On an ill-fated skiing trip with his father, Frank McClean, Jesse goes over the edge of a precipice and, attempting to rescue him, his father falls to his death. With all the upheaval in his life with first his parents' divorce and then his father's death, Jesse refuses to go with his mother. Instead, he latches onto his Uncle Roy who is a ranger at the North Washington National Park.
Jesse attends the local high school and meets Lucy, the daughter of well known and wealthy rancher, John Rockwell. He also has some unpleasant moments with her brother, Clay.
While out snowboarding, Jesse runs across a wounded wolf. He fetches his uncle whose first instinct is to kill the wolf. Jesse persuades him to let it live, and to allow him to nurse the wounded wolf back to health. After many trials, Jesse and the wolf, named Silver by Jesse, become 'friends'. In the meantime, Jesse and Lucy get on well together and, in return for teaching her how to snowboard, she teaches him how to skijore - ski with a dog pulling him (or in this case, a wolf).
John Rockwell turns up to see Roy, making low threats because he dislikes the wolves as they prey on his herds, unwilling to accept that they take only what they need despite Lucy tryign to convince him otherwise too. Wanting to prove somethign to himself and the rest of the town, Jesse enters himself and Silver in a skijore competition but is initially refused because Silver is a wolf rather than a dog. However, Roy arrives and convinces the judges that the rule is not rigid.
Jesse's mother arrives before race day to talk with Jesse about their new home but Jesse is still not quite ready to listen. On the day of the race, Silver disappears while Jesse is involved in one part of the competition leaving Roy and Anna frantically searching for the wolf. They find Silver in time. However, Clay is determined that Jesse and Silver will not win and sets his dog on Jesse, only for Silver to attack him in return. Lucy wins the race but her win is overshadowed by her father's anger at Roy and Silver. Roy agrees that Silver will be sent to a zoo leaving Jesse no choice but to flee with Silver, hoping to reunite him with his pack.
John and his son take up the helicopter to find the pack and destroy them, unaware that Jesse is up in the mountains close by with Roy, Anna and Lucy searching for him. Eventually, Silver is reunited with his pack and John, having the shock of almost seeing Jesse gunned down by Clay by mistake, admits that he can try to change his views.