Best Dog-Friendly Skijoring Destinations

Posted by Scott Tunstall

With origins dating back to Scandinavia in the 1850s, skijoring has quickly become one of the U.S.’s most popular dog-friendly winter activities. Skijoring, which means “ski driving,” allows you and your pup to ski together using a harness and towline. It’s basically the winter sport’s answer to canicross. Just tether a strap from your waist to Fido’s safety vest, grab your skis and get ready to mush. While certain breeds are more suited to winter sports, most energetic pups over 35 lbs can join you on the trails. Whether you’re an eager novice or a savvy veteran, these 10 locations offer ideal conditions for skijoring.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch

Tabernash, CO
“Is it break time yet?” Photo by

Devil’s Thumb Ranch offers miles of pristine snow-covered Nordic trails perfect for skijoring in the Colorado Rockies. You and your four-legged Lindsay Vonn can venture into the great wide open on your own, or join experts for a clinic. During her visit to the ranch, your pup can check this fun activity off his winter bucket list, learn the basics, get in a good cardio blast and start a snowy obsession that lasts a lifetime. High Country Dogs also offers private skijoring lessons for you and your pooch.

To complete the Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa experience, stay at one of the on-site dog-friendly cabins in the woods which feature a wood-burning fireplace and kitchenette.

Minocqua Winter Park

Minocqua, WI
Two dogs? Could this guy be lazier? Photo by

The Northwoods of Wisconsin are famed for forests, lakes and friendly faces. With more than 30 trails ranging in levels of difficulty, Minocqua Winter Park is a veritable skijoring playground within the region. Glide across weaving wilderness paths or race the 6km skijor loop with your powder pup partner. Then, take a break from carving with your canine for a hot beverage at the park’s welcoming teahouse.

Located only 10 miles from Minocqua Winter Park, The Waters of Minocqua offers pet-friendly accommodations close to downtown.

The Resort at Paws Up

Greenough, MT
Big Sky Country FTW! Photo by

Soak in the captivating Montana landscape by skijoring the spacious grounds at The Resort at Paws Up. Stick to the resort’s numerous trails or explore 12 miles of pet-friendly ski trails that wind through the conifer-filled wilderness in the adjacent Lubrecht Experimental Forest. If Fido needs a break, you can trade paws for hooves and take a skijoring lesson with one of the resident horses leading the way. Paws Up provides all the necessary equipment and will help hone your skills on a training course before unleashing you and your equine partner on the competitive course.

If you decide to spend a night or two at The Resort at Paws Up, they offer several dog-friendly luxury homes, which include a welcome pet package of homemade treats, a Paws Up dog collar, use of a crate and a pet room service menu.

Tahoe Donner

Truckee, CA
“I prefer this to skijoring.” Photo by

Tahoe Donner boasts eight dog-friendly cross-country trails, including the Dogonit, Doggy Dipper and Dogs in Space trails. You can skijor to your heart’s content Monday through Friday until March 15 during daylight hours, except on weekends and holidays when hours are restricted to before 10 a.m. and between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Doggy day passes are required to gain entrance to all canine trails. Passes can be purchased for a fee of $15, and only one pup per person is permitted.

You and your ski buddy can bundle up in the Tahoe Donner Cabin, a warm and cozy secluded hideaway near the ski resort.

Gunstock Mountain Resort

Gilford, NH
“I’m doing all the work here.” Photo by

Since opening in 1937, Gunstock Mountain Resort has been a one-stop shop for winter wonderland activities of all kinds, including skijoring, tubing, snowshoeing and downhill racing. Stop by the on-site Nordic Center upon arrival to register your pup and acquire a trail pass. While pups are not permitted on any of the alpine or tubing hills, Fido can get his heart rate pumping on the XC Trails, 15 km of pet-friendly cross-country trails designated for skijoring. When hunger strikes, grab a bite from The Barrel Bar & Grille at the Historic Lodge and enjoy it at one of the outdoor tables.

For an affordable home away from home, spend the night at TownePlace Suites by Marriott Gilford, located only four miles from Gunstock Mountain Resort.

Three Rivers Park District

Plymouth, MN
“I’m very serious about skijoring.” Photo by

The “Land of 10,000 Lakes” features one of the country’s premier skijoring locations inside the Three Rivers Park District. The District comprises six different park reserves totaling over 20 miles of powdery pathways. Furry snowmobiles can pull their owners across designated cross-country and multi-use trails. Designated trails require a pass before entering, and all multi-use trails can also be utilized for sledding, snowshoeing, hiking and walking with dogs. All park areas in the District are only accessible during daylight hours.

Centrally located in the heart of Plymouth, Residence Inn Minneapolis Plymouth provides visiting skiers with a comfy pet-friendly home base.

North Fork Park

Liberty, UT
A Golden goes for the gold. Photo by

The 2,600-acre North Fork Park, located on the eastern side of the Wasatch Mountain Range, features 20 miles of groomed cross-country trails perfect for skijoring. The sport’s rapid growth in the area led to the formation of the Odgen Nordic Skijor Club, a community of dog lovers and winter enthusiasts that gathers in North Fork Park for fun with Fido. If you’re planning a trip to the park, contact the Skijor Club for recommendations on which trails are best depending on the time of year you visit.

For ski chalet-style accommodations, the Best Western Plus High Country Inn in nearby Ogden offers pet-friendly rooms in a picturesque mountain setting.

Nome Creek Valley

Fairbanks, AK
On Comet! On Cupid!

Nestled amongst the one million acres of the White Mountains National Recreation Area, Nome Creek Valley features over 250 miles of groomed winter trails perfect for skijoring, dog sledding and snowshoeing. Breathe in crisp, clean air while enjoying dazzling views of snow-covered peaks and deep valleys. The area is very remote, so packing plenty of food and water for both you and your pup is highly recommended. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the hypnotic green wonders of the aurora borealis that light up the valley’s night sky during January and February.

For a truly rustic Alaskan experience, stay in one of the 14 recreational cabins available throughout the White Mountains National Recreation Area. There is no electricity or running water, so plan accordingly by bringing heating supplies and food.

Winona Forest Recreation Area

Lacona, NY
Dashing through the snow ... Photo by

You and your furry partner are cordially invited to skijor 40 miles of enchanting forest snowscape spread across 25 trails in the Winona Forest Recreation Area. This 9,233-acre state forest averages more than 250 inches of snowfall per year, making it one of the go-to cold weather destinations in the eastern U.S. In addition to skijoring, this winter playground also attracts dog sledders, snowmobilers, fat tire bikers and runners. It hosts several organized races and events and is an excellent place to connect with fellow alpine pooches.

Drive 17 miles south to Williamstown for a restful night’s stay at this dog-friendly Gateway Cabin hilltop escape, a popular spot for winter outdoor enthusiasts.

CCC Ponds

Pinedale, WY
“Are you coming?” Photo by

Pinedale is a premier place for outbound hounds to experience skijoring for the first time or those looking to hone their skills on the powder. Located minutes from downtown, CCC Ponds is a lovely spot for a hike in the summer, and the groomed trails make the ideal canvas when snow is on the ground, too. Elsewhere, more experienced trail teams can explore the Wyoming Mountain Range, mush for miles on the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail through Bridger-Teton National Forest, or glide with their Irish Wolfhounds through Irish Canyon.

Lean your skis against a pet-friendly cabin at the Lakeside Lodge Resort and Marina when the sun goes down. Pups stay for free at this picturesque resort next to CCC Ponds.

Have you tried skijoring? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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