When it comes to spending the winter months outside, skiing and snowboarding are the established top dogs. But if you’re looking for high-speed thrills and don’t want to spend your whole vacation on a mountain resort (and half of it in a chairlift), it’s worth taking a look at snowmobiling. Like snowshoeing, it’s a great way to explore new places, but with the added bonus of an engine.
If this is the year you decide to give it a shot, here are eight great snowmobiling trips, from Colorado to Siberia to Iceland, that even a skier would love.
There are lots of great reasons to wait for winter to visit the world’s oldest national park, and sublime snowmobiling tours are at the top of the list. Scenic Safaris offers guided tours, the best of which may be the Old Faithful tour. See the park’s wildlife (undeterred by low temperatures and snowfall) as well as geysers, including the famous Old Faithful.
From Quebec City, head up the St. Lawrence River and take your choice of three great tours. You can head east and loop around the Gaspé Peninsula, home to four national parks and six wildlife sanctuaries.
Or you can follow the coastline west on the White Trail for breathtaking views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. My personal pick would be the St. Lawrence Tour, which covers both banks of the river and includes a ride over an ice bridge that links the mainland and the island of l’Isle Verte.
Cruises around Alaska seem to be all the rage these days, but keeping to the coast deprives you of some of the state’s best sights. The Deep Snow in Valdez expedition, run by Alaska Snow Safaris, will take you deep into the Chugach Mountains.
Get ready to see wildlife including wolverines, eagles and moose, and don’t expect to come across snowmobile tracks; these tours are all about going off the beaten path.
Back in the continental United States, you can head just about anywhere in Maine for great snowmobiling. The state offers more than 14,500 miles of interconnected trails and 292 snowmobile clubs.
To see some great riding and test your own skills, head to the annual International Snowmobile Festival in Madawaska, on the Canadian border, for three days of snowcross races, moonlight riding and great trails.
It follows that the state that’s home to the Rocky Mountains would have some great snowmobiling. Most of the major ski and snowboard resorts offer snowmobiling packages, and Breckenridge’s stands out. The High Adventure Tour isn’t meant for beginners; it covers challenging terrain at 12,500 feet or more above sea level.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad may be the most famous way to cross Russia’s enormous tundra, but snowmobiling is the better mode of transport for getting up close and personal with nature. Explore the coast of Lake Baikal, famous for its beauty with a knowledgeable guide. By March, you can even head out onto the frozen lake.
Even though mainland Michiganians poke fun at them, their northern brethren have the “upper” hand when it comes to snowmobiling real estate. Because the sport is so pervasive, it’s best to choose an area to visit and then find the trail or area that you find the most appealing.
If you really don’t know where to start, try Chippewa County, tucked in between Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron.
What country has a more fitting name for a great winter vacation than Iceland? Snowmobiling is a year-round sport here, but winter is still the better choice, when there’s more snow on the ground and the glaciers are at their icy best.
The Winter Kingdom Tour, hosted by Arctic Adventures, takes you for a full day of tough riding in the Icelandic highlands with an expert guide. Each trip is customized based on current weather conditions, so you’re sure to get a unique view of the Langjökull glacier.
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