There are many ways a city can earn its identity. Portland, Oregon, has a large population of homeless-by-choice hippies. The Detroit Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cup championships, which give the town its “Hockeytown” nickname. Los Angeles is known for rubes. Eagle River, Wisconsin, calls itself the Snowmobile Capital of the World. As a snowmobiler, that’s the label I’d want my hometown to have. Here are a few criteria that I think an area must meet in order to be considered a snowmobiling community. How many of these standards does your city have?
Snowmobile Trails in the Community This one’s obvious and simple. In order to be classified as a snowmobiling community, your town needs to have trails that lead in and around it and to bring riders in to see your trails and let riders out to explore other riding areas …
Local Club Maintains the Trails … And if a community is going to have snowmobile trails, those trails will need to be marked and groomed. Snowmobile clubs do all of this work because they love the sport of snowmobiling and they want to see it thrive so other people can enjoy it, too.
Snowmobile-Friendly Rules Rather than an outright ban that outlaws sleds in town and requires people to trailer their machine to a park-n-ride lot, some municipalities have ordinances that make it legal for snowmobilers to ride on streets to gain access to snowmobile trails. Some towns might not plow down to the pavement on snowmobile routes through town so sled travel is easier and safer, not to mention this reduces wear on roadways caused by wear bars and studs.
Annual Snowmobile Event Yearly events like radar runs, swap meets or grass drags are a good way to get local snowmobilers together so they can meet riding partners, enjoy the camaraderie and take part in the festival-like atmosphere. There are advantages to both off-season and in-season events. Weather is often pleasant for grass drags in late summer or fall so families can bring young children. Winter events are fun because people can ride their sleds to the events.
Sled Compound at Schools “The track in the sled goes round and round, round and round ….” This one is a biggie. Schools that offer a safe, secure area for students to park their sleds are providing a wonderful service for kids who ride. It promotes snowmobile use and certainly lets the kids experience a much more fun way to get to school than on that big, bouncing yellow bus. Kids who ride sleds to school are probably proud to sport helmet hair in social studies class.
Team Colors are Everywhere If you make a run to the grocery store in the winter and you usually see at least one snowmobile jacket, you’re in a snowmobiling community. Sledders are some of the most passionate group of enthusiasts out there, and it’s always cool to see their colors at the store, the movie theater or church.
Bonus: Trail X-ing Sign on Roadway Whether installed with state, county or city money, if a sign like this one is posted on a roadway, that town should be automatically classified as an “official” snowmobiling community. The year-round sign means that snowmobiles are so prevalent there that permanent signage was deemed necessary for the safety of snowmobilers and motorists.