Sled dog rides, teacher training, classroom connections planned for 2023 Idaho Sled Dog Challenge

MCCALL, Idaho (Dec. 21, 2022) -- New experiences are among the many highlights planned for the 2023 Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, which is staged annually throughout Valley and Adams counties in West Central Idaho in late January.

Race organizers are bringing back the ceremonial start, which will take place at the McCall Activity Barn along with the meet the mushers event and vet checks Jan. 29, the day before the 300-mile and 100-mile race starts.

The Activity Barn is grooming several miles of trail for the event, and race organizers are auctioning off sled dog rides with mushers competing in the races.

Race organizers are also auctioning off what's billed as the adventure of a lifetime -- a private 2023 Iditarod tour package for two. The bidding starts at $4,500 and ends Feb. 1 at midnight.

The winning bidder and one guest will experience the finish of the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, dubbed the Last Great Race on Earth. They will fly out on the Iditarod trail, visit checkpoints, take in Alaska's vast beauty, and experience Alaskan culture, according to Idaho Sled Dog Challenge founder Jerry Wortley, who also serves as an Iditarod Air Force pilot.

The Idaho Sled Dog Challenge is one of only three 300-mile Iditarod qualifiers in the lower 48 and the only such event for the Yukon Quest in the contiguous continental U.S. The Iditarod and the Yukon Quest are considered the longest and the toughest sled dog races in the world.

The Iditarod tour package includes:

  • Two nights' lodging at Nome's Aurora Inn.
  • VIP section at the famous Burled Arch Finish Line.
  • Behind-the-scenes tour of the race's inner workings.
  • Meeting and insider's update with the Iditarod race marshal.
  • Hosted breakfast and dinner.
  • Ski plane flight and local tour following the trail to the White Mountain Checkpoint 74 miles from the finish. The group will likely spot muskox along the way.
  • Observe mushers taking loving care of their teams and veterinarians checking the health of the dogs.
  • Experience the wild excitement as teams leave White Mountain on the last leg of the 1,000-mile trail to Nome.
  • Behind-the-scenes tour of the White Mountain Checkpoint.
  • There may be an opportunity to fly a dog or two back to Nome.
  • Land at the checkpoint in Safety if conditions allow.
  • Sled dog tour with the Nome Kennel Club.

Visit and click on the auction tab to bid on the auctions.


The Idaho Sled Dog Challenge is also working with the Iditarod Education Department to bring the race into Gem State classrooms. They will host the new Spirit Unleashed 101 training course for educators on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. MST / 4 p.m. AK via Zoom.

The workshop will immerse educators in the world of sled dog racing, providing an overview of:

  • The history of and mission of Iditarod EDU.
  • Iditarod's Teacher on the Trail(tm) program history, purpose, and how to apply.
  • Free education resources available on the Iditarod website.
  • Connections between the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge and Iditarod and suggested lessons.
  • Upcoming conference opportunities.

Participants will receive free resources that align with their curriculum to engage learners, including connections between the Iditarod and Idaho Sled Dog Challenge races so students can match their learning to local events. This workshop will also prepare participants for an Iditarod-Idaho Sled Dog Challenge course the University of Idaho will offer in fall 2023 that provides professional development credits.

The course costs $25. Educators interested in attending must register at by Jan. 9.


Other changes in store for the fifth annual Idaho Sled Dog Challenge include:

  • A Meet Mushers Laurie and Trevor Warren event will be held Jan. 21 from 2-4 p.m. at the Ponderosa Center Ludwig Terrace in McCall.
  • A new two-day, 26-mile Warm Lake Stage Race is planned for mushers new to the sport or running new sled dog teams Jan. 25-26 that starts and finishes at North Shore Lodge & Resort at Warm Lake.
  • Unlike previous years, the 300-mile and 100-mile race starts will take place on the same day -- Jan. 30 -- at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. Like last year, the races will start at the Lake Cascade State Park Boat Ramp.

More details about the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, shuttle service from the parking lot to the race starts, and the final slate of mushers will be announced in early January. Meanwhile, please visit for more information.

The race is seeking volunteers to help with everything from handling dogs to managing parking, setting up and staffing checkpoints, providing food, operating ham radios, putting up fencing, moving straw bales, and assisting at the start and finish lines. Visit for a list of available positions and to sign up.

More than 30 sponsors are contributing to making the 2023 race a success.

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