8 Great Places to Ride a Snowmobile

When experts choose the best snowmobiling destinations in America, familiar names pop up year after year, and no wonder. If the criteria includes plenty of snow, spectacular scenery and groomed trails, these destinations can’t help but make the short list of best places to enjoy the sport.

Petersville, Alaska

Snowmobiling in Alaska has everything you could want: breathtaking vistas, well-marked trails, and the temperatures are often unexpectedly moderate so the experience is pleasant. Shadowed by Mount McKinley/Denali or the impressive Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter, the views are unequaled and there are options to challenge your skills with serious mountain riding. Guides are available and along the way you’ll see an abundance of wildlife.

Mammoth Lakes, California

80 miles of groomed trails packed into 75,000 acres of open expanse here with plenty of mountain scenery and an endless horizon of untracked snow. Some of the heaviest snowfall in the western U.S. falls here, making for a thrill ride through pristine forests teeming with wildlife. Mammoth Lakes is an easy choice for a weekend adventure with gas, food, and lodgings available in the nearby town.

Seeley Lake, Montana

The Seeley Lake Driftriders Club is active in maintaining 300+ miles of groomed trails for riding pleasure, and local town businesses provide free trail maps describing 16 different main trails rated easiest to most difficult. Ride the 10-mile wide Seeley Swan Valley to the Swan Front that borders the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This area is known for hospitality to snowmobilers, with service available for snow machines and plenty of accommodations, restaurants and lounges to welcome winter enthusiasts.

Newberry, Michigan

Some of the heaviest snow accumulations in the state fall around Newberry since the extensive trail system sits in the heart of the Lake Effect snow belt. Head north out of town to see the frozen waves on the shoreline of Whitefish Point, or go west to explore the Pictured Rock area. There are over 200 miles of groomed trails that connect in an extensive network for riders of all skill sets. This area is well known as the “Moose Capital of Michigan” so expect to see some large wildlife.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Powder hounds find their heaven on the hundreds of miles of trails near Togwotee Pass along with an abundant number of open bowls and the opportunity to mix it up riding through thickly forested areas. With views of the towering Grand Tetons and great wildlife-viewing rides in the Gros Venture River area, there’s something for every rider – including a chance to take a break at the surprising Granite Creek hot spring pool fed by snowmelt from the surrounding peaks.

Northern Maine

The best trail riding experiences in the east are found in Northern Maine, from the trails near Aroostook that are really converted railroad beds to abandoned logging roads that local clubs meticulously groom for winter sport. Some 42 clubs share responsibility for maintaining over 1600 miles of trails that lead riders over rolling hills and through thick forests of native spruce and cedar. You’ll forget about the extreme cold as you traverse the powder line up and over a rise to take in views of an area that once had extensive glacial activity.

Eagle River, Wisconsin

It’s about more than cheese in Wisconsin! The state is home to the annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby on Eagle River’s ice oval, and it’s the place where snowmobiles were first built and run. Over the years the state has developed an extensive 25,000 mile trail system linking every corner. Local clubs methodically groom and mark the trail system, an effort that involves hundreds of people. Throw in beautiful scenery in all directions and you have an unbeatable snow sport destination.

West Yellowstone, Montana

Repeatedly chosen as the number one snowmobiling destination, West Yellowstone earned the reputation as “Snowmobiling Capital of the World” by having it all: powder aplenty with an annual snowfall of 150 inches, spectacular scenery that lures visitors in every season, and what’s been called a radical snow experience. It’s about the consistently excellent quality of the snow, and the fact that you can join a tour that leaves daily throughout the winter months. If the temperatures of 24 degrees or less give you pause, know that there are plenty of thrills that more than compensate for the chills.

Photo credit: Dreamstime