Dog Days of Summer

Sled Dogs2The golf cart sped along, almost silently gliding over the road in the White River National Forest, the sound of the meaty off road tires gripping the dusty surface and the commands of the driver were all that was heard. This cart was motivated by dog power, ten Siberian Husky sled dogs to be exact, and they were getting their morning exercise on this summer day.

“These dogs are doing what they do best, which is working,” said Sarah Spalla, kennel manager at Snow Caps sled dogs in Breckenridge. The outfit exclusively breeds Siberian Huskies that they train to be sled dogs, and the kennel currently houses 168 dogs. They offer several different visitor packages, year-round, including kennel visits and dog sled tours in the snow and sun.

“Our summer tours are unique, a lot of folks don’t expect to go dogsledding in the summer,” said Spalla.

Sled Dogs1As we took a tour of the kennel before the ride, shaded in the beautiful pine forest, the dogs were happy to see us- they jumped around excitedly and offered kisses to the palm of the hand. Each dog has its own personality, of course, and depending on the time of year, you might even meet some puppies.
“The dogs are extremely well socialized, so people can expect to leave with some pawprints on their shirts,” she said.

The operation has been around 27 years, starting with winter dog sled tours only and six dogs. The summer program started seven years ago as a way to get the dogs out and get them more exercise. It gives the dogs something unique to do to burn off their energy, and takes pressure off the other kennel trainers.Sled Dogs Summer visitors can expect a mellow ride along the mostly flat trail through the solitary forest, with some nice long range mountain views on the horizon and a few pit stops for the dogs to lap up water from a crystal clear creek.

“It’s been a huge benefit for our kennel, getting the dogs more exercise, and getting them more attention. It also helps with their social skills,” said Spalla.
In the winter, visitors can expect an hour-long tour through different trails based on customer preference. Spalla said most customers are parents with children staying in Breckenridge. Junior mushers can ride along on the slower uphill trails, and teenagers can hop on for the faster downhill sloped sections. A guide directs the dogs, while a snowmobile behind tows a passenger sled, a custom-built hauler that allows people to tag out for different trails.

“This is a very popular tour in the winter, we’re usually people’s day off from skiing,” said Spalla. “It is incredibly fun. A lot of people tell me it was a lot more fun than we expected. We have an awesome trail system compared to a lot of places, which is a huge benefit.”

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .


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