple hours you arrive at camp which has already been set-up. When we arrive the the tents are warm and filled with the smell of good food.
Each day brings its own adventure and surprises. Your desires and the weather will dictate the schedule. Wildlife sightings quicken the pulse and the process of learning to work with the dogs is immensely rewarding. Tents are kept warm and there is ample and delicious food. If you prefer to relax in camp and watch the snowy landscape from the comfort of a warm tent, enjoy! If you prefer to spend the whole day on the trail discovering one new vista after the next we are delighted to take you over the horizon. When the day’s adventures are done we have excellent chances to see the Aurora dancing green and red above the mountains while the dogs howl in the arctic twilight.
Our final morning in camp and time to say goodbye to the trails and vistas you have grown to love. Then it is back on the sled for the run back to the road. Kiss your favorite dog goodbye and then head back to Wiseman and the B&B for the night. This time you will have your own stories to share with our hosts who have lived in the Brooks Range for 30 years.
We catch the morning flight back to Fairbanks and shed our many layers. Who knew that Fairbanks was relatively warm? By early afternoon you should be un-packed and ready for the next adventure.
Round-trip airfare from Fairbanks
Outstanding guide service
Wholesome, and delicious food while in the wilderness
Stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Repair and safety equipment
Wall tent and stove
Winter camping tools
Winter grade sleeping bag and pads
Snowshoes and/or skis
2 nights lodging in Wiseman, AK
Non-camp lodging except in Wiseman April 6 and 12
Non-camp meals except in Wiseman
Personal clothing, and footwear
Gratuity for guide(s)
See full equipment list for details
Temperatures vary dramatically in the arctic. We could see temperatures from -20 to +40 F. Average temperatures should be around 10 F with warm afternoons and cold nights. Multiple layers will ensure comfort despite the dramatic temperature swings common in April. Please consult with us about what clothes to bring so that you are comfortable and follow our winter packing list carefully. Bugs? We might see some snow fleas but you can leave the DEET at home.