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Rosemary Freskos

Snowmobiling - Have Fun in the Snow this Winter!
by:
Rosemary Freskos

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The secret is finally out: Snowmobiling is one of the most exciting ways to experience America's snow-lined back-country, in winter. Unlike other snowsports, this one can be quickly learned and doesn’t require a lot of physical stamina. Two people can comfortable ride one machine, so children or sightseers can be taken along on many trips. Driving one of today's light, nimble snowmobiles is a cross between riding a motorcycle, driving a car, and steering a sled with handlebars, except that you control the speed at all times.

An extensive network of marked and often groomed trails throughout the United States and Canada means that the average rider can explore hundreds of thousands of acres of spectacular territory too remote to be easily reached by any other means. You can snowmobile wherever snow and terrain permit, and there are trails for every ability, from groomed, level tracks for beginners, rolling terrain for intermediates, to thrilling steeps and deep powder, the advanced rider's equivalent of wilderness skiing. No wonder snowmobiling is a popular sport in the snowbelt of North America. The mountainous western states, Canada, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Alaska, all offer a variety of places to enjoy the sport, including ski areas, golf courses and national parks as well as wilderness areas.

Day trips give you just a taste of the fun to be had but don't offer nearly enough time to really explore the wilderness and the fun of conquering hilltops, and carving rooster tails in meadows of fresh powder. Snowmobile tours ranging in length from a weekend to a week or longer; can change a boring vacation into and exciting adventure where outfitters take care of all the arrangements giving you time to relax and enjoy the scene.

Trips can be pampered or rugged; either camping out or stays in a comfortable inn, hearty campfire cooking or elegant feasts. Rides might run at a relaxed pace of about l00 miles a day hit ting top speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour, with time for photography and exploration, or they could be hauls of up to 200 miles a day with speeds topping 50 miles per hour. Snowmobile tours are definitely the best way to get into the sport, and prices generally run a reasonable $100 to $200 per person per day, including lodging, meals, clothing rental, and a guide. Late winter trips have the advantage of longer daylight and sometimes, warmer temperatures, than those in December and January.

Although there’s not as great a choice of tour operators for snowmobiling as for more popular pursuits like bicycling, skiing or sailing, you have to be careful to check them out before signing up then being surprised by what you get.

Questions to ask before signing up for a snowmobile tour: Questions to ask before signing up for a snowmobile tour:

  • How long has the operator been in business?

    • There’s no substitute for experience.

  • Is the guide qualified to make vehicle repairs on the tour and, if out in the wilderness, able to administer CPR and first aid in medical emergencies?

  • How many people will be on the tour?

    • Five to ten riders of similar abilities is best.

  • What’s the daily mileage and speed, and kind of terrain covered?

    • Don’t get into the wrong ability group by over (or under) estimating your capabilities.

  • And, most important, what exactly is covered in the total price...

    • For lodging, most operators use moderate accommodations; meals are not fancy, meat and potatoes, chicken and salad are the rule. Tour prices may include vehicles and fuel, helmets, snowsuits, insulated boots and gloves. Ask who pays for any repairs and what damage you’re liable for in event of an accident. If your homeowner’s policy isn’t adequate, some operator’s offer an optional policy for $10 to $15 a day with a deductible of $250 to $300. If there’s no snow will refunds or allowances be made?

On long-distance or lodge-to-lodge trips a support vehicle should accompany the tour. It will carry luggage, parts and supplies, as well as snowmobilers who decide not to ride for a portion of the trip.

Don’t wait too long to book a trip, especially for holidays and to popular destinations. Six month advance reservations are suggested for the following tours.

Alaska - For experience snowmobilers, nothing can match the frontier adventure of Alaska’s wilderness. Traversing Valdez Glaciers and ice fields is part of a tour beginning in Anchorage with the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. Limited to groups of 10 with 2 guides. Nine days in March, $1,845, Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803.

California - The Lake Tahoe area is among the world’s most scenic and beautiful places to visit especially in winter when it’s less crowded. The terrain can be very rugged but one of the area’s few outfitters has tours covering 175 miles of the state’s best groomed trails. Day trips and over- night stops in old mining towns are offered. 2 days, $350, Eagle Ridge Snowmobile Outfitters, Box 1677, Truckee, CA 96160, phone: 916-747-1902.

Canada - One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included). Canada - One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included). Canada - One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included). Canada - One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included). Canada - One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included). Canada - One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included). Canada - One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included). One of the best ways to experience the deep snow country of Ontario is via the Snow Train to the town of Hearst, surrounded by hundreds of miles of groomed trails. Here you ride a sled through town from lodging to trails and old logging roads. Tours from the states are offered by Senior World Tours (see above) and International Snowmobile Tours, Inc. 427 Sycamore, Chesterfield, IN 46017, Phone: 800-378-8687 or 317-378-5074. 6 days, about $675 (no meals or snowmobiles included).

Colorado - Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306. Colorado - Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306. Colorado - Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306. Colorado - Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306. Colorado - Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306. Colorado - Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306. Colorado - Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306. Most of the large ski resorts have rentals and trails for day trips. American Wilderness Experience is one of the few outfitters in the state offering multi-day tours. Their four-day snowmobile safari based at The Inn at Steamboat Lake is suited to beginners as well as experienced riders. Offered from December to March, it costs about $900 all inclusive. Phone: 800-444-0099 or 303-444-2622 or write: American Wilderness Experience, Box 1486, Boulder, CO 80306.

UTAH - Home of legendary powder, world class resorts, and host to the 2002
Winter Olympic games. For variety of winter sports this state ranks with
the best, A 45-minute drive on a super highway from Salt Lake City, there's
so many mountain recreation choices that even business travellers can easily
fit in a day's snow play. The Park City area with it's three major ski
areas, is a classic western ski town offering lodging and dining to fit any
and all budgets.

High Country Snowmobile Tours, the largest in Utah, is conveniently located
right in town and next to Deer Valley. They offer rentals by the hour as
well as 1/2 and full day tours through mountain top vistas, groomed trails
and lots of meadows for open play. Individuals or groups can customize a
tour to their preferences of locations and duration. Meals are delivered
trailside for lunch tours and dinner tours include dining at deluxe lodges.
Phone: 888-404-7669 or 435-645-7533 or http://www.travel-watch.com/highcountry

Montana and Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701. Montana and Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701. Montana and Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701. Montana and Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701. Montana and Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701. Montana and Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701. Montana and Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701. Wyoming - share the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Yellowstone National Park, East and West entrances. In winter, when up to twelve feet of snow falls annually, the town of West Yellowstone bustles with the sledding crowd. The best way to get around town is in a sled. Everyone rents them and dozens of motels and restaurants cater to these enthusiasts. Just outside of town, 440 miles of groomed trails are shared with moose, elk and an occasional bison. Old Faithful, and 10,000 other thermals, cast clouds of steam as you ride. These two states offer the greatest concentration of groomed trails, powder fields and snowmobile activities to be found anywhere in North American. Some good choices in the area are: The 5 - 6 day packages (about $800), at Stage Coach Inn, 209 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone, MT 59758, Phone: 800- 842-2882 or 406-646-7381. The 6 - 8 day tours (about $1,280 - $1,860) from Senior World Tours, 3701 Buttrick Road. SE, Ada, MI 49301, Phone: 800-676-5803. The 3 and 5 day packages offered at the rustic resort at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, 50 miles west of Cody WY. The Pahaska Tepee, a national historic landmark lodge built in 1905 by Buffalo Bill Cody, is surrounded by small guest cabins. Cost: about $500 - $850, Pahaska Tepee Resort 183-R Yellowstone Highway, Cody, WY 82414, Phone: 800-628-7791 or 307-527-7701.

However, some of the best areas for riding don't have organized tours. To visit them, contact snowmobile associations. state tourism boards, local chambers of commerce, and regional and local national park and forest offices for lists of lodges with rental equipment and areas with extensive snowmobile trails. The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, 271 Woodland Pass, Suite 220, East Lansing, MI 48823, Phone 517-332-1760; offers general information and publishes a trail map directory to 20 states and 8 Canadian provinces. There are also a number of periodicals and magazines that cover every aspect from equipment to vacation destinations. Some rental services send you off with only detailed trail maps, but others can furnish a group guide for $100 to $150 per dav. Depending on the area and number of outfitters, average snowmobile rental fees range from $65 to $100 for single riders, from $80 to $125 for doubles, as sleds that can hold a pair of riders are called. If you have a choice of machine, opt for more power at higher altitudes, because the engine's performance is hampered by the thinner air of the mountains. A deposit of $70 to $200 is usually required.

Comments? Email: Rosemary Freskos 

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