Snowmobilers can legally ride any of the more than 22,000 miles of Minnesota’s state and grant-in-aid snowmobile trails, from Dec. 1 through the end of March, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“Although many trails do not yet have adequate snow cover for grooming, this is a good time to register your snowmobile, inspect your equipment, download maps and do your trip planning,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “Minnesota offers a variety of scenery and terrain to explore in state parks, in state forests, on state trails and on private land that citizens kindly allow snowmobilers to use throughout the winter months.”
The economic impact of snowmobiling in Minnesota is estimated to be approximately $1 billion each year, according to Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA). Minnesota snowmobile registrations totaled 216,144 last season.
“Outdoor recreation, including winter activities, is important to Minnesota tourism,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota. “Snowmobiling Minnesota’s excellent trails, lakes and forests is a great way to take in beautiful winter scenery that can be found only in Minnesota.”
As riders head out on the trails, the DNR urges them to ride safely and responsibly.
“Know the rules and use common sense,” said DNR Conservation Officer Adam Block. “Obey signs, drive sober and be especially careful around wetlands, streams and lakes, because the ice may not be thick enough to ride on, especially this early in the season.”
Club volunteers maintain more than 21,000 of the Minnesota’s 22,000-plus trail miles. Trail clubs welcome new members to help keep trails open and join in other club activities.
“Snowmobile clubs and trail crews are out working on the trails now, and have been for some time,” said Terry Hutchinson, president of MnUSA, “but it could be awhile before trails in some parts of the state will be ready to ride.”
Snowmobile trail maintenance costs are partially funded through snowmobile registrations, trail pass sales, and gas tax attributed to snowmobile use. Donations, fundraisers, and volunteer work by trail clubs make up the remainder of the costs and efforts to operate these trails.
Snow depth and trail conditions are updated every Thursday after 2 p.m. throughout the winter months at http://www.mndnr.gov/snow.
Printed maps are available at local DNR offices and also can be ordered by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or sending an email message to email@example.com. More information on snowmobile and winter travel opportunities in Minnesota can be found at http://www.exploreminnesota.com. MnUSA’s snowmobile trail reports are available at http://mnsnowmobiler.org/index.php?pageid=95.