By: Shelby Mahon
The further from home that you travel the more you need to pack, plan, and pay. That can feel like a daunting task, and a lot of extra time when all you want to do is squeeze the throttle and ride. Trailering your sled to a new destination, though, can actually make your ride more enjoyable, relaxing, and exciting. It all depends on what you want and where you go.
Riding from home is obviously the simplest option. We can probably all agree, nothing feels better than rolling out of bed and heading out for a day’s ride straight from the garage. You can leave whenever you like, bring snacks, have a trail side lunch, visit friends, and make your way home to your own comfy bed whenever you want. You’ll be close to home in case of a breakdown and you likely know your “home base” trails thoroughly. You probably even know the quickest route to the local grub shack and the best trails to hit when weekend traffic takes over. That being said, the downside of always riding from home is that you are always on the same trails, going to the same destinations, eating that same cheeseburger and fries, and seeing the same things over and over again. In other words, it can get a little boring. You could even be one of those poor sledheads who lives in a less than ideal area with a short season, or no season at all.
If you find yourself bored with your home region, or you’re suffering from a lack of snow, you can easily expand your riding options by loading up your sled and driving for a couple of hours. A simple one or two hour drive can often take you from red trails and bare patches to green trails with fresh snowfall. You will have to fork out extra cash for travel expenses like fuel, but when your local riding options include dirt roads and tree stumps, traveling to other locations with better conditions can save you big bucks on maintenance and replacement parts. Keeping the short drive also makes day trips an option if you can find a trail close by that allows you to return home the same day. Getting to know what your nearby options are and opening yourself up to new trails, new restaurants, and new terrain will unquestionably change your riding experience and extend your sledding season.
If a short drive to a neighbouring district won’t satisfy your riding itch, then it is time to pack your bags and head out for a real adventure. A four to six hour drive, or roughly half a day, can take you surprisingly far. If you leave early enough, you might even be able to fit in an evening or night ride upon arrival to your destination. The biggest perks to traveling further from home is the chance to explore new riding grounds and getting to meet up with friends who live near your riding location. These local friends can also make great tour guides and you can take turns showing each other your “home turf.” The downfall to being further from home is that you need to take into consideration what happens if you or another rider has a breakdown, changes in weather conditions, and the cost of food and lodging (unless you can convince your buddy to let you crash at their place!). However, one of the best parts of the snowmobile industry are the lodges, B&Bs, hotels and motels that cater to snowmobilers. These accommodations often include bonuses like helmet racks, heated sled storage, boot mats, and a sledhead atmosphere that can be an adventure all its own.
If you consider yourself a passionate sledder, you’ve probably already got a bucket list of epic riding destinations you’d love to tackle. Those riding destinations are also likely a full day’s drive or more away. The drive, packing, planning, and preparation can seem discouraging, but it will be 100% worth it. You can also ease the stress by getting your riding buddies involved with planning, cost splitting, and driving. Consider taking one of these amazing road trip adventures at least once in your life with your close riding buddies or family for memories no one will ever forget.
I feel like I should end this off with some cheesy quote about how you can truly “find yourself” through traveling and exploring new places, but let’s be honest - we don’t always need a life changing experience or trip. We just want deep snow, butter smooth trails, and the perfect riding temperature. If you’re lucky, some days that’s in your own backyard, and some days that means you are going to need to plan, prep, pack your bags and hit the open road.