When most Iowans are snuggled up in bathrobes, drinking hot coffee and trying to stay warm on a winter morning, Lyle Wendland heads out before sunrise on his Charles City farm.

Dressed in a heavy hunting jacket and snow boots, Wendland greets his crew of 15 sled dogs. The Alaskan hounds, full of energy even on the coldest days, start yipping and barking in excitement, trying to get Wendland’s attention so he’ll pick them to pull the sled.

Wendland says his favorite time to go dogsledding is before dawn, as the sun comes up over the horizon and the sky changes from winter gray to pastel pink over the snow-covered farm fields.

“Some of the mornings when you are going through the timber and...