What: The UP200 Sled Dog Race
When: Race Dates: 2/16 – 2/20/2
Where: Race begins Friday night, 2/17, at downtown Marquette at Washington and Fourth Streets and finishes at the Ojibwa Casino
Experience the UP200 Sled Dog Race
The UP200 Sled Dog Race is one of the top winter events in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and a definite must on any winter Michigan bucket list.
This exciting race begins February 16 – 20 in Marquette, Michigan, and the trail continues the some of the most picturesque landscape in the UP: the Lake Superior coastline, Hiawatha National Forest, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Grand Marais and back.
Excitement of the UP200 Sled Dog Race
For four days, eager dogs bark and howl with excitement, while their mushers direct them to the finish
line through the night. All eyes are on them, as months of preparation lead to this final moment.
Crowds in the thousands, bare the below-zero February temps of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With smiles, cheers, a thermos filled with hot cocoa, or perhaps something a little stronger while enduring the cold temps of the Upper Peninsula on Marquette’s Washington Street for one of America’s premier 12-dog, mid-distance sled dog races: the UP 200 Sled Dog race.
Read on to discover even more about the annual UP 200 Sled Dog Race. You can find viewing areas at the bottom of this article.
About the UP200 Sled Dog Race
Every year, The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association puts on the UP200, a 228-mile dog sled race from Marquette to Grand Marais, with a return to Marquette.
The terrain is as wild as wild gets.
Mushers from around the United States and Canada compete in this mid-distance race, mushing through the vast wilderness of Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, where mushers race along Lake Superior; through hills and valleys of the central Upper Peninsula, crossing frozen over creeks in the U.P.’s wilderness, hoping to qualify for the world-famous sled dog race- The Iditarod,a 1,100-mile race through Alaska’s wilderness.
Spectators can watch the mushers and their dog sled teams cross the finish line and
watch the top 15 mushers collect their prizes on the podium on Washington Street.
UP200 Sled Dog Race Prizes
The cash prizes for the UP200 finishers are $8,700 for first place, $7,000 for second place,
$5,500 for third place, $3,800 for the fourth place finisher, $2,750 for fifth place, with the
prize baskets getting lower the lower a musher finishes. With the smallest cash prize at
$600 for 15th place.
The Midnight Run and the Jack Pine Sled Dog Races
Along with the UP200, there are two other races during the race weekend- The Midnight Run, a 46-mile 8-dog race, and The Jack Pine, which is a 26-mile 6-dog race.
Midnight Run Sled Dog Race
The Midnight Run starts in downtown Marquette with a checkpoint in Chatham, where mushers and their dog sled teams have a mandatory 5.5-hour layover at Michigan State University’s Experimental Farm for a little rest and recovery before heading for the finish line at the Ojibwa Casino on M-28 east of Harvey.
Jack Pine Sled Dog Race
The Jack Pine starts and finishes at the First Baptist Church in Gwinn, a quaint Upper Peninsula town located just 21.3 miles south of Marquette. At the finish line at First Baptist Church, spectators can meet mushers and their dog sled teams as they collect their trophies and cash prizes.
UP200 Sled Dog Race Competitors
The 6-time champion, and last year’s UP200 champion Ryan Anderson, a Wisconsin native will once again be competing for the UP200 title, as he and his sled dog team prepare for their proceeding dog sled race- the 2023 Iditarod.
Ed and Tasha Stielstra of Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Racing and Adventures, of McMillian, Michigan, will also be competing in the UP200. The team at Nature’s Kennel has a long history of competing in sled dog races in the lower 48, Canada, not to mention Alaska’s Iditarod and the Yukon Quest sled dog race.
The Yukon Quest is a grueling 1,000-mile dog sled race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse. The Yukon Quest is arguably the dog sled race of the mushing world.
In the Yukon Quest, mushers from around North America test their mental toughness through the Arctic Circle in the Last Frontier’s grueling an inhospitable terrain, bearing sub-arctic temperatures for
weeks at a time.
Try Your Own Sled Dog Ride
The folks at Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Racing and Adventures provide both day trips and overnight excursions in the Upper Peninsula.
The dog sledding guides at Nature’s Kennel are extremely professional and their dogs are no exception. Not to mention their dog teams are extremely friendly; their friendliness makes for an awesome experience that the whole family will enjoy.
Who knows? It might be fun to get behind a dog sled team after being a spectator.
More Things to Do at the UP200 Sled Dog Race
Along Washington Street, where the finish line for the UP200 lies; spectators can warm- up and pop in the many local shops and restaurants that call Marquette home.
Shopping in Marquette
Whether you’re looking for a gift shop or a boutique, Washington Street has plenty of options. Here are a few worth checking out:
- The Gathered Earth, 131 W Washington St, Marquette, MI 49855
- Boomerang Retro and Relics, 100 W Washington St, Marquette, MI 49855
- Yooper Casual, 110 W Washington St, Marquette, MI 49855
- The Gallery, 130 W Washington St, Marquette, MI 49855
Where to Eat in Marquette
Washington Street is also home to restaurants that the entire family will enjoy.
The Delft Bistro is never a bad idea. The Portside Inn, Iron Bay Restaurant & Drinkery, Steinhaus,
and Third Coast Pizzeria, are all establishments that you can’t go wrong with.
If you’re venturing off Washington Street, head to BlackRock’s Brewery to warm up with
a craft brew and live music.
Third Street is also home to several phenomenal eateries such as Third Street Bagel, Vangos, and Stucko’s Pub Grill.
Even More to Do at the UP200 Sled Dog Race
Before or after the UP200, be sure to venture off to Marquette’s lower harbor boardwalk along Lake Superior, where you’ll see the historic ore dock and the frozen waters of Lake Superior. Finishing off your UP200 race weekend extravaganza, warm up at the Ore Dock Brewery for craft beers, live music, perhaps a game of chess, mancala, or even billiards.
The UP 200 race weekend is one that the whole family will enjoy; a U.P. tradition you
don’t want to miss.
UP200 Sled Dog Race Viewing Areas
- Race Start Point in downtown Marquette on Washington Street at the corner of 4th Street.
- Welcome Center in Harvey
- Prince of Peace Church
- Lakenenland Sculpture Park
- Rock River Road in Chatham
- Forest Lake Road at the Au Train Basin Dam (Forest Lake)
- Rapid River Truck Trail, approximately 1/4 mile off M-94 to road crossing
- Federal Forest Hwy 13, Wetmore
- Wetmore at M-28 by Hiawatha Log Homes
About the Author-
Ryan McChesney is a contributing writer for My Michigan Beach focusing on outdoor adventure in the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan. A Traverse City native and avid photographer, McChesney now resides in the Upper Peninsula where he skis and hikes with his amazing dog Dwight.