If you think the best way to enjoy a wintry landscape is to sit inside by the fire and gaze out the window, think again. Get outdoors, throw on a helmet, and conquer the snowy terrain as you zoom along on a snowmobile. If you’re a thrill seeker, you can zip through the woods; if you prefer something more relaxed, you can opt for a scenic tour of backcountry trails. Either way, the 10 best snowmobiling destinations in the U.S. feature hundreds of miles of well-groomed trails, with something to please everyone. —Zachary Laks
West Yellowstone, Montana
West Yellowstone, Montana, just miles from Idaho and Wyoming, is a snowmobiling mecca with its seemingly endless pristine trails. The wide scope of natural elements that are encompassed on these revered trails defies expectations and continuously surprises. Two Tops Snowmobile takes riders on a number of guided tours (with options including the Old Faithful Geyser Basin and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone) on new Ski Doo 4-strokes. As you gain in elevation, upwards of 2,000 feet above sea level, it’s hard to miss the wondrous naturally formed “tree goblins”—trees along the trails that have been completely covered in snow and no longer resemble trees. With natural wonders all around, this is the rare chance to gain some thrills while viewing West Yellowstone from the easy access of a snowmobile.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Montana Guide
Yellowstone National Park’s Bridger-Teton National Forest has made a name for itself in the snowmobile scene, as the destination maintains an impressive 600 miles of trails. As the hub for all the action, the Togwotee Mountain Lodge prides itself on accommodating first-time snowmobilers, as well as world-class motorists who fly in from around the world to defy the off-trail courses. The Lodge is known for its friendly guides and top-of-the-line sleds that can handle the demanding terrain. Powdery snow, straightaways, and deep backwoods challenges are just some of the features of the trails that make Togwotee a must on any snowmobiler’s list.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Wyoming Guide
Priest Lake, Idaho
Winters seem to last a bit longer at Northern Idaho’s Elkins Resort on Priest Lake, Idaho. Not far from the Canadian border, Elkins Resort rolls out the white carpet for snowmobilers with two trail heads throughout the Selkirk Mountain Range accessible directly from your cabin. Hundreds of miles of groomed trails ascend up mountain peaks as high as 7,000 feet, where deeply wooded trails lead to breath-taking views of Idaho’s natural beauty. Two warming huts are available as pit stops and easy guideposts to trails that lead to many of the local restaurants in town.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Idaho Guide
Seeley Lake, Montana
Western Montana’s Mission and Swan Mountains are home to some of Montana’s best snowmobile trails, as 365 miles of terrain take the willing through the paths. Innumerable scenic vistas, frozen lakes that offer heart-racing opportunities for speed, and chance encounters with the area’s wildlife are some of the highlights of Seeley Lake. A local non-profit group of snowmobile enthusiasts named the Driftriders groom the trails, as well as provide resources for visitors to the area looking to rent snowmobiles, stay the night, and find a good bite to eat. For the easiest loop trail, start with the 15-mile course around Marshall Lake.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Missoula, Kalispell, and Northwest Montana Guide
Mount Snow, Vermont
Race through the hills and valleys of southwest Vermont’s Mount Snow, a snowmobile destination in the Green Mountains. With guided tours operating daily, Snowmobile Vermont on Mount Snow takes you through the renowned trails of the Vermont State trail system at your own pace. Novices and those with more experience are encouraged to hop on the new Polaris snowmobiles, after suiting up with helmets and boots, provided by the company. Mount Snow’s splendor slowly reveals itself as the powerful land rovers take you deep into the pines.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Vermont Guide
Heber City, Utah
About 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City in northern Utah, the Daniels Summit Lodge is the base camp for a network of over 200 miles of snowmobile trails, ranging from novice to expert levels. Specializing in snowmobile experiences, the lodge takes riders out through Strawberry Valley utilizing their extraordinary inventory of 100 vehicles. The guided tours will take you out alongside the scenic vistas of Strawberry Ridge and get you back in time to warm up at happy hour.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Park City and the Southern Wasatch Guide
Katahdin Region of Maine
With a snowmobiling outback referred to as “Maine’s Wilderness Jewel,” the Katahdin Region has a network of curated trails that stretch out more than 400 miles. A longstanding local culture, snowmobiling is the favorite winter sport throughout the region, with local businesses offering snowmobile parking, repair shops, and many organized rides throughout the trails. The area’s trails are well maintained by dedicated volunteers, thanks to the many snowmobile clubs and the community of enthusiasts.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Maine Guide
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Blanketed with an average of 347 inches of what Steamboat Springs refers to as “Champagne Powder,” see the best of Colorado’s Continental Divide on one of Steamboat’s snowmobile trails. As part of a package with the Steamboat Resort, those looking to experience the rush of a snowmobile are offered two hour, four hour, and full-day tours of the adventurous trails daily through April 12 this year. Dinner-package excursions include a gourmet meal, with options usually including a grilled ribeye steak, Rocky Mountain trout, fire roasted chicken, or a vegetarian selection. Expect challenging terrain throughout the Routt National Forest with rewarding views that extend far beyond the horizon of trees and wintry meadows.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Steamboat Springs and Northwest Colorado Guide
Brainerd Lakes Area, Minnesota
With an interconnected trail system of an unbelievable 1,200 miles, the Brainerd Lakes Area’s snowmobiling facilities attract the sport’s fanatics to this Midwestern hub. With practically all of Brainerd’s more than 500 lakes frozen throughout the winter months, snowmobilers revel in the tree-less expanses with races and tricks. On the Paul Bunyan Trail, Minnesota’s longest continuously paved state trail at 115 miles, newly relaxed restrictions now allow snowmobiles, giving riders even more to explore. Look to local resort Cragun’s or Seaberg Motorsports for snowmobile rentals.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Minnesota Guide
St. Germain, Wisconsin
The Cabins and Lodge Homes of Black Bear Lodge are home base in Wisconsin’s lake-filled St. Germain, where winter snowmobiling is a featured activity among ice fishers and cross-country skiers. The remote wooded area in north Wisconsin is best known for its Bo-Boen Snowmobile trails. Organized and maintained by the Bo-Boen Club, Wisconsin’s largest organized snowmobile club, volunteers provide on-trail guidance throughout the expansive network. Look to the local St. Germain Rentals for day-long sled rentals and trail maps.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Wisconsin Guide