Boundary Waters Dog Sledding & Cross Country Skiing for Teens

Team up with exuberant sled dogs who love to pull and love to be loved on this exhilarating, eight to 15-day dogsledding and cross-country skiing expedition.
Allow yourself to be inspired as you ride the runners of a dogsled and cross-country ski through one of the most pristine, frozen wilderness area in the country. Your instructors will help you develop the skills to stay warm and comfortable as you make fresh tracks and camp in this magical wonderland. The team of dogs will provide inspiration for you and your group as you work together to travel across the frozen lakes and rivers. Work with like-minded adventurers to learn safety techniques, winter camping skills and problem solving skills as you cook over an open fire and sleep under the stars.

No prior winter travel knowledge or experience is necessary. Your seasoned instructors and lovable huskies will guide you through each unique, awe-inspiring adventure.

Course Area

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota.
Over 10,000 years ago, continental-sized glaciers scraped their way across much of Ontario and northern Minnesota leaving deep ruts, ravines, and holes in their tracks. Eventually, as the glaciers melted, these ravines filled with water, creating a seemingly endless interconnected web of lakes and rivers.

In the winter, the BWCAW transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. While more difficult, winter enthusiasts travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country ski and snowshoe.

Winter in the Boundary Waters is mesmerizing, peaceful, and exhilarating. It is a place of spectacular extremes, trackless snow, bracing cold air, glowing warm embers, and powerful silence.

Classic Courses
No two Outward Bound expeditions are ever quite the same. Every crew is unique; every route is distinct; and every adventure is dynamic. But one thing remains the same. On each course, students rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places – and find strength and determination along the way.

  • Build core skills: Learn and practice wilderness, teamwork and leadership skills. Form a crew that supports and encourages one another, and in the thick of challenges, discover there is more in you than you know.
  • Practice Outward Bound values: Learn to incorporate Outward Bound values into everyday life by pushing your own limits and seeking challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As the course nears the end, take on more leadership and decision-making responsibilities. Work together to apply new skills and achieve team goals during this final phase of the expedition.
  • What you’ll learn: Return home a stronger, more resilient individual. Discover increased self-confidence, improved leadership, and a desire to make a difference.

Listed below are a few of the activities:

Dog Sledding and Cross Country Skiing

While on the expedition students will navigate a route over frozen lakes and rivers and travel the overland portage trails between them. Students will develop skills in backcountry skiing, managing and mushing dogs, and controlling a dogsled.

Group members will take turns mushing the sled throughout the course, but everyone will care for the dogs on a daily basis. Mushing is not a passenger sport; it is hard and rewarding work. Students spend at least two days out of every week mushing/leading the dog sled team.

Each type of terrain students encounter will require different skills and group organization. On level, smooth terrain most group members will ski or snowshoe ahead as two or three group members handle the sleds and dog teams. Skiers scout for obstacles, break trail through the snow and return to help maneuver the sleds when necessary. Over rough areas, the whole group will help to push, pull, and turn the sled.

Winter Living and Camp Set Up

With our training, students will find that they can live comfortably in cold temperatures. Students will learn how to regulate their body temperature with layers of clothing, exercise and diet.

Setting up a snug winter camp takes time, energy, and teamwork. Scouting for a sheltered bay with good firewood in the late afternoon the group quickly learns that the night comes too quickly in the great white north.

Constructing a shelter to ward off the chilling winds and erecting a room-sized tent large enough to accommodate a wood stove and a brigade of weary travelers rounds out the day–all before cooking a warm, hearty dinner over an outdoor fire or the stove.

Reflective evening conversations with fellow travelers amongst the solitude of the wintry north woods ground this extraordinary and formidable adventure. Gaze into a clear, star-filled sky as you drift off into a well deserved sleep.


Weather and time permitting, an Outward Bound Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. The duration of Solo depends on the course length and type as well as the competency and preparedness of the student group. Students on a 3-week course typically spend 2-nights on Solo while students on a 1-week course may spend one night or even just a few hours on Solo.

Regardless of Solo length, all students receive sufficient food, water, and shelter to keep them safe and healthy during Solo. Instructors choose Solo sites to offer as much solitude as possible while retaining some proximity to the whole group. While students spend the majority of their Solo time alone, Instructors do check on each student as often as needed, usually 1-4 times per day, to ensure that each student feels safe and comfortable. Instructors work with each student individually to structure a successful, unique Solo experience that meets their specific needs. Solo is purposefully scheduled near the end of the expedition so students have plenty of time to acclimate to their new environments beforehand.

Students often have mixed feelings leading up to Solo. Inevitably, students feel some nervousness and hesitation but are also excited to rest, reflect and test their new skills after spending many days in the wilderness. Students often find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and Solo often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.

Some Outward Bound Family expeditions offer Duo experiences, rather than Solos, to allow parents and children to have a shared experience and deepen their relationships.

Personal Challenge Event

On our 15 day expeditions we end our courses with a Personal Challenge Event (PCE), which is a final individual physical challenge. Time and weather permitting, students will finish their journey with a skiing race–a non-competitive event that allows students to set their own goals and work towards them.

A final celebration back at basecamp with an authentic wood-fired sauna and “polar plunge” in the river will signal the completion of the course.

Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.

Visit the Voyageur Outward Bound School frequently asked questions page to learn more about the application process, scholarships, what to expect, how to pack and where your course begins.

Upon enrollment on a Voyageur Outward Bound School course students receive a day-by-day course itinerary, detailed packing list, and detailed arrival and departure information specific to their course.

Scholarship Info

Our Scholarship Program is guided by a single principle: Every person should be given the opportunity to experience adventure and challenge, develop character and compassion, and learn leadership skills and service ethics, regardless of financial ability.

Moreover, we bring together diverse groups of students to instill cultural understanding and teamwork skills that enable them to become principled leaders.

Thanks to generous donations from alumni, parents, corporations, foundations, and others, Outward Bound awards up to $3.7 million in scholarships to 6,000 students each year.

The Voyageur Outward Bound School scholarship program is need-based and in order to be considered, applicants must first enroll on a course, pay a $500 deposit and check a box noting that they are interested in a Scholarship. The deposit payment is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 enrollment processing fee (usually non-refundable). After the applicant enrolls, a Course Advisor will send them a Scholarship Application along with the other enrollment materials. The applicant is required to submit a copy of their most recent 1040 tax return along with the completed Scholarship Application. The average scholarship is 15-30% off of the posted fee. If the applicant receives an Outward Bound scholarship but it’s not enough for them to participate, Outward Bound will refund their $500 deposit, including the $150 enrollment processing fee.

In some cases, applicants can schedule a payment plan with the Voyageur Outward Bound School rather than paying for the whole course in one lump sum. In cases of payment plans, final balances are due at least 90 days prior to the course-start.

Packing for a Voyageur Outward Bound School course

In general, Outward Bound provides sleeping bags, sleeping mats, rain gear, and all group cooking, camping and traveling equipment. Students need to provide their own clothing, footwear, toiletries and a few other items, like a headlamp and water bottle.

Traveling to and from the Voyageur Outward Bound School

MN Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students meet in the Duluth International Airport baggage claim at 1:00 PM on the first day of the course. Students typically return to the Duluth International Airport around 11:30 AM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 1:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

TX Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students arrive in El Paso, TX the day before their course officially begins.  Students spend the night in a local hotel (not included in course-cost) as directed by their Course Advisor. Students typically return to the El Paso International Airport around 1:00 PM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 2:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

Explicit travel directions will be shared with you after you enroll on a course.  Students should refrain from making travel plans prior to being approved for their course and receiving travel details for their specific course as the exact details may differ slightly from the directions listed above.

Airlines Unaccompanied Minor service Fees

Please Note: Virtually all airlines, except United and Southwest, require that travelers age 14 or younger flying without a companion over the age of 18 pay for their Unaccompanied Minor service. This fee ranges anywhere from $40 to $75 each way. In most cases, the Unaccompanied Minor service is OPTIONAL for travelers between the ages of 15-17.
Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.

Dog Sledding & Cross Country Skiing – 8 Day

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
12.28.16 – 1.4.17 8 16+ $2025 VMXD-621
12.28.17 – 1.4.18 8 16+ $2025 VMXD-721
Dog Sledding & Cross Country Skiing – 15 Day

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
12.27.16 – 1.10.17 15 16+ $3225 VMXD-641
12.27.17 – 1.10.18 15 16+ $3225 VMXD-741

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