Please read over these questions. We try to be as descriptive and clear as possible about the experience we deliver, so your expectations, and the service we provide are the same.
Where are you located?
Our basecamp, where we do our tours is 2.4 miles up Taylor Fork Rd, which is west off Highway 191, the main road from Bozeman to West Yellowstone. We are approximatley 30 minutes from Big Sky, 40 minutes from West Yellowstone, and a little over an hour from Bozeman. We are several hours from Chico Hot Springs, Mammoth Hot Springs, Gardiner, or Jackson Hole.
Do your trips go through Yellowstone National Park?
No. Dogsledding is not allowed inside the National Park. We operate near the Park boundary, in an area known as the Taylor Fork. It is a wild and remote area, that is home to all the same wildlife that lives in the Park.
Is the area you do your trips pretty/scenic?
Yes, very. Our basecamp is in a large sagebrush meadow, and our trail network winds through sagebrush prairie and sub Alpine forest We are at the base of a mountain, and canyoned in between the mountain and the Taylor Fork River. There are no houses, buildings or condo's seen on our trips.
Will we see wildlife on our trip?
The Taylor Fork is considered one of the wildest places in the region. Wildlife is plentiful in the area. That being said- remember you will be traveling with 10-52 huskies (depending on group size), so wildlife may be in the area, but keeping a low profile, due to the large number of canines you are traveling with. However, every winter we see Moose, elk, wolves, coyotes, fox, otters and more- either on our trips, or while driving in and out of our basecamp. Keep your eyes peeled, there is always a chance you'll see wildlife.
Are your trips sight-seeing focused?
No. Our trips are dogsledding focused. The dogs are the highlight of our experiences. Our trips are not designed to be a sit-along, sight seeing tour. Our trips are interactive dogsledding experiences that allow you to meet, pet, and learn about sled dogs, and either go for a ride, or hopefully drive your own team of sled dogs. The one hour experience is geared a bit more towards "going for a ride" and just watching the world-go-by. But the 2.5 hour trip is sled dog focused with the intent of having everyone who wants to, drive their own sled at some point.
Where do we go on the dog sled trip and how long are we on sleds?
We have a 5 mile trail system that twists and winds its way through a 150 acre private mountain reserve, that is part of a much larger working ranch. Our trail system loops around our basecamp, so at any time we can quickly get back to camp
On our one hour trip, guests normally do all the trail network, and come back to our basecamp after approximately 40-45 minutes (conditions, group dynamics, etc... can alter time on trail) of dogsledding.
On the 2.5 hour trip, we typically do all of our trails and then come in for a short break, to let the dogs cool down, the guests warm-up, and switch around the guests between sleds, so everyone who would like to, gets the opportunity to drive a sled. Typcially on the 2.5 hour trip, there is about an hour and half, to an hour and 45 minutes of time on the sleds. The time is budgeted, for the 2.5 hour- for 30 minutes of transportation round trip from Rainbow Ranch, and 15 minutes of instructions /sled dog info and a ten minute break in the middle. Normally on the 2.5 hour trip all trails are run twice. Once before the break, then ran again in reverse after the break- time allowing. We usually travel 8-10 miles total on the 2.5 hour trip. Under normal conditions- the total time, door-to-door from Rainbow Ranch is 2.5 hours to 3 hours. So, the 9:30am trip would depart Rainbow Ranch Lodge at 9:30 and expect to be back between 12:00- 12:30.
What is your reservation /cancellation policy?
Our reservation policy is 100% of trip cost at time of booking, Our cancellation policy is 100% Refund if you cancel more than 14 days prior to your trip, 50% refund for cancellations from 13 days to 48 hours before trip. Cancellations made less than 48 hours prior to trip will receive no refund, however you can reschedule. If we have to cancel due to conditions (or any reason) we will give you a full refund.
Do you ever cancel due to weather?
We live in an area known to be cold and snowy. We are a winter adventure outfitter. So, typically we would only cancel due to snow if the roads are closed to get to us. If the roads are open- we are open. Under extreme cold conditions , -30 below zero (f) and colder, we will allow people to reschedule their trips to a warmer time. For families with participants under 12 years old, we will allow them to reschedule if it is -20 below zero (F) or colder. If no suitable time can be found to reschedule we will refund the trip price. We cancel more trips due to no snow and warm weater (early Dec and late March) then we do because its too snowy or cold. Trips booked for early Dec or late March should be prepared that cancellations might happen (full refund given)
Will we get cold?
We believe there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! If you are dressed properly (read our page on what to wear) and are of good health, you shouldn't get too cold. Wear good insulated boots, have a warm hat, and warm hand wear- those are key. We hear about cold hands and cold toes the most. So be prepared. In all honesty, any trip to Montana in the winter- visitors should have warm boots, mittens and hat. So don't set yourself up for a bad experience due to not renting or buying proper clothing. We do provide sleeping bags for guests to wrap up in while on the sled, and on our longer trip, we do come back to the heated tents of basecamp to warm up. If you are getting cold on trail- tell your guide and they can get you to camp quickly.
Do you rent cold weather gear?
Yes! We have coats, bibs, boots, mittens and hats available for rent. 1-2 items $10, the full set-up $20
How many people per sled?
We have two types of sleds. Both hold two adults comfortably- with one adult standing on the runners, and one adult sitting. Kids are allowed to ride on the lap of the sitting adult. Usually, just one lap riding kid per sled.
Is there a weight limit?
We do not have a suggested weight limit. We can always hook up more dogs for heavier clients. For our trips its more about mobility and fitness than weight. Can you comfortably walk in snow, when bundled up in clothes? Can you walk at 7,000 feet of elevation and not get too winded? Will you be able to kick alongside the sled while climbing a hill? These are more important questions than your weight. At any time- half your party will be sitting, and half will be standing on the runners. The person standing should be of reasonable fitness.
Can we pet the dogs?
Yes! Absolutely! Our dogs are friendly and most love getting attention. If one isn't interested in being petted, just move along to another. Most like being stroked on their back, more than being tapped on the head. Parents supervise kids.
What do the dogs do in the summer?
They move to Alaska, and live on a glacier and do tours there.
Why is it so expensive?
Compared to other guided activities it is comparatively priced. Very similarly priced to a day of fly-fishing, etc. The price though, is really due to one thing. Dog Care. We go through about 25,000 lbs of dog food a year. We have to take care of 50-70 dogs- 365 per year. Keeping them trained and fit is a full-time job. Hundreds of hours of care, training and prep-time go into putting on a trip.