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Camping may not be the most glamorous way to spend a night, but it does put you in place to experience some of the universe’s most astounding grandeur. It’s pretty cheap lodging, too, leaving just the flight and/or car rental to get you far enough away from civilization so that the stars light up the sky. Here are some of the best places to stargaze in the U.S., and a nearby campground where you can stake a claim for the night for under $20.

Courtesy of Kevin Galens.

Courtesy of Kevin Galens.

Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park; near Gardiner, Wyoming

Perched on a sagebrush steppe near the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces, there’s little civilization nearby to pollute the night sky with light. Plus, at 6,200 feet, you’ve got fewer layers of atmosphere to deal with. Beware elk wandering through the campground at night. $20/night.

Courtesy of John Fowler.

Courtesy of John Fowler.

Goose Island Campground, Arches National Park; near Moab, Utah

The lack of moisture in the air in desert environments makes for a crisper view of the constellations. The beautiful red rock cliffs in the landscape of Arches National Park offer perfect framing. This campground is just outside the park near the Colorado River. $15/night

Courtesy of Shawn.

Courtesy of Shawn.

Wilderness State Park; Carp Lake, Michigan

This campsite on the tip of northern Michigan will yield spectacular views of the night sky, at times revealing glimpses of the Northern Lights. It’s also only six miles from the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, one of only 11 dark sky parks in the world devoted to minimizing light pollution for star observations. $20/night.

Courtesy of BevoStevo.

Courtesy of BevoStevo.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area; near Fredericksburg, Texas

The big Texas sky makes stargazing at Enchanted Rock easy, but its designation as an International Dark Sky Park makes it even better. It is dark enough at this central Texas park to see the Milky Way. The park service also offers stargazing parties if you are interested in learning about the constellations. $14/night for the hike-in campsites.

Courtesy of youngil_pyun.

Courtesy of youngil_pyun.

Sunset Campground, Death Valley National Park; Inyo County, California

One of the darkest night skies in the United States hangs over Death Valley. The country’s third and final International Dark Sky Park, Death Valley offers views of celestial happenings not visible by the naked eye hardly anywhere else in the world. Catch glimpses of stardust, shooting stars and other phenomena. $12/night.

Courtesy of Daveynin.

Courtesy of Daveynin.

Aspenglen Campground; Estes Park, Colorado

This park in the Colorado Rockies has very little light and ample opportunities to turn your eyes toward the skies. Some say stargazing here in winter is best, when the moisture in the air congeals to ice crystals and makes the air more transparent. $15/night.

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Forget pumpkin carving and apple picking, your wish list of things to do this fall is a bit more ambitious. You are hoping to catch that once-in-a-blue-moon soccer game, or hit up an Oktoberfest at a legit brewery. You want to attend a huge charity concert in Central Park, and see a world religious leader speak. Sure, sure, you’ll check out the beautiful foliage along the way. You just need a little help getting there—financially that is. Cheap Tickets has your back. Check out the event ticket part of Cheaptickets.com, and use the promo code TICKETS10 for 10% off.

Global Citizen Festival

Great Lawn in Central Park

New York, New York

Sept. 26, 12 p.m.

Tickets start at $152

Bird's-eye-view of the 2014 Global Citizens Festival. Courtesy of Anthony Quintano.

Bird’s-eye-view of the 2014 Global Citizens Festival. Courtesy of Anthony Quintano.

Headliners of this annual festival include Beyoncé, Coldplay (sold!), Pearl Jam and Ed Sheeran. If that’s not star-studded enough, tack on a list of hosts that includes Stephen Colbert, Salma Hayek, Hugh Jackman, Kerry Washington and Olivia Wilde. Proceeds go toward the eradication of extreme poverty.

 

Austin City Limits  

Zilker Park

Austin, Texas

Oct. 2-4, 9-11

Three-day pass starts at $415

Iggy Azalea performs at Austin City Limits. Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen.

Iggy Azalea performs at Austin City Limits. Courtesy of Ralph Arvesen.

Leave it to Austin City Limits to pack in the most musical goodness into two weekends as humanly possible. Acts such as Drake, Foo Fighters, Alt-J, Hozier, Modest Mouse, The Decemberists, A$AP Rocky, and Walk the Moon will be gracing the stage, just to name a few. It’s important to save money on the ticket purchase since hotel rates will likely go up during these two weekends as well.

 

Oktoberfest

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Chico, California

Oct. 4-7

Tickets start at $104

Courtesy of Steven Guzzardi.

Courtesy of Steven Guzzardi.

Don your lederhosen and raise your glass for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest celebration. This is the first year the festival will span three days, and a fabulous alternative to forking out the cash to travel across the pond to Germany. Prost!

 

CONCACAF Cup: United States vs. Mexico

Rose Bowl

Pasadena, California

Oct. 10, 6 p.m.

Tickets start at $156

U.S. Men's National Team in 2013. Courtesy of Erik Drost.

U.S. Men’s National Team in 2013. Courtesy of Erik Drost.

 More than 90,000 fans are expected to turn out for this high-stakes clash against the U.S. Men’s’ National Team and Mexico. A win here will be the USMNT’s ticket to the Confederations Cup in Russia, which will let the team scope out the stage they’ll be entering in World Cup 2018. Teams that make it to the Confederations Cup always have an advantage in the subsequent World Cup, and the USMNT is gunning for it.

 

An American in Paris

The Palace Theater

New York, New York

Oct. 16, 8 p.m.

Tickets start at $71 (check out a matinee for a cheaper show)

An American in Paris. Courtesy of James Joel.

An American in Paris. Courtesy of James Joel.

The story of an American World War II veteran in Paris trying to make a name for himself as a painter, who falls in love with a French girl. Gene Kelly made the musical famous with the 1951 movie, and Broadway will bring it to life again this fall. Critics are saying it’s not to be missed.

 

Ohio State University vs. Michigan

Michigan Stadium

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Nov. 28, time TBA

Tickets start at $137 

Courtesy of Scott Stuart.

Courtesy ofScott Stuart.

If you can score tickets to this game, you’re the envy of tens of thousands of Ohio State and Michigan fans. In fact, if you’ve spent too much money on other fall events, you’ll do yourself a favor and resell these tickets. But if you care at all about college football, this game is not to be missed. The OSU/Michigan rivalry is heralded as one of the thickest competitions in the sport, transcending generations.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Limited-time Offers, Music, New York City, Sports

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If the open water draws you, buying a kayak may be one of the best investments of your life. That initial price you pay for your vessel will return the favor 10-fold, giving you the freedom to travel with your kayak nearly anywhere. Renting kayaks aren’t always cheap, but you can save a pretty penny if you bring your own. Here are 10 places to plop down your kayak. Note: Make sure to double check open water laws while planning your trip.

Related: Cheapest places to ‘go jump in a lake’

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Great Long Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

Kayak through the crystal waters of Great Long Pond, with the backdrop of beautiful mountain scapes. Go in October for some gorgeous foliage that reflects perfectly on the lake. Rental option: National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental, Mount Desert, Maine. $34/3 hours.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Lake Estes, Estes Park, Colorado 

The Rocky Mountains jut up around this lake near the entrance to Estes Park, the gateway to RockY Mountain National Park. Go in early summer to avoid monsoon season and the threat of mudslides. Rental option: Lake Estes Marina, Estes Park, Colorado. $11/half-hour.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Colorado River, Austin, Texas

Urban meets natural surroundings on this kayak trip. Make sure to slow down and listen for the millions of bats that live in the Congress Avenue bridge when you paddle under. Rental option: Congress Avenue Kayaks, Austin. $10/hour.

 

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Licking River, Pendleton County, Kentucky

For a river adventure in Northern Kentucky, plop down in the Licking River. It’s big enough to be enjoyable but not as daunting and dangerous as paddling the nearby Ohio River. Go in late summer to see the quickly disappearing tobacco crop by the barn full, recently harvested and hung out to dry. Rental option: Thaxton’s Canoe and Paddler’s Inn, Kentucky. $24/3-hour trip.

 

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Prince William Sound, Alaska

Kayaking in Alaska calls for a bit of a heartier vessel than a lake in the lower 48. Traversing Prince William Sound will take you up close and personal with glaciers and possibly humpback whales. Rental option: Anadyr Adventures, Valdez, Alaska. $45/day. Note: They only rent to experienced sea kayakers. Some areas require permits to kayak.

 

Courtesy of rayb777.

Courtesy of rayb777.

Hocking River, Athens County, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park forms the perfect scenery for a kayak trip in the hills of southern Ohio. Don’t be afraid to venture out of your vessel—Hocking Hills has some of the best hiking in the state, and is ripe with rock formations such as natural bridges that are often just a five-minute walk from the river. Rental option: Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, Logan, Ohio. $15/hour.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Marais, Minnesota

There are at least 10,000 places to plop down a kayak in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but the Boundary Waters in the northern part of the state are solely traversable by canoe or kayak. This adventure is best undertaken on a multi-day trip. Rental option: Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, Tofte, Minnesota. $32/day (note: Sawbill does not have kayaks available for rent, and most of their canoes and other equipment are rented as part of an excursion package).

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Portage Bay, Seattle, Washington

There are a plethora of waterways to kayak around Seattle, but Portage Bay offers a slew of restaurants that you can paddle up to. Plus you don’t necessarily need a sea kayak on this bay. Watch out for other boaters. Rental option: Agua Verde Cafe Paddle Club, Seattle, Washington. $17/hour.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

 Kealakekua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

A mile-long paddle across the bay will take you to the Captain Cook Monument. Take your time getting there though, and watch the water—the bay is a marine life conservation district, and dolphins areoften seen frolicking among the kayakers. Rental option: Adventures in Paradise Kayak and Snorkel, Captain Cook, Hawaii. Only offers kayak tours for $89.95, no individual kayak rentals.

 

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sleeping Bear Bay near Traverse City, Michigan

Crest the marvelous Sleeping Bear Dunes with kayak in tow and hike down to the bay off Lake Michigan. Go in late summer, when the weather is perfect in northern Michigan. Sea kayaks are recommended, as the waters can get a little rough. Rental option: Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak, Empire, Michigan. Sea kayaks for $60/day.

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Taking a vacation to hang with the world’s most famous mouse and his fairy tale friends may not be in the budget this year, but that doesn’t mean that adventurous, family-friendly fun is out of reach. Check out these comparatively budget-friendly options that offer everything from free parking and drinks to complimentary preview days.

Adventureland, Altoona, IA
Located just east of Des Moines, Adventureland entertains visitors with over 100 rides,live shows and attractions, including some of the nations most exciting coasters that challenge even the most avid thrill-seekers. Beyond the large-scale coasters, there’s also an array of water attractions at Adventure Bay, like Iowa’s longest lazy river, 20 water slides, pool with swim-up bar for both parents and little ones, 25,000-square-foot wave pool, sand beach sundeck, kid’s activity pool, splash pad and children’s rides throughout the park.

Adventure Bay

Photo: Adventure Bay via altoonachamber.org

The newest attraction to the park is Storm Chaser, a giant swing ride that takes riders 260 feet off the ground and spins them at 35mph. We recommend testing your bravery on this one with an empty stomach.

Discount coupons are usually available at Iowa HyVee and Taco John stores, so check them out when you’re in the neighborhood.

General Admission: $40 (ages 10+); $35 (ages 4-9 and 69+)

Lake Canobie Lake

Photo: Lake Canobie via ZelenyOko on Flickr

Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH

Canobie Lake Park got it’s start in 1902 as a trolley park, which were parks created by U.S. rail companies, typically at the end of their lines by lakes, rivers and beaches, to drum up weekend business and provide a resting place for weekday commuters.  It’s also one of only a handful of family-owned amusement parks remaining in the country.  A strong sense of nostalgia remains in the park with their carousel that’s been running since 1906 and the 1930’s Dodgems bumper cars; but, the vintage charm is tempered by the thrilling appeals of a modern-day amusement park.

Canobie Ferris

Photo: Canobie Lake Park Ferris Wheel via milst1 on flickr

Wooden coaster, Yankee Cannonball, with it’s stomach-in-the-throat, air-time hills and the 97-degree drop of the steel behemoth, Untamed, provide the much-needed juxtaposition to the gentle rides remaining from the parks earlier, gentler days.

While Canobie doesn’t offer a full-scale water park, Castaway Island’s interactive play station with water slides, a tipping bucket and a variety of sprayers and water cannons provides the perfect cool-down spot for toasty travelers. For more water fun, hop on the Policy Pond log flume or get dunked like a tea bag on the Boston Tea Party splashdown ride that unleashes a gigantic plume of water guaranteed to drench the camera-toting bystanders.

Unlike most parks, parking is always free. Before visiting, check their Specials page for online-only promotions or to join CanobieClub for access to email promotions.

General Admission: $36 (over 48”); $27 (under 48” and age 60+); ages 3 and under are free; $25 (after 5pm)

Coney Island Nathan's Famous

Photo: Coney Island via drpavloff on Flickr

Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Clear your schedule for a rite-of-passage journey to the sacred birthplace of the hot dog. Come packing a Costco-sized supply of Pepto with stomachs empty as there’s no shortage of vendors eager to sell their version of this American culinary icon.

Located in the southernmost tip of Brooklyn, Coney Island is a neighborhood and beach well-known for it’s amusement area that includes more than 50 rides and attractions. It’s unique in that since it’s inception, it’s never been a singularly owned entity but rather a collection of independent owners, operators and vendors. For this reason, admission to enjoy the grounds is free and rides are pay-as-you-go, allowing the budget conscious to control their spend.

Coney Island Wonder Wheel

Photo: Coney Island Wonder Wheel via wallyg on flickr

While its true Coney Island suffered setbacks and seemed to be headed for permanent closure, the passion of several organizations has helped to revitalize this important piece of Americana. Luna Park opened in 2010 and new rides and shows have been attracting the world’s most curious to this uniquely urban play land.

Hours of operation vary and depend on the crowd and the whim of the owners. Enjoy a spectacular fireworks display every Friday starting the last weekend of June, running until the Friday before Labor Day.

General Admission: Free, pay as you go for rides and games

Hersheypark, Hershey, PA
Hershey, Pennsylvania is a fun-packed destination committed to preserving the well-respected legacy of Milton S. Hersey, founder of an American favorite, The Hershey Chocolate Company. Initially built as a place for Hershey Chocolate Company employees to relax, Hersheypark draws visitors from all over the world with over 70 rides and attractions, including 12 coasters, 14 unique water attractions in The Boardwalk at Hershey and 20 kiddie rides.

Hershey Water

Photo: Hersheypark via JoeShlabtonik on Flickr

New this year is Laff Trakk, the first indoor, spinning, glow-coaster in the U.S. Riders spin through an exhilarating sensory adventure of sights and sounds with glimpses of colorful characters and a dizzying hall of mirrors.

Hershey Park’s website offers insider money-saving tips from where to get coupons to information on their preview program, which allows visitors to enter the park the night before their scheduled date of entry for a free 2 1/2 hour preview.

General Admission: $61.95 (ages 9-54); $38.95 (ages 3-8 and 55-69); $24.95 (ages 70+)

Lake Compounce

Photo: Lake Compounce via milst1 on Flickr

Lake Compounce, Bristol, CT

Not only is Lake Compounce the oldest, continuously-operating amusement park in North America, it’s home to Boulder Dash, which has been consistently voted as the world’s #1 wooden roller coaster. Known as a terrain coaster, Boulder Dash uses the mountain as it’s base and follows it’s thrilling topography past trees and boulders with 115’ drops and speeds up to 60mph.

Boulder Dash

Photo: Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce via milst1 on flickr

Surrounded on three sides by a mountain and boasting a lake, the park stays in synch with the natural beauty of its setting. The Mark Twain sternwheeler cruises the lake, while a vintage open air electric trolley transports guests to the base of Southington Mountain where they can board gondola cars with promises of breathtaking views on Skyride’s 700-foot climb to the summit.

Crocodile Cove Water Park is included in the price of admission and offers guests an opportunity to cool down on those hot summer days. While not as large as some other water parks, this watering hole is unique in that park-goers can choose to ride traditional slides that empty out into the lake or soak up the sun onthe sandy beach.

The Dino Expedition attraction is the latest addition to this park and guests of all ages will come face-to-very-large-teeth with lifelike animatronic dinosaurs up to 40 foot long on self-guided pathways. Even the smallest paleontology-enthusiast can get in on the action with the open-air fossil dig where they can unearth fossils.

Those looking to trim costs will be happy to hear this park offers free water and sodas all day.

General Admission: $40.99 (52” or taller); $30.99 (under 52”)

Michigans Adventure

Photo: Michigan’s Adventure via Roller Coaster Philosophy on Flickr

Michigan’s Adventure, Muskegon, MI

Having the distinction of being Michigan’s largest amusement park, Michigan’s Adventure doesn’t disappoint with over 60 rides and attractions, including Wildwater Adventure. The price of admission gives park-goers access to both parks, good news for those watching their bottom line.

This park appeals to all ages with their balance of family-centric rides, like bumper cars, go-karts, and paddle boats fashioned to look like swans, with thrill-seeking rides like mile-long Shivering Timbers wooden coaster that reaches heights of 125 feet. It’s also one of the only coasters in the world to feature a crooked trick track that unexpectedly tosses riders from left to right.

Shivering  Timbers 2

Photo: Shivering Timbers at Michigan’s Adventure via Roller Coaster Philosophy on Flickr

Like most parks, eating onsite can leave you scraping the bottom of your pocketbook, so many visitors chose to pack a cooler and picnic in the parking lot. General admission, food and drink discounts are available when purchased online and local retailer, Meijer, often offers in-store discounts.

General Admission: purchase online for $29.99, ages 2 and under are free

Palace Playland Ticket Booth

Photo: Palace Playland via Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr

Palace Playland, Old Orchard Beach, ME

With free admission and ample parking, New England’s only beach-front amusement park covers 4 acres and lets vacationers set their own budget. Pay for rides individually by purchasing tickets or splurge for the all-day pass that gives your unlimited access to over 25 rides and attractions. The park delivers fun for all ages, with gentle giants such asthe carousel and Ferris wheel to the hold-onto-your britches pendulum swing of the Adrenalin. The steel Italian-made coaster, Galaxi, taxis riders several stories up for the best views of the beach before sending them careening back to solid ground.

The 24,000 square foot arcade contains more than 200 games, with such classics like Skeeball and Fortune Tellers and the modern coin-operated video games.

Palace Playland Arcade

Photo: Palace Playland Arcade via Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr

Palace Playland lets attendance and weather be their guide when setting a daily closing time, creating the romantic illusion of an endless summer.

General Admission: No fee for admission. $32 day pass with unlimited rides, $24 kiddie pass recommended for kids under 42” tall. $1.30 single ticket (each ride takes 2-4 tickets)

Story by Maria

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Family, New York City, Off-season, Tips & advice

Maria Barnes

Maria Barnes

Maria Barnes

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Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

With barely 1,000 miles of highway to Alaska’s more than 570,000 square miles, dog sledding is not only a popular sport, but a convenient means of transportation throughout the state.

It is a tradition for most and a lifestyle for some, namely those who take part in the treacherous 1,150 mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome (which is basically the Olympics of dogsled racing). There are companies in Alaska that offer a taste of that brutality year-round, allowing tourists to take dog sleds out for a spin.

But lucky for those of us that live in the lower 48, you don’t have to traverse the Great White North to try your hand at mushing. Here’s a look at the best places to ride a dog sled this winter that are a little closer to home.

Wintergreen Dogsled LodgeEly, Minnesota

The folks at Wintergreen invite people of all ages and fitness levels to participate in their dogsled experiences, which take customers through the boundary waters in northern Minnesota. The tours are crafted according to the customer’s skill levels, but no experience is necessary. Wintergreen’s website says its been operating for more than 25 years and had customers as young as 6 and old as 85 riding across the frozen wilderness.

Photo courtesy of Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge.

Photo courtesy of Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge.

You can go full Balto and do multiple-night trips where customers dog sled from lodge to lodge, or opt for a simple day trip. There are dozens of trips to choose from that vary in length, skill level, and route. There are parent-child trips, where the pair gets their own dogsled on which to explore. There are even trips aimed at improving customers’ photography skills.

Each of those categories has options for different skill levels, of course, and offers training – not just in dog sledding, but in dog care and harnessing, snowshoeing, camping, outdoor cooking, winter ecology, backcountry skiing, cold weather comfort and more.

The prices vary among experiences, age of participant and time of year, but an 8-hour day trip costs about $250 and the multiple night trips can cost more than $1,000. Prices for children are discounted. Book in advance, as some experiences are already full.

Nature’s KennelMcMillan, Michigan (Upper Peninsula)

One owner of this dogsled business has raced in at least seven Iditarods, which means the place is legit.

If you are looking for a small taste of dog sledding and don’t want to spend more than $100, Nature’s Kennel in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula may be your best bet. They offer a slew of sledding experiences, but the best deal is the half-hour trip.

Photo courtesy of Nature's Kennel

Photo courtesy of Nature’s Kennel

During the half-hour trip, which cost $75, guests are given a ride around Boyne Highlands Resort near Harbor Springs, Michigan. This option is available on all winter weekends and holidays. Pay double the price for the full hour.

Nature’s Kennel is owned by a husband-wife duo (and their two toddlers). They spend most of the summer getting ready for the winter, when they bring in a couple people to help guide the tours. This year, the helpers are a woman from Newark, Ohio, who owns her own kennel of Alaskan huskies, and a woman from New Zealand, who names the Himalayas as one of the most beautiful places she’s ever been.

Adirondacks region – New York

Home to the first Olympic dog sled demonstration and its own popular dog sled race, theAdirondacks can be the perfect place to take to the sled. Several resorts throughout the mountain towns offer sled rides to their guests, and some year-round residents still use dog sleds as a reliable form of transportation.

Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

And the sleds they ride on are often made near home. Local craftsmen fashion sleds out of strong and lightweight ash trees native to the Adirondacks, ranging in size from children’s sleds to those meant to carry heavy loads.

Winter in the Adirondacks is a thing of beauty. There are cozy towns and inlets around nearly every remote turn. It’s hard to pick one little town in which to stay (they all have their allure at any time of the year, really), but Lake Placid is by far one of the most visited cities in the mountains.

The quaint town, populated with outdoor gear shops, snug breweries and inviting coffee shops, envelops Mirror Lake, which freezes over in the winter. When the snow falls and the lake freezes, dog sled drivers line Main Street and offer passers-by a ride across the lake. Prices vary, and mushers always check the safety of the frozen lake before taking out passengers. Notable places to dog sled: Golden Arrow Dogsled Rides and Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours.

Yellowstone Dog Sled AdventuresBig Sky, Montana

In Yellowstone National Park, winter is a nine-month experience, making the terrain excellent for mushing. In the high altitude and cold, the Alaskan Huskies thrive. Even during the three blissful months of “summer,” when most of the snow melts, Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures is operational and the dogs are running.

Photo courtesy of  Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures

Photo courtesy of Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures

This company offers two options – a one-hour trip and a half-day trip (cost is $95 and $195, respectively, for adults. Kids rates are $45 and $150.) The half-day trip seems the more desirable of the two. It takes riders through the mountains of Montana and offers scenic views and photo opportunities. There are different options within the half-day trip, in which patrons can choose to ride with a guide (cuddled up in a sleeping bag on the back), tandem (you drive while another person in your group rides), or drive your own sled.

The owners warn that these trips are not for the faint of heart or lung. Even at the lowest altitude in Yellowstone, you are still at an elevation about a mile high. Although the sledding trips probably won’t take you from the highest to lowest point in the park, the high altitude and thin air make the trips inhospitable to inactive folks.

Mountain Musher Dog Sled RidesVail Valley, Colorado

The Mountain Musher tour runs a private trail through Aspen groves and pine forests in the Rocky Mountains. The trails aren’t shared with snowmobiles or cross-country skiers, although they may be shared with wildlife such as elk, fox, coyote and deer.

There are several sledding businesses operating throughout the Rockies, at least one of which recently underwent animal abuse accusations. Mountain Musher has been in business since 1989 and often receives positive reviews.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides

Photo courtesy of Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides

Two trips leave daily – once in the morning and once in the afternoon – and last about two hours. Two people (or one adult and two small kids, or three small kids) are allowed per sled, and a musher stands behind the passengers and controls the dogs. The ride is about six miles and costs $175 a person. But you get a snack of homemade pumpkin bread and hot cocoa midway through the trip, plus a nice photo opp. If you want the sled to yourself, it’ll cost you the price of two people ($350). Holiday prices are also elevated, so if you’re looking to get the experience on a budget, avoid the end of December, MLK Day weekend and Valentine’s Day weekend.

Reservations are required, but make sure you’re committed – you’ll be charged if you cancel your trip.

Tagged: Family, Sports, Tips & advice