Weekend Window: Ely, Minn.

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The silence of the outdoors in Ely, Minn. is broken only by the pitter-patter of dog paws making pathways through the snow.

"Ely has more dogsled operators than any town in the world," said Wintergreen Dog Sledding Lodge owner Paul Schurke. "Ely, Minn. takes great pride in declaring itself the end of the road in Minnesota. And of course, what's beyond us is a wonderful wilderness area that is our playground."

Dog sledding is a large part of what makes the remote destination a winter attraction.

"The dogs are the glue that holds it all together to make the winter so much fun," Schurke said. "They are absolutely built to pull. They love to pull. They live to pull."

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Many tourists see the snow-covered area as an ideal place for family recreation.

"This is nicest place I could ever think of to take a family sledding," said Kristy King. "We came up here to camp for a week and learn to dogsled; enjoy nature, and to be together."

"It's this incredible sense of well-being you get when you're gliding thru the snow and there's the hiss of the snow on the runners," King said. "One of the neatest things about this trip is that you're creating your own roads out here."

King said Ely is magical and allows visitors to reach the destination they have in mind.

But, it's not just the people who enjoy the activity. The animals love it, too.

"It just energizes everyone," Schurke said. "We cut the teams loose and then it's just this silence, except for the sound of clicking dog paws on ice and the sounds of dangling chains and harnesses, and just this glistening snowscape … and suddenly all's right with the world."

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