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The Season Has Begun: Snowmobiling in North Park

The Season Has Begun! Snowmobiling in North Park

North Park has its share of wide open spaces, incredible mountain vistas, and in the winter months, plenty of snow. Not only is North Park a haven for outdoor adventure sports such as hunting and fishing, it also has some of the best snowmobiling in Colorado. With rides ranging from maintained trail systems, forests, areas above timberline, and windswept plains, North Park snowmobiling is just what you have been looking for in out of the way locations without all of the crowds of other snowmobiling destinations.

North Park is a World-Class Destination for Snowmobiling

North Park is at the heart of several mountain ranges, public lands, and world class snow for winter sports. Snowmobile enthusiasts might have heard that Grand Lake is the snowmobile Capital of Colorado.  North Park is just over the mountains from more well-known snowmobiling spots, including Snowy Range in Wyoming, Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, and many Colorado snowmobiling hotspots.

Here are the top 8 places for snowmobiling in North Park you will want to add to your bucket list:

  1. Rabbit Ears Pass: Halfway between Walden and Steamboat, CO you will find Rabbit Ears Pass.  Located on the Continental Divide, Rabbit Ears offers high altitude trails, deep snow, and beautiful scenery.
  2. Buffalo Pass: Further north along the Park Range on the Continental Divide, Buffalo Pass is a beautiful and remote area with technical runs, lots of snow, and above treeline rides for your sled. Not for from the Coalmont area of North Park, you can find access to Buffalo Pass
  3. Big Creek Lake: Further north along the Park Range, in the shadow of Mt. Zirkel you will find Big Creek lake. Situated at 9,000 ft. Above sea level in the Routt National Forest, Big Creek not only has plenty of snowfall during the winter months, but also access to some of the most beautiful rides in North Park.
  4. Cameron Pass: On the pinnacle of HWY 14 at over 10,000 ft above sea level, between Ft. Collins, CO and Walden, CO, you will find Cameron Pass. With views of Mt. Richtofen, the Nokhu Crags, and even access to the Laramie River valley, you don’t get much more Colorado than this experience.
  5. Gould, CO: Rocky Mountain National Park is one of Colorado’s most well known destinations, but many don’t know that on the other side of the mountains to the north west is North Park, and Gould, CO. Gould’s trail system connects with Grand County’s system of trails as well.
  6. State Forest State Park: Not far from Gould, CO on HWY 14 you will find Colorado’s only State Forest and with it nearly endless combinations of mountain trails to ride your snowmobile.   
  7. County Road 8A: Further north along the Medicine Bow Range from State Forest State Park you will find trails leading out from Jackson County Road 8A, which run to the top of the mountains and beyond into Wyoming and into the backcountry of Larimer County with the headwaters of the Laramie River, Rawah
  8. Public Lands: Hundreds of thousands of acres of public BLM land, State, and National Forest are open for snowmobiling. With them are challenging routes, long flat stretches to wrap up your motor, and amazing wildlife you will encounter. North Park is known as the Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado, but also has an abundance of other wildlife including pronghorns, elk herds, deer, bald eagles, and big horn sheep. Check regulations for snowmobile use in these areas of North Park.

 

Vintage Snowmobile Races

From January until March, Xtreme Mountain Racing holds vintage snowmobile races on the Walden Reservoir just outside of town for one weekend each month.  Watch racers barrel around the ice on souped up sleds and old vintage snowmachines you might remember from back in the day. Check the Calendar of Events for more details.

2024 Gould Poker Run

The annual Gould Poker Run is happening again this year.  On February 17th, join in the fun with a poker run that takes you all around the groomed trail system surrounding Gould, CO. At $5 per hand or 5 hands for $20 you can win prizes, ride with other snowmobilers, and have a blast in some of the best snow in the state.

What You Need for Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling on public lands requires valid snowmobile registration, which can be obtained through the CPW website. Otherwise, you really just need a working snowmobile, a way to get it to the trails, and a lot of common sense. Even though snowmobiles are motor vehicles, they offer very little protection against the elements.  

Riders are going to be exposed to cold weather conditions, melting snow, and even high speeds which can result in serious injuries, even with protective gear. Helmets, cold weather gear, proper footwear, shovels, first aid, and even avalanche kits are strongly recommended.

Check this link for what the CPW website recommends for snowmobile safety.

What You Need to Know About Snowmobile Safety

Nothing compares to the thrill of accelerating across the blank canvas of a snowfield, breaking new trails on freshly fallen snow. Some riders enjoy the freedom of opening up their sleds on high-speed runs, while others love the rush of a technical hill climb.  

Whether you like riding the trails through pine forests or pulling inner tubes on a frozen lake, there’s no one right way to have fun on a snowmobile. But with great powers of wintertime fun come the responsibilities of making sure nobody gets hurt.

Dangers of Snowmobiling

As with any motorsport, special care must be taken to limit the chance of personal injury or even death on a snowmobile.  Here are some dangers to consider when taking your ride in North Park.

  • High speeds: Snowmobiles can go incredibly fast and rolling your sled or hitting an obstacle can be as serious as a motorcycle accident.  At high speeds, there’s not much difference between concrete and packed snow.
  • Fences: Always watch for fence lines, which can become buried or hard to see in the glare of all that white.  Fences can cause catastrophic injuries if you hit one on your snowmobile.
  • Trees: Not only are trees formidable obstacles that don’t get out of the way for riders, they can also create wells of soft, deep snow around their trunks which are capable of collapsing and trapping riders who get too close.
  • Frozen lakes: Always check the condition of the ice before riding across a frozen lake. A thickness of upwards of 12” of ice is recommended to prevent breaking through the ice.  Never ride on a partially frozen surface.
  • Rocks: Snow can cover rocks and boulders on mountain trails that are impossible to see until it’s too late.  If you are unsure of an area, proceed with caution and keep extremities like arms and legs close to your sled to guard against impact.
  • Getting lost: Snowmobiles allow us to go further and faster, but if we aren’t sure of an area, getting lost can happen quickly. Always let someone else know where you plan to be and when you plan to get home.  
  • Be Prepared: Keep an emergency preparedness kit with fire starters, compass, space blanket, food and other survival gear in the event you might get lost. GPS doesn’t always work out in the wilderness, especially if equipment gets wet or broken during a ride.
  • Frostbite: Lots of riders get distracted by all the fun they are having and don’t even notice their fingers and toes are getting too wet and cold.  Frostbite is one of the leading injuries for snowmobilers and if left untreated, can lead to permanent injury.
  • Hypothermia: Getting wet and cold can lead to hypotheria, which isn’t hard to do when you are skimming across the snow at speed. Hypothermia can lead to disorientation, getting lost, and even serious injury or death. Stay dry and be aware of your limitations.  If you are cold, come in and warm up.
  • Collisions: When we share trails with other riders, we run the risk of hitting more than just trees or rocks. Other snowmobilers who are riding recklessly or just not paying attention can cause wrecks that will definitely ruin your day on the trails.
  • Wildlife: The law prevents harrassing wildlife for good reasons.  Larger animals such as elk, moose, and bears can feel threatened by snowmobiles and retaliate.  Sometimes they might just become spooked by the noise and jump in front of your sled.
  • Avalanche: Especially in the high country, it is crucial to know whether or not avalanche is a possibility.  Riders can easily become buried under thousands of pounds of snow, and many snowmobilers have lost their lives after being caught in an avalanche.

 

Pack it In/Pack it Out

The reason North Park has such beautiful locations for winter activities is due to our isolation.  Without the impact other locations have had from increased tourism on our snowmobile trails, North Park has been able to stay pristine with the help of our visitors who practice leave-no-trace and low-impact methods on their visits.  Always dispose of waste, litter, and other garbage in designated waste recepticles.  Keeping North Park clean means enjoyment year after year, every time you visit!

Places to Stay in Walden, CO

You might be asking what the best places to stay near me in Walden for your visit to North Park, CO? Walden’s central location gives you a great jumping off point for not only North Park, but Snowy Range, Steamboat, Winter Park, and Grand Lake without the traffic! Also check VRBO and AirBnB for other vacation rental listings throughout Jackson County.

 

Places to Go After Snowmobiling

When you come to North Park for your snowmobiling adventure you are going to want to check out some of our hospitality and accommodations before and after your ride.

Fuel and Snacks in Walden, CO

Snowmobiles often need quality high-octane premium fuel, and as riders, we need snacks and a place to make a pit stop when we are headed to our favorite places to snowmobile in North Park. Check out our best gas stations in Walden, CO. Both gas and convenience stores are located across from each other on the corner of 6th and Main Street in Walden.

  • Corkle’s Mini Mart: Food, drinks, licenses, and snacks.  Also check out the North Park merch in the gift shop!
  • Sinclair Gas Station and Convenience Store: Just look for the green dinosaur! They’ve got you covered for road trip food, drinks, and supplies.

 

Outdoor Supplies and Groceries in Walden, CO

  • North Park Super’s: One mile north of Walden on HWY 125, you’ll find ice, beverages, groceries, and even hunting and fishing supplies at North Park Super’s.
  • Family Dollar: on the corner of 4th and Main Street, everything you’ve come to expect from your friends at the Family Dollar, including groceries, kitchen supplies, and electronics.
  • Timberline Builder’s Supply: Your source of lumber in North Park and Walden, but also a great place to find hardware to replace things that have broken on your travels. From plumbing fittings, fasteners, and even camping and outdoor equipment, you’ll find it here. Call (970) 723-4422 for hours of operation.

 

Best Places to Get Coffee in Walden, CO

  • Holy Grounds Coffee: Espresso, breakfast burritos, and pastries to get your motor running.Check them out at 219 Main Street in Walden, CO.
  • Rita’s Cafe: Breakfast and Lunch served 5 days per week.  Check out the review here!

 

North Park Restuarants Near Me

  • River Rock in Walden, CO : A sit down restaurant with hot drinks, food, and adult beverages for after a long day on the trails.
  • Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant in Gould, CO: If you are riding trails in Gould, Cameron Pass, State Forest State Park, or Owl Mountain, the Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant is close to you.  Serving up a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the snowmobile season, it’s a must-see place to stop to fill your stomach.
  • Rand Yacht Club in Rand, CO: At the south end of North Park on HWY 125 in Rand, CO, you’ll find the historic Rand Yacht Club.  Call (303) 909-2719 for hours of operation and to see what specials are on the menu.
  • The 10th Frame in Walden, CO: Open Tuesday-Saturday, take a break from riding and enjoy a burger, hot sandwiches, or any number of daily specials. It’s also got bowling and a full bar. A local favorite!
  • The Stockman Bar and Grill in Walden, CO: A local bar and grill featuring an original antique bar from the frontier days, local character, and plenty of good times.
  • Four Winds Pizza in Walden, CO: Pizza, ice cream, and antiques.  Call (970) 723-8668 for current seasonal hours.

 

Auto Parts and Service in Walden, CO

  • Jack’s Auto Parts and Service: Located at 528 Main Street in Walden, CO, Jack’s has a full tire shop, Napa brand parts, and service. (970) 723-4674
  • Baugh’s West Side Shop: Providing auto repair for over seven years and still running, Baugh’s West Side Shop provides excellent service to get your vehicle back on the road. (970) 723-4090

 

Come Check Out North Park for Your Next Visit!

With recent snow fall in the area, it can mean only one thing for snowmobilers. The season has begun!  North Park Colorado offers some of the best hidden gems for snowmobiling in Colorado.  From the Rabbit Ears trail system to Buffalo Pass, Cameron Pass and miles and miles of public land, you will love the places you can go and really open up that throttle. Check out our Calendar of Events for information about upcoming Poker Runs, Vintage Snowmobile Races, and so much more! Get started with planning your trip now, winter won't last forever.

 

 

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