• Welcome to Ely

    Friday, February 23

    In Ely, Minnesota, winter is more than just a season – it is a snow packed play land. Located on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Ely boasts a wide variety of things to do, which is why visitors come back again and again. Photo opportunities are endless around Ely, especially in winter when the snow highlights the landscape and tree limbs wear winter caps. Locals and visitors alike take advantage of the snow and frozen lakes by skiing or snowshoeing to places that are not normally accessible. Many winter outfitters carry equipment and winter gear to cover any need. For visitors that come to watch the race, why not have your own dog sled experience? There are many area dog sled operators that offer day trips of varying length.

    Our downtown is very special as well, with many locally-owned galleries and shops filled with artwork, outdoor gear, toys, clothing, jewelry and Northwoods’ gifts. Our dining scene is like no other with steakhouses, brewpubs, coffee houses and bakeries serving up food to delight almost any palette, whether you want to grab a sandwich, indulge in a scone (or two), sample a wild rice dish, or enjoy Italian, Mexican, Infusion and more.

  • Vet Checks - Feb 24 10am-3pm

    February 24 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
    Vermilion Community College – 1900 E Camp St.
    One of our great sponsors and longtime supporter of the race, the Ely Veterinary Clinic will once again be on hand at Vermilion Community College parking lot to perform the pre-race veterinary exam. Every team must have this mandatory exam to ensure the dogs are in good health to run the race. The Veterinarian staff’s work does not stop with the pre-race checks as they are on hand at the start and finish to check on the dogs and are available throughout the race and ready to head out on the trail if needed.

    For spectators, this is a great opportunity to see every dog—over 300 will be there throughout the day. You can also talk with the mushers, who love to share their passion for their dogs and the sport. Remember though, they may be busy – getting a team ready takes a lot of time and they may not be able to talk. Be careful where you walk – there may be chains, sleds and other equipment that pose a tripping hazard. Sled dogs are beautiful animals and as a rule are friendly and great with kids. However, you should not pet one without first checking with the musher.

    The Vermilion Community College Wilderness Club will be selling hot drinks and food in the west wing of the building. This is an exciting day in which you can catch the energy of the dogs and pick your favorite team to cheer for on Sunday. Bundle up the family, bring you camera and come for the day.

    You know we love dogs, but it is better to leave yours at home so everyone can enjoy the event without incident.

  • Musher's Dinner

    Musher Dinner details to be announced.

  • Race Start

    Sunday, February 25 starting at 7:00 am
    Ely Soft Ball Complex – Old Airport Rd and Hwy 1, Ely, MN

    On race day, spectators have another opportunity to mingle with the mushers and watch them prepare for the race. At 7:00 a.m., the mushers and teams will be in the parking area across the road from the starting line, preparing equipment, themselves, and the dogs that are eager to get on the trail. It is truly a great experience and a chance to get a “behind the scenes” look at the equipment that is used and see how the dogs are prepared. Please be careful of all the gang lines and equipment and stand back to give the dogs space so the mushers can get them ready to run the race.

    At 9:00 a.m., the first of the 8-dog teams leaves the race chute for a 50 mile journey through the beautiful and majestic Superior National Forest. You will be amazed at the organization of the race as teams are brought into the start area. The teams are stage for the race in three steps. In the hole is the first spot the teams are moved into, on deck is the next and finally they are led to the starting line. They leave in two minute intervals. The 8-dog race course begins on the Taconite Trail, winds through the forest and then connects to the Bear Head Trail and Fishing Lakes Trail and back onto the Taconite Trail, which brings the teams back to Ely for the finish. The trail time depends on the teams entered, weather conditions and trail conditions. We anticipate the first team to cross the Ely finish line around 1:30 p.m.

    After the last 8-dog team leaves the gate, there will be a ten minute break before the first 6-dog team heads out on the trail for a 30 mile trek through the wild and beautiful boreal forest. They also leave at two minute intervals and travel along the Taconite Trail, loops around Purvis Road back to the Taconite State Trail then heads east to finish in Ely (approximately 30 miles).  The first team will finish at approximately 12:30 p.m.

    Spectators should stand back from the starting line so as not to distract the dogs. Please cooperate with race officials as they are there to help the mushers and keep everyone safe.

    As in all sports, it is nice to hear someone cheer you on. We welcome you to the starting line to see how eager the dogs are to get on the trail and to cheer on your favorite team as it heads down the chute and onto the trail.

  • During the Race

    There are several vantage points along the trail for the public to watch the mushers as they cross roads. This is a great opportunity for photos! Lead dogs are as much as 24-30 feet ahead of the musher and since the tree line is close to the road, the mushers may not be able to see on-coming traffic. Road crossing guards, called Guardian Angels, are stationed at each road crossing to protect the dogs and mushers. Road crossing guards keep an eye out for the team and stop traffic to allow the teams to safely cross. In some cases, additional road crossing guards are on hand to form a line so the dogs will not mistake a road as another trail and make a wrong turn. Spectators may be asked to help form the line – if you are asked, please follow the directions given by the road guards – we don’t want the dogs distracted or anyone to get hurt.

    The Grand Ely Lodge is our host for the day. Stop by the banquet room to warm up and check the race progress as you enjoy hot coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger. Grab a bite to eat, cheer on your team and get ready to greet the mushers as they arrive for the awards ceremony.

  • Sunday February 25th, after all 6 dog and 8 dog teams cross the finish line.

    Grand Ely Lodge – 400 N. Pioneer Rd., Ely, MN
    Join us at the banquet room at the Grand Ely Lodge as we recognize the Titans of the Trail. In honor of our special guests, Grand Ely Lodge will serve up a special menu. Your palate will be delighted with entrees such as a “Mush”room Swiss Burger, Chilly Dogs, Husky Wings, Wolf Track Classic salad and more.

    The awards ceremony starts soon after the last team crosses the finish line. It is fun to share in the excitement as the purses are awarded to the top mushers and to hear the great stories as all the drivers compare notes from the day’s race and other races in which they compete. It is your last chance to get up close and personal with the stars of the day.