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“A memorable, educational and heartwarming experience - a remarkable woman!”

Alaskan Tails of the Trail with Mary Shields
Ranked #2 of 71 Tours in Fairbanks
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: I invite you to visit my home, when you come to Fairbanks. I can introduce to my big , friendly huskies, (incase you need a dog- fix while you're away from your own dog) and explain what it's like out on the winter trail camping at 30 ° below zero. I will compare the camping with the routine on the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest ( I was the first woman to complete the race back in 1974, the second running.) And I will share tales of the 1,200 mile dog sled journey in Siberia, the greatest adventure I've experienced so far. Of course you'll check out the garden and go in the cabin and have some home baked refreshments, (You may have seen the cabin on the Home & Garden show) I feel so lucky to live here and I love to share my life with travelers.
Reviewed 6 October 2017

My wife and I were planning to visit Fairbanks for a few days while on our AK vacation and after reading all the tripadvisor reviews this activity was at the top of our list. According to her web site "tours" ended about 15 Sep but we weren't getting into Fairbanks until late on the 16th so I began e-mailing Mary months in advance to see if it might still be possible to meet with her during our days in Fairbanks. Mary was very accommodating and in the end we, along with 2 other couples, met with her for our 10:00 am "tour" on a Sunday, 17 Sep. Everyone parked in the driveway and we were all greeted by one of Mary's dogs (Smokey I believe) on our arrival.

During our visit Mary was in an electric wheelchair and one of her neighbors was there helping her out. The terrain around her log cabin in not particularly wheelchair friendly and on top of that it had rained some so getting around on grass in a wheelchair was challenging - but no issue at all for Mary!!

We started out in Mary's garden area where she told us all about the various plants and vegetables she raises, how the climate there dictates what is in the garden, etc.

After the garden we all went down to the pen where the dogs are kept to meet her dogs. There were about 6 adult dogs (all on chains at their doghouse) and 2 puppies about 5 weeks old. After telling us about all the dogs Mary asked if anyone was nervous around the dogs and whether we would be OK if they were let off the chains to run around some. Everyone was fine with that so the dogs were let loose and we played with the puppies and dogs, fed some dogs some treats, etc.

After some time the dogs were chained up again and we proceeded to a space between the garden and the dog pen which had a fire pit, a dog sled, a tent and some benches. We then sat down there while Mary told us some about how she came to be in AK, how she got into dog mushing, a typical routine when on the trail with dogs and making camp each day, etc.

At this point we were all welcomed into Mary's cozy log cabin where she and her friend served us hot chocolate/coffer/water or whatever and some delicious, fresh home made cookies. The 6 of us guests all sat with Mary around her dining room table and she continued to tell us about her life, her love of dogs, mushing, conservation, etc. It was just a joy to sit and listen to the stories of her life experiences, ask her questions, etc. Mary has also written several books, some of which are children's books, and she has those, along with a few other items, for sale. We have 4 grandkids so we picked out some books for them and Mary graciously agreed to sign each of them and include a personal note to the children, asking their names and the name of any dogs they might have - how thoughtful.

Mary has led a truly fascinating life and it was so incredible she would welcome us into her home like old friends and spend time telling us about her many adventures and adversities. While the "tour" was supposed to be from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm, we were there until just after 2:00 pm. Mary was more than happy to share stories of her life with us, as well as answer our questions, and made no attempt to get us out the door! Her hospitality is unparalleled!

If you are in Fairbanks there is NO activity I would recommend over a visit to meet Mary and her dogs - a truly wonderful experience that I wish our grandkids could have shared with us!!

Thank MT1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mary S, Owner at Alaskan Tails of the Trail with Mary Shields, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2017

Thank you for the enjoyable fall time visit, there is now a dusting of snow. My dear puppies are growing so fast as are the nights with aurora that dazzles. Hope you can return again in the future. Mary

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Reviews (480)
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"snails"
in 52 reviews
"kitchen table"
in 22 reviews
"amazing woman"
in 18 reviews
"sled dogs"
in 69 reviews
"log cabin"
in 27 reviews
"children's books"
in 12 reviews
"brownie"
in 30 reviews
"big boy"
in 8 reviews
"life story"
in 9 reviews
"sod roof"
in 5 reviews
"fascinating stories"
in 7 reviews
"cookies"
in 33 reviews
"lovely home"
in 6 reviews
"yukon quest"
in 25 reviews
"iditarod race"
in 14 reviews
"living legend"
in 6 reviews
"personal visit"
in 5 reviews
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58 - 62 of 481 reviews

Reviewed 24 September 2017

What a pleasant visit with Mary, and her dogs, first outside, then up to her lovely home to talk about Alaska and dog sleding while sipping on some tea and tasting cranberry bread. The visit went over what it was scheduled for, but there was no hurry to leave.
John & Lori Mercer Island, Wash.

Review collected in partnership with this attraction
Thank R3093QOjohne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mary S, Owner at Alaskan Tails of the Trail with Mary Shields, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2017

Thank you for sharing a wonderful fall morning on my tour. I hope you'll join me again some time. Mary

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Reviewed 22 September 2017

We were treated as valued guests in Mary's home. The pace was thoughtful, we moved from one setting to another - the garden to the dog yard to the campfire to her kitchen - and it was all seamless and natural. The mood was friendly and open; and the information, stories, and reflections just priceless. Mary is an inspirational person -- as a young musher and as an older person. She also knows dogs in ways visitors will find fascinating. It's hard to emphasize what an essential Alaska experience this is. I hope everyone who has the chance goes to visit Mary Shields and her wonderful dogs.

1  Thank jwilberg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mary S, Owner at Alaskan Tails of the Trail with Mary Shields, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2017

Thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed sharing this fall time together. Mary

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Reviewed 20 September 2017

Our family group of 12 adults from both the East and West coasts started our vacation in Alaska with our visit to Tails of the Trail. It could not have been a better start. While certainly the opportunity to directly interact with Mary's dogs (and puppies!) was a highlight, it was having time sharing Mary's story that was very special. She makes her home so warm and accessible. It is not just the story of her experience in the Iditarod, which is amazing, but how she came to Alaska as a young woman, her courage, and her life's work caring for the wilderness. We didn't have any young children with us, but we all agreed this would be a very special experience for our children and grandchildren.

Review collected in partnership with this attraction
1  Thank Steve D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mary S, Owner at Alaskan Tails of the Trail with Mary Shields, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2017

Thank you for bringing your wonderful family together for fall time with my puppies who are now getting so big and sharing a wonderful day, and the beginning of your Alaska trip. Happy Trails, Mary

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Reviewed 17 September 2017

We were a group of 12, six couples staying 2 nights in Fairbanks the beginning of September (we stayed at the fun Aurora Express B & B in Fairbanks). Our one free day we visited with Mary Shields in the morning and did the Riverboat Discovery in the afternoon. Mary was so thoughtful about wanting to make sure our visit was tailored to what our group wanted. Spending time with the puppies and her other dogs was great and sitting around her kitchen table with mugs of coffee and fresh baked cookies and hearing her stories was just perfect. She made us feel at home and like fast friends and seemed very sad when we had to leave! She is an inspirational, adventurous, brave woman!

Thank LoveToTravel524
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mary S, Owner at Alaskan Tails of the Trail with Mary Shields, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2017

Thank you for coming to visit and I am glad to have met such a wonderful group of friends. Happy Trails, Mary

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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