February 2 2011 by Julie Drossos
The cold weather is no reason to hole up indoors. In fact, one of the most fun and thrilling activities I've ever tried is one that can only be done in cold and snowy conditions! Especially great for those of you who are not skiers/boarders/snowshoers (or like me, admit to being a bit lazy come wintertime), snowmobiling is an exhilarating activity that gets your energy and excitement going but still allows you to sit back and enjoy the ride. So it's time to cure that cabin fever and get your adrenaline pumping!
Some of the best snowmobiling in the world can be found in Idaho and Montana. Below, I'll share a couple suggestions for you to consider in planning your snowmobiling adventure, as well as some general snowmobiling "Do's & Don'ts".
A snowmobiling mecca located in Northern Idaho is up in Boundary County, in the Kaniksu portion of the Panhandle National Forest, home to the Selkirk and Purcell mountains. Go to Selkirk Powder Company (located at Schweitzer Mountain Resort), where tour highlights include starting the ride over 6,000 feet up at the mountain's summit, and cruising down a sprawling 3,500 feet, taking in breathtaking terrain and views of stunning vistas. You'll also take in a lot about the area's rich history. The cost is surprisingly reasonable - $150 (plus $50 more for an additional passenger) which gets you the 2.5 hour guided ride, lift ticket, snacks and hot cocoa.
For an equally impressive but different experience, rent your snowmobile at Priest Lake Power Sports. Here you'll spend a little bit more (between $250-$400), but you get the snowmobile and also all of the necessary attire you will need to explore around the lake. There are over 400 miles of groomed trails that range from 2,500 to 6,000 feet and reaching up to see all of the Selkirk peaks. The east side of the lake carries some more advanced trails for experienced riders and daredevils - these trails are relatively ungroomed and span up to 7,000 feet.
Montana is packed full of amazing snowmobiling trails, the most famous ones are located in what many snowmobiling aficionados consider to be the best snowmobiling destination in America - West Yellowstone, which is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park and is unofficially named the "Snowmobiling Capital of the World". This area averages over 150 inches (yes, you read that right!) of white stuff each year and is a guaranteed unforgettable winter thrill ride. There you will find thousands and thousands of miles of groomed trails for more novice snowmobilers who are still getting their groove. If you're a more experienced snowboarder, you'll love the ungroomed trails that have been untouched by officials and equipment - winding trails and forests to meander through and get your heart pumping, making your way through "uncharted territory".
For affordable and comfortable accommodation during your visit there are a couple options - check out the Best Western Desert Inn, less than one mile from the west entrance to the park! This location CANNOT be beat.
Snowmobiling - Do's and Don't
- Read the signs, know the local hazards
- Wear all of the protective equipment and clothing provided
- Stay alert with your eyes ahead, don't be distracted while traveling at high speeds
- Obey all signs, if it says "Danger" or "Keep Out", do so!
- Understand all of the operational characteristics of the snowmobile
- Be respectful of other riders, especially if you are an experienced rider zooming by more novice riders. If you are novice and holding faster riders up, allow them to get by
- Obey speed limits
- Don't rush, slow down and enjoy the beautiful scenery!
- Consume alcohol or drugs before or during snowmobiling
- Be reckless or careless
- Allow more passengers than permitted on your snowmobile. Your snowmobile will likely be made for 1 or 2 people
- Get too close (behind or alongside) to other snowmobilers. Everyone needs their space!
- Operate your snowmobile in areas with bare ground or shallow snow
- Disturb, chase or scare wildlife
Where are your favorite snowmobiling destinations?