By Patricia Doherty
Updated February 25, 2020
Advertisement
Getty Images

The thrill of speeding across frozen land on a sled pulled by furry, barking dogs is a sublime and other-worldly Alaskan experience. Add to that an exhilarating helicopter ride over snowy peaks to the blue ice of the Mendenhall Glacier. Top off the adventure with a visit to a sled dog camp and a chance to meet the incredible canines and their adorable puppies.

You can do all of this on the Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier tour with True Alaskan Tours and Temsco Helicopters. The Mendenhall, about 13 miles from downtown Juneau, is one of North America’s most beautiful glaciers with ice up to 1,800 feet deep. The glacier is a half-mile wide and 13 miles long, ending in Mendenhall Lake’s clear, frigid water and floating blue icebergs.

Your excursion begins in Juneau with transportation from your cruise ship to the heliport. There you’ll view a safety video and receive glacier boots to keep your shoes dry and add some traction for walking on ice. You’ll board the helicopter, and the tour begins with your pilot describing the scenery below — rainforest, sapphire-hued crevices, and rugged mountain peaks. You’ll soon land at the only dog camp on Mendenhall Glacier.

Your sled dog team will be selected and hitched up for the trip across the glacier. Their excitement at doing what they love will be obvious, and you’ll have the option of driving the team along with the professional mushers or simply sitting back and enjoying the scenery. A chance to actually walk on a glacier and peer through the ice will be unforgettable.

Before you bid goodbye to your sled dogs, you’ll have time to chat with the mushers, take photos with the dogs, and meet the next generation — the delightful puppies. Then, you’ll be back in the helicopter for another glimpse of the Alaskan terrain from above, knowing that you’re among the few who have actually set foot on the Mendenhall Glacier.

"Walking on the glacier was the highlight of our spectacular Alaskan cruise," one guest wrote in their review. "The helicopter ride to and from the glacier was in itself an adventure." Another wrote, "The dogs are amazing … you can’t help but laugh and want to take one home."

The Dog-sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier Tour is available from May 7 through Sept. 8. It lasts about three hours, and the cost per person is $590.00. Guests must be able to get in and out of the helicopter with an 18-inch step and be able to walk on the glacier as well as on possible uneven slippery surfaces. Temsco can provide a walking stick on the glacier if needed, but crutches, canes, and wheelchairs are not permitted on the tour. Warm clothes, comfortable walking shoes, and rain gear are recommended.