|Snowmobiling is as much a favorite activity in Wisconsin as eating at Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty. And while our doors are closed as the peak of the snowmobile season roars past, there are plenty of reasons to start your engines. More than 25,000 miles of trails criss cross the state of Wisconsin, with hundreds of local snowmobile clubs ensuring the trails are well marked and groomed to conditions. Stacked end to end, that’s enough trails to completely circle the globe. Hope you brought a spare gas can.
Where else can you explore thousands of miles of snow-covered forests and crystalline lakes? Winter views from mountain tops and granite bluffs as well as sun-lit valleys and drifted meadows knee-deep in Wisconsin white. If you haven’t tried snowmobiling yet, think of it as a vast system of back-country highways. Snowmobiling is a terrific way to get out in nature while spending time with friends and family. In addition you’ll meet new people and create great friendships from people around the state.
What is a Snowmobile?
A snowmobile is a lightweight motor vehicle designed to be driven and used on snow, ice, and in other low-traction environments. The specialized design of a snowmobile has a very low center of gravity, a widely distributed weight, and powerful traction, making it very suitable for snowy environments. In regions like the Arctic, snowmobiles are used regularly for transportation in the winters, when roads may not be accessible, and they are also used for recreation in more southern climates where seasonal snow is consistent enough for winter sports.
The origins of the snowmobile trace back to the early 1900s, when several Russian companies began experimenting with vehicles designed to run on the snow. When creating a vehicle which runs in the snow, designers need to think about several things: the potential of falling through lightweight powder or ice, reduced traction because of the slick surface, and an increased risk of tipping or falling as a result of the reduced traction. These early snowmobiles were heavy, with treads like those of tanks, but in the 1950s, the modern lightweight personal snowmobile design emerged, and the snowmobile really started to take off.
A typical snowmobile has two skis in front, used for steering, and treads in the back which are used to propel the snowmobile over the ice. The treads not only provide lots of traction, they also distribute the weight of the snowmobile, making it less prone to falling through loosely packed snow or thin ice. The vehicle has a low center of gravity, making it extremely hard to tip, and the driver sits on the snowmobile, using a set of handlebars to steer, and he or she is exposed to the elements, because the vehicle lacks a cockpit or shelter. As a result, it is important to bundle up when riding a snowmobile, and it is especially vital to protect the extremities.
Don’t have a snowmobile?
What Are the Rules?
What are the Trail Conditions?
Join a Club!