Thinking of taking a break from skiing for a day? Want to see as much of the valley as possible? If you answered ‘yes’, you need to check out the snowmobile tours at Grand Adventures.
Some of our staff members took a recent snowmobile tour with this quality operation and here’s a snapshot of what they said:
‘wow, these are comfy….whoops, found the gas…..this is fun….oooh hand warmers….throttle on….we’re going down there??….I’ve never seen the valley from here…..I feel the need, the need for speed….oh, oh, I think I’m stuck…so, where can I buy a snowmobile?’
Grand Adventures is the largest snowmobile operation in Colorado with more than 350 miles of groomed trails to explore, and a fleet of more than 200 top of the line snowmobiles. They offer both guided & unguided tours in Winter Park’s extensive National Forest.
We took the popular 2 hour Continental Divide guided tour, which is a perfect introduction to snowmobiling for all levels of rider, including first time drivers. From the outset, we had complete confidence in the professionalism of all the staff. We were kitted out with our helmets and boots, and then briefed on what to expect on the ride, safety rules, and how to operate the snowmobiles.
Being type-A’s (must be a ski resort thing!), we all wanted to drive, so we were each issued our own sled; but these machines are like luxury cars, and can be ridden very comfortably by two people at once (only thing missing is the coffee cup holder).
The tour itself is an absolute blast. We started out at a steady pace, giving everyone the chance to get a feel for the sled, practice keeping a safe distance between each other, and learn how to lean into turns. Very quickly, we started to relax and gain confidence on our snowmobiles and the pace picked up a bit as we zipped up the mountain trails with huge grins on our faces. Just when we were starting to feel like x-games candidates, our guides took a pause and said ‘Ok, you guys are doing great, so we’re going to try a little single track riding’….hmnn, suddenly those butterflies again! We left the main road, to cruise down a narrow trail that wound its way through the forest along a frozen creek bed. It was absolutely stunning, and the nerves quickly subsided as we begin to enjoy the challenge of the trail and feel like we are really riding.
The tour continued in a similar vain with some road riding, combined with some single track, and incredible views of the valley from an elevation of close to 12,000 ft (that’s 3,000 ft higher than when we started out). We took a few stops along the way to take some pictures, stretch out our legs, and learn a little history of the area. My favorite stop was at the old Trestle of the historic “Moffat” railroad that linked Winter Park with the Front Range via Corona Pass.
At the mid-point of the tour we are led to a big open meadow and given the opportunity to hit the gas and see what those sleds could do. Our one rule was to all go clockwise around the meadow, be aware of distances, and don’t take the sleds off into the powder (these machines aren’t designed for that type of riding, but some of the other tours do have powder fun on the agenda). In a big old flurry of excitement, we all took off around the meadow, and within seconds one of our crew had inadvertently found themselves in the forbidden powder and going nowhere. The guides took it all in good nature and just laughed saying, ‘yeah, there’s pretty much always one’. Within minutes they had the snowmobile out of the snow and we were back off down the trail.
When we reach the end of the ride, everyone had an exhilarated glow about them, and was eager to share their experience with one another. Some of our first time snowmobilers admitted to being nervous before the trip, but were now absolutely ecstatic that they went, and can’t wait to sign up for an even longer tour next time.
This tour is perfect for beginner to intermediate riders, and families looking to take a day away from the slopes. There are also advanced tours available for the more experienced snowmobiler, and rentals for those who like to go it alone.
Grand Adventures is located in Winter Park and offers tours and rentals on a daily basis. For further information, or to book a tour or rental, visit www.grandadventures.com, or call them on 970-726-9247.
Sarah February 7th, 2014