As children, we both fell in love with Montana. Kevin, fell in love with the fantastic ski hills. I fell in love with the impressive wildlife and the snow. This year, we fell in love with Montana, all over again…at the speed of dog!
We both began flirting with dog sledding a few years ago, back in Wisconsin. We met a great team of mushers, Rick and Bonnie, and their fun loving rescue dogs, The Door County Sled Dogs. Mushers Rick and Bonnie inspired us to give dog sledding a try.
On our first adventure, we partnered up with Jeff Ulsamer at Dog Sled Adventures Montana. Jeff’s place is a couple of hours away from the B&B. It is a beautiful drive and made for a great day trip!
Our first experience walking into a real ‘dog yard’ was overwhelming. Jeff has over 100 Alaskan Huskies and each one greeted us enthusiastically!
The tails wagging, the excitement, the dramatic quiet of the sleds running in the snow, not to mention, the magic of winter in Montana, we could not get enough! But, how do you even start actually mushing? We had no idea, so we became ‘arm chair mushers’.
We began following a few teams, watching the race stats, and learning as much as we could about dog sledding. We just wanted MORE!
This is when the real fun began! In the fall of 2015, we were lucky enough to meet Jessie Royer Montana’s own professional musher. Jessie is a world class competitor, 10+ time Iditarod finisher, and she lives in our neck of the woods! We were excited when Jessie invited us out to meet her. Jessie Royer’s place is nestled on the banks of the Bitterroot River with a breath taking view of the mountains. As we made our way to the ranch, we caught a glimpse of Jessie and the race team running along the ridge of the mountain… all 24 Alaskan Huskies running in beautiful synchronicity, it gave us goose bumps!
At the ranch, Jessie gave us a tour of the dog yard and introduced us to her 2016 Iditarod Team. We were star struck meeting these celebrity ‘big dogs’. Jessie invited us into the barn to join her in preparing snacks for the team. This day’s snack was a King Salmon. We were given lessons on how to remove harnesses from the dogs, check their feet after the run, and more. The day got even more exciting when Jessie invited us to ride along on a 5 mile training run with her puppies! We got to ride with some veteran champions and witness them teaching the yearlings how to run as a team. The run followed the Bitterroot River and circled the bison field.
Does it get any better than that? Of course! The river is home to mule deer, white tail deer, the bald eagle and the elk! We saw them all, right from the trail. On that day, we experienced authentic Montana. It was a magical experience that we are sure to remember! The only bad part of the day was when it was over. Jessie was kind enough to invite us back. We will definitely follow up on that offer!
Thanks, Jessie, for helping us fall in love with Montana (and dogs), all over again!
Jessie Royer offers dog sled tours to the public, throughout the winter (weather and race schedule permitting). You can drive your own team or take a relaxing ride in the sled. Jessie’s tour rides last about 2 1/2 hours and cover 11 miles of majestic Montana trail. The tour run provides an up close look at the forest and also grand overlooks! If you would like to schedule a dog sled ride with your stay, just give us a call and we can assist with arrangements!