It’s not uncommon to feel trapped in your house during the long winter months. You can only bake so many cookies. Too fattening. Driving through gray, slushy streets doesn’t do much to boost your mood, either. Too dismal. But dashing through pristine snow in the crisp, clear mountain air? Just right. This is your year to break out and try snowmobiling in Utah.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sledder, everyone should think safety first. You don’t want to break anything, after all.
Always wear a helmet. It’s required for all riders under age 18, but everyone should wear one. Always.
Never ride alone. Bring a friend along to help out if there’s a problem.
Ride on the right side. Just like driving, there are rules of the road. Stay to the right of the trail.
Don’t follow too closely. Tailgating is never cool. Be courteous.
Always use headlights. A lot of snow will be flying. Be sure you’re visible, even during the day.
Know the rules. Learn about Utah snowmobile laws, so you don’t act like a noob.
It’s also a good idea to check avalanche conditions before heading out, especially once you have more experience and aren’t sticking to groomed trails.
Is It Expensive?
New snowmobile purchase: expensive. Snowmobile rental in Utah: not too expensive.You can find snowmobile rentals for about $200-$400 per day. Each OHV drives a little differently, and renting is an affordable way to find the type that fits you best. Ask the rental business for an appropriately powered machine to fit your skill level.
Another benefit of renting is that you won’t need to transport the OHV. Many companies are located near trails, so you can head out right from the doorstep.
If you’re new to snowmobiling, we recommend going with more experienced riders for the first several outings. Better yet, take a guided tour. This way, you’ll have someone to teach you basic driving skills and keep you in safe areas. Prices vary, but most begin around $200 for a two-hour tour.
Backcountry Snowmobiling and Park City Peaks Snowmobiling both provide tours along with snowmobile rentals in Park City. In the Heber-Kamas valley, try Daniels Summit Lodge, where you can snowmobile right from your room. Tour guides will customize your adventure based on your skill level — so you won’t be getting stuck on your first time out. Cause that would kinda ruin your day.
Is It Difficult?
Snowmobiling looks easy enough: Jump on the machine, hit the throttle and you're slicing through the snow. True, driving a snowmobile isn’t difficult, but it does take some finesse and practice.
How to Drive
First, position yourself so you can comfortably reach the handlebars and place your feet on the rails. Like riding a bike, you’ll need to find your center of balance. Then, turn on the engine. In a flat area, test the throttle to figure out how much gas it needs. Too little and you’ll have a bumpy ride, too much and you could lose control. It takes a bit to figure out, and each snowmobile is unique, so don’t get discouraged.
Once you’re moving, it’s similar to a bike. Turn the handles in the direction you want to go, and lean into the sled when cornering. Avoid making sharp turns, so you don’t tip yourself over. Embarrassing.
What to Wear
If you’re already a skier, you’ll have some of the garb already, but if not you can rent it. Proper gear is essential to keep you safe — and warm. If you’re renting a snowmobile, a helmet is often included. In addition, plan to wear:
Waterproof pants (coverall bibs are preferred, unless you don’t mind snow trickling down your thermal underwear)
Helmet, if you want to wear your own
Balaclava (that fits under your helmet)
Where to Go
There are several places with trails specifically for snowmobiling in Utah, particularly beneficial for beginners — less chance of getting buried in deep powder.
In the Logan area, visit the Monte Cristo Snowmobile Complex. Trail difficulty varies there, so try the Curtis Creek/Ant Flat loop if you’re just starting out. It’s well-groomed and mostly flat, with some switchbacks and a few mild grades.
Wasatch Mountain Snowmobile Complex, near Midway, has 70 miles of well-groomed trails. In the area, Snake Creek offers an easy ride with a gradual climb. Cascade Springs is relatively wide and shallow, making it accessible for newer riders, as well.
The Scofield Snowmobile Complex, about two hours southeast of Salt Lake City, includes 120 miles of groomed trails. The Strawberry Trail is the most beginner-friendly. There’s a climb, but it’s relatively easy for most skill levels.
In Beaver County, Three Creeks/Junction Snowmobile Complex is open to snowmobilers from December through March. Kents Lake Trail is well-groomed, with a gradual climb and several twists and turns to keep it interesting.
Farther south, about an hour from Cedar City, is the Cedar Mountain Snowmobile Complex. Beginners will appreciate the mild grades on the Lars Fork Trail, and its views of Zion National Park. High Mountain Trail is wide, well-groomed and scenic, too, with views of Cedar Breaks National Monument.
There’s nothing quicker for getting you into the woods for a taste of fresh, snowy terrain than a snowmobile. Storied vistas you love in the summertime look entirely different when they’re snow covered, but no less awe-inspiring.
In fact, allow time to take a few picture-book insta pics while you’re out there. Because nothing says “I’m having more fun than you over Christmas break” than a perfectly posed shot. Especially if a bear family photo bombs you.