Post Summary: Dog Sledding In Banff and How To Book The Right Trip
What do you get when you cross furry floofs, a fresh layer of snow, and lots of snuggles and treats?
Dog sledding in Banff, of course!
On our latest trip to Canada, we had the privilege of experiencing one of the best Banff winter activities around.
Banff dog sledding is such an iconic event – everything from the excited pups to the hot cocoa afterward shouts winter fun!
But how in the world do you wade through all the tour groups, options, prices…and even the ethics of it all?
Fear not, because in this post we’re sharing everything you need to know about Banff dog sledding which includes dog sledding prices, how to prepare for your trip, and a review on the treatment of the adorable dogs.
We’re sharing all the details below. Keep reading!
Dog Sledding In Banff National Park: Everything You Need To Know
Dog Sledding Companies In Banff
So you may be wondering, “Where can I go dog sledding in Canada?”
Thankfully, there are a lot of really great and reputable dog sled tour companies in Banff! The companies vary in features and tour length, so we recommend doing the research and choosing which one is right for you.
The only one operating WITHIN park boundaries is Kingmik Dog Sledding Tours. All the rest are still very much nearby but located in neighboring areas like Canmore and Spray Lakes.
Here are our recommendations for Dog Sledding Outfitters in and around Banff National Park:
Banff Dog Sledding Prices
With all the tours in consideration, we would expect an average dog sledding price per person to be between $150-$250.
However, Banff dog sledding prices will vary greatly on the length and features of the tour! The price, length, and features are completely up to you and your budget.
We’ve seen everything from a 30 minute “Narnia” tour by Banff Tours for $125 per person to a multi-day adventure by Snowy Owl Dog Sled Tour that goes for $1500 per person (but it’s totally epic)!
What If You Need to Reschedule Your Banff Dog Sledding Tour?
Each company has its own cancellation policy. When reserving your tour, make sure you know the parameters of when you can get your money back if necessary!
If it is a VERY cold day, the companies will likely reschedule your tour for you – it might be too cold for the dogs, too! This is likely when the temperature drops way down to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit). Otherwise, game on!
Looking for a cheaper Banff winter activity? Try Ice Skating on Lake Louise!
Ethics of Dog Sledding In Banff
Are you concerned about the treatment of the sled dogs running the tours?
It may seem like hard labor from an outside perspective – they ARE pulling your sled, after all! Sled dog welfare, nutrition, and treatment are a common concern for many considering a Banff dog sledding tour.
We think these are excellent questions to ask! Because of animal lovers like you, nearly all the Banff sled dog tour companies have been transparent and open with the care, health, and well-being of their pups.
Many of them have a dedicated web page on their site to share details like living quarters, playtime, and even names of the beloved dogs! We encourage anyone considering booking a tour to read about the company’s treatment of the dogs.
Want to know which companies are committed to sled dog welfare? Read about reputable companies from The Canadian Coalition of Sled Dogs to learn more.
But it all boils down to this: sled dogs LOVE to run, and they LOVE to work! Your Banff dog sledding tour is what gets them excited for the day!
How To Prepare For Your Trip (What To Wear For Dog Sledding)
High winds whipping your face, chilly fingers snapping the camera shutter, and looking into the bright white snow…looks like you’ll need to bundle up to stay cozy!
When preparing for your sled tour, it’s better to overpack. You can always leave extra gear in your car or at the company’s office. You’ll enjoy yourself SO much more if you are warm!
If you know you need some gear, call ahead to your dog sledding tour company and see if they have any gear available. If not, keep reading below for some recommended winter outfitters in Banff and Lake Louise.
What To Wear During Your Banff Dog Sledding Tour
Winter Parka: Choose one with a *faux* fur hood like this one from The North Face to dampen the biting wind, and keep your bum cozy with its extra length.
Hand and Foot Warmers: Going to be going out on lots of Banff winter adventures? Buy a multi-pack for a large number of options for hands, toes, and pockets.
Thin Liner Gloves and A Thicker Mitten Over Top: Two are necessary! You’ll want nimble fingers to shoot photos when snuggled in the sled, and a bulky outer layer when driving the sled. We like these thin ones from Smartwool, and these super-duty ones by REI.
Cozy Hat With Ear Covers: Grab your favorite cozy beanie (this one is our favorite), or go all in and grab an epic excursion cap like this one from Outdoor Research.
Buff Or Scarf: This is an essential piece of gear to keep your face covered from the winter and harsh winter conditions. Grab a buff and use it for all kinds of activities – not just for dog sledding!
Sunglasses: Is your Banff dog sledding tour on a sunny day? The crisp white snow will amplify the light! Make sure to protect your eyes and bring a pair of sunglasses for the ride.
Snow Boots: Nothing is worse than frozen toes! Make sure to choose quality snow boots, especially ones that are waterproof.
But what if I have NONE of these things?
Banff in winter is a popular destination for tourists. Therefore, there are several reputable companies that can provide you with the proper equipment to enjoy the amazing winter activities the area has to offer!
Check with your dog sledding tour company first. Many can rent you everything from boots to snow pants, and coats to mittens. Snowy Owl Tours even have hand warmers for purchase if you forgot yours in your hotel room!
Here are some companies to consider when renting snow gear in Banff:
- Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise
- Snowtips Backtrax in Banff Town Center
- Your hotel may even have options for you, too!
What Is A Banff Dog Sledding Tour Like?
So, what can you expect on a Banff dog sledding tour? Well, lots of barking, yelling (for directions of course), and loads of fun, for starters!
Below, we’re sharing what to expect before the tour, during the ride, and afterward, so you can be prepared for an awesome Banff winter day.
Briefing With Your Group (Choosing Sleds)
Once you arrive at your meeting spot, you’ll immediately hear the excited barks of the dogs as they pace back and forth waiting to be hooked up to their harnesses.
After a few quick pets, you’ll step aside with the group and make sure everyone is there. The tour guides will assign you into sleds, which is almost always with the people you booked the trip with.
They’ll give you a rundown of how long the tour will be, the general route, what features are along the way (lakes, moose, Continental Divide, etc), and general safety tips for riding in the dog sled. Listen up!
Meeting The Sled Dogs Before Your Tour
The dogs that carry the dog sled are almost always Alaskan Huskies, but you may find a variety of dogs like Malamutes and Siberians.
Unlike some Siberian Huskies who are mainly bred for their fluffy looks and beauty, these pups are bred for their strength and endurance.
Therefore, many of the Alaskan Huskies don’t look alike at all! Some are skinny and lean, others are fluffy and big, but they all have one thing in common: they LOVE to run!
You’ll be introduced to your dogs one by one and learn their names. Spend some time chatting and bonding with them for a richer experience. They’ll love the extra pets!
Getting In Your Dog Sled
Your tour guide will help you properly get into the dog sled – it’s harder than you think!
Once inside, you’ll be bundled up in a down sleeping bag or cozy blanket to keep you nice and warm on the trip.
If you’ve signed up for a three-person tour, you’ll likely have one person driving, and two sitting in the sled.
Prepare to get VERY cozy with your buddy because one person will sit right up to the back of the sled, and the other person will practically sit on their lap.
Want to experience it all? Make sure to tell your guide that you want to switch places during the trip. They can help you move around so everyone gets and a chance to do everything!
Banff Dog Sled Info: Because of such intimate seating, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be partnered with a stranger. Don’t worry!
Dogsledding In Banff (And Leading The Pack!)
Once free to run from their anchors, they will RUN! It feels like they start at a full sprint, and then slowly begin to find their pace. It’s an exhilarating experience for dogs and riders alike!
Spend some time enjoying the beautiful snow-dusted forest, mountain peaks in the distance, and the joyful barks of the dogs.
On some tours, you may have the opportunity to drive the sled. This is completely up to you, and it’s a fun way to try a new Banff winter activity!
On our particular tour, we were able to park our sleds right in the middle of a frozen pond and let the dogs have a break.
This was also the time to switch places, so I (Emily) got to drive the sled and Berty got to rest inside. We also wandered around to pet the dogs.
Our favorite sled dog, Bee Bop, (yes, isn’t that the cutest name you’ve ever heard??) literally sat down any chance he could get. We were told he enjoyed running, but he was definitely the most passive of the dogs.
See him below soaking up the sunshine on this gorgeous sunny Banff winter day!
Hot Cocoa and Debriefing / Conversation
After the dog sledding tour with Snowy Owl, we were provided with hot cocoa and cider, as well as a cozy bonfire to wait for our van to arrive and take us back into town.
Here, we got to chat with other guests and discover where everyone was visiting from. It’s incredible to hear why they chose the tour. From honeymoons to family vacations to bucket list activities – there was so much diversity!
FAQs About Dog Sledding In Banff
Will I Drive My Own Dog Sled?
Driving your own dog sled depends on the company and tour you book. On shorter routes (like this 30 minute one from Banff Tours), there isn’t time to drive.
However, on longer expeditions, it’s common to take turns doing different tasks!
Will We See Wildlife?
Banff is a wild place! There’s almost always a chance to see wildlife.
In fact, on our most recent tour, we were told there was a moose that frequented part of the dog sled route. We didn’t see him, but maybe next time!
Who Should Take a Dog Sledding Tour in Banff?
Are you wondering if you or your loved ones are fit for a dog sled tour in Banff?
The biggest concerning factor for people would be the weather. If it’s an especially cold day in Banff, it might be too cold for very young or very old family members to join. This is up to your discretion to decide.
Nearly anyone can take the trip – you will likely be sitting in the sled, and potentially taking charge of it if you want! The length of the tour and the physical demands are completely up to you.
If you’re pregnant, make sure to call your doctor and make sure it’s a safe decision for your situation. Also, consider checking with your Banff dog sledding outfitter to learn about trail conditions for the day!
The age requirements for Banff dog sledding varies within each outfitter. Please call ahead to double-check!
Final Thoughts (Would We Go Dogsledding In Banff Again?)
How do you know if dog sledding in Banff is the right activity for you? We recommend reading reviews, and write-ups from other guests (like this blog post!) to determine if it’s the right Banff winter activity for you.
Here are our own thoughts:
The Highlights of Dog Sledding In Banff:
- One of the most iconic Banff winter activities!
- Hanging out with adorable pups.
- Trying something new, like driving a sled!
The Downside of Banff Dog Sledding:
- It can be very cold!
- You get dog hair all over your clothes (we really mean ALL over).
- There are inherent risks to dog sledding (falling off the sled, getting bit) but these things are VERY unlikely and highly preventable as well.
- You could get poop flung in your direction. Yes, they poop and run at the same time!
Overall, we would definitely go again! Many of the downsides of dog sledding can be prevented with a little preparation and research. We don’t think they should deter you from booking a tour!
We think that this is a really unique experience for anyone planning a trip to Banff National Park!