We tend to go a lot of places that are quite a distance away and offer a change of scenery from our daily lives in the Rocky Mountains. Oftentimes, that means we head to the ocean! However, for this year’s spring break trip we decided to head to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for something that was totally different. Although every part of our trip was great, the highlight of this trip was our dog sledding adventure. We are both major dog lovers (our dogs are our babies) and I’m really obsessed with this experience… I can’t stop thinking about how cool the whole thing was. When we first decided to go to Steamboat, we weren’t really sure what all we would do. It’s a small ski town… and we don’t ski! I started checking activities on TripAdvisor and quickly noticed dog sledding with Grizzle-T was the #1 activity in town. It was something we had never thought of; we didn’t even know it was possible to do something like that!From the second the shuttle driver picked us up, the experience was great. We were able to ask questions, hear about the dogs and the business as we worked our way out to the country. We arrived and were quickly greeted by the excited energy of 123 eager dogs and the warm welcome of the owners Kris and Sara, as well as the rest of the Grizzle-T staff. Sara quickly started checking everyone’s gear to ensure it was sufficient. If there was something you weren’t sure about being warm enough, she had a supply that she readily handed over – gloves, boots, sunscreen…you name it, she had it. We left our stuff near the fire to be toasty warm upon our return and headed out to love on the dogs and receive our instructions. I believe you can always tell a person’s love and skill at something based on how easy they make it look and sound. That describes Kris’s mushing instructions to a T! After our instructions, we were broken into the appropriate groups. Imagine it… two groups of four sleds + one group of three sleds + 8 dogs per sled = 88 amped up dogs who could not wait to do their job, plus 35 more dogs wishing it was their turn to go for a ride! Add in about 30 anxious guests, and around 15 employees, and you can imagine the excitement that was building in the area. You would think a scene like this would be chaotic, but the employees are so well organized that the process flowed quickly and everything is well orchestrated. As we were in the “adults only group”, we were honored to learn that three of the dogs who would be placed on our sled have competed in the IDITAROD; some of them more than once!
These dogs are not your stereotypical fluffy black and white huskies. Much like marathon runners, these smaller athletic pups are built for endurance and strength. From the time they first get the command to run until the end of the trail, it is amazing to feel their strength, grace, and enthusiasm for their sport. Although they are little, they are fierce! I found that if I let up on the brake over flat stretches of the trail, they would speed up every single time. It’s important to keep them at an appropriate pace so they maintain about a 6 mile per hour speed. Even when we were at complete stops, with one of us in the sled, one of us having 100% of our weight on the brake, and having an additional brake anchored into the snow, they could really yank on the sled. Their ideal running temperature is 20 degrees below zero. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to spend with them – bright, clear sunny skies, cold temperatures, and absolutely pristine scenery. Our trail guide, Derek, was so cool to work with. He’d make sure that everything was going alright as you worked your way down the trail, giving you little tips along the way, but he would also make sure that you were able to enjoy the experience on your own. He also made sure to provide rest stops for the dogs as appropriate and would take pictures for you too. I must admit that it’s really nice to get some pictures of our travel activities without having to pay a small fortune for them like most tour companies charge!
After our 12 mile ride was over, we returned to the main area where we were able to spend more time interacting with the dogs and thank them for their work and the ride. These dogs are so loving and affectionate; they were delighted to receive pets and praise! I spent some extra time giving the oldest male in the kennels some hugs and easily could have taken him home with me. All the dogs are well socialized, so this is a great activity for people of all ages. After some final time with the dogs and a hot toddy, it was time to hit the road. This entire trip was a great change of pace and gives everyone deep appreciation for this art and sport. It is the perfect combination of fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery, kind people, and friendly, funny, fury athletes!
So, what are you waiting for!?! It is an experience that everyone should add to their adventure bucket list!
Be sure to check their website or call them at 970.870.1782 to schedule your tour! If you’re looking for other winter trip ideas in a great mountain town, click here for more information on Steamboat Springs, CO.