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Snowmobiling in Winter Park

Get your snowmobile runnin’

By Michelle Post; photo by Terri Wiebold

Snowmobiling is a terrific sport to enjoy the Colorado great outdoors. Travel with friends, dress appropriately, be prepared and ride responsibly. Be sure to capture the memories with lots of fun pictures.

“Get your snowmobile runnin’” are not words I ever heard growing up in Crowley, Texas. I lived in a small rural city and remember only a few winters where we received enough snow to cancel school. We received more ice storms than snow storms. That is not the case for my husband though. My husband is from Michigan and grew up running snowmobiles every winter. So, when we moved to Colorado, it was only natural we headed out into the mountains, lookin’ for adventure, and we found plenty of adventure in Winter Park, Colorado.

And what an adventure we had. We have made several trips back to Winter Park for snowmobiling, but it is the first for me that I will always remember. We rented a two-seater snowmobile for our first adventure, and I am glad we did. Holding down the thumb throttle can tire your hand fast. Because of my husband’s experience with snowmobiles, we chose the self-guided tour, but I highly recommend if you are new to snowmobiling, take the guided tour.

My husband was first to drive, as I held on for a grand adventure. We twisted and turned our way up the Continental Divide Trail experiencing the blistering wind in our faces but loving every minute of it. My husband would drive for about 30 minutes, and then I would drive. What an adventure we had as we made our way to the summit where we stopped, had a bite to eat, and gazed at the beauty all around us. Then it was time to head back down, reversing the route we just came up. To ensure you have a memorable experience on your first or 100th snowmobiling trip, review these tips below:

Top tips to ensure a grand adventure:

1. Check the machine – always do a pre-check of the machine, even a rental.
2. Respect the machine – don’t bully the machine, work with it. It is more powerful than you, trust me!
3. Bigger is not always better – too much power can leave you in the snow.
4. Know the rules of the trail and basic trail etiquette – what side do you ride on, what are the hand signals to know.
5. Look ahead on the trail – be looking ahead and be aware of your surroundings.
6. Expect the unexpected – you are in the wilderness, look for wildlife, watch the weather.
7. Ride loose – be mindful of your body and its tenseness and lean with the machine.
8. Ride within your skill level – don’t prove yourself the first time.
9. Dress for the conditions – this is critical, ensure you have the right clothes to keep you warm. Layer. Layer. Layer.
10. Bring an emergency pack – for water, snacks, trail map, first aid kit, and the 10 essentials (www.mountaineers.org/blog/what-are-the-ten-essentials).
11. Drink plenty of water – at high elevations our bodies dehydrate faster and it is important to stay hydrated.
12. Carry a phone or personal locater, preferably something with GPS.
13. Ride with a buddy – never ride alone if you can help it, let someone know where you will be and how long you will be riding.

And if you want a unique experience, take a guided nighttime snowmobile trip – it is magical!

Winter Park is 66 miles west of Denver. It is an easy trip along I-70 west to I-40 to Winter Park for a day of snowmobiling. Know the policies and rental requirements before making your reservations, and have yourself a great adventure!

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