Top 3 places to ride Snowmobiles and Timbersleds in 2016.
Wondering where to go ride in Colorado? We already know that on New Years Day any place with the name “Vail” in the title is going to be super busy and this includes Vail Pass Colorado. So where can you go with your Snowmobiles and Snow Bikes (Timbersleds) to avoid the heavy crowds on New Years Day and throughout the 2016 winter season? After careful consideration, we have compiled a list from our own experiences over the past 15 years.
#1. Sylvan Lakes Colorado
Located just west of Vail and South East of Eagle and known as a popular summer destination for paddle boarders, campers, and travelers looking to take the back roads to Aspen, the Sylvan Lake Region offers enough open space to keep you exploring for days. Most of the area is comprised of rolling hills, thick forest, and high alpine terrain with a few steep pitches to be weary of. There is even a canyon of sorts that cuts through the middle. The region is a popular destination for a few local riders but is far enough away from the front range of Colorado to keep the masses from charging the snow in full force. One disadvantage of the Sylvan Lakes Region is its distance from any gas or service stations. Those of you on TImbersleds will want to top off your spare tank before heading out and for those of you with snowmobiles, you will want to have a spare can in your truck. The town of Eagle is known for having the worst cell phone and internet coverage in Eagle County and by the time you reach your destination at Sylvan Lake, you will be officially off-the-grid so plan accordingly with GPS devices, maps and always let others know that you will be in the area and when.
#2. Montezuma Colorado
You can’t go wrong with Montezuma. Though it is a small open space to ride through, it just isn’t on most people’s radar. Lets face it, if you’re from the front range of Colorado and spent a few hours in skier traffic, you’re probably not willing to make the U-turn off the highway to double-back through Keystone and up to Montezuma – you most likely already have your plans in place for either Vail Pass or Rabbit Ears Pass. For those of you in Vail, it may just look like too far of a drive and why would you take an extra hour to get there when you can just pull off on the pass? Well, it’s for those two reasons that make Montezuma one of my top choices. Much like Sylvan Lakes, it stays relatively quiet no matter the time of season. The one down side is that even though the area is big in terms of square acres, the available space to ride is really only enough to keep you occupied for about a day. Most of the riding is through narrow valleys and the mountain peaks are too steep to climb which can also make the region a high avalanche risk so you must check the conditions before heading out. Just like the Sylvan Lake Region you will be completely off-the-grid by the time you pass Keystone and your last chance for gas is in the town of Keystone. There used to be a general store in Montezuma where you could purchase food rations and fuel but we’re sorry to say that the shop closed down a few years ago. As for scenery, you really can’t beat having two of Colorado’s most popular 14ers (Grays and Torrey’s) as your backdrop.
#3. South Glenwood Springs
I actually discovered this area on a cross country skiing trip. We were spending the day up behind Ski Sunlight and in the distance I could hear the sounds of Braap Braaaap Braaaaaap. Once I returned home I immediately looked at the White River National Forest Open Space Map and sure enough the region is designated for recreational motor vehicle use. It’s an open and relatively flat area of land which is great for those of you heading out on a snow bike (timbersled) for the first time or for those of you who really want a chance to open up the throttle on an RMK800. The hardest part about the region is just getting to it. Navigating the slow roads of Glenwood Springs you need to get on 4 Mile Road (117) at the south end of town. If you miss the cut-off you will have to circle back in often times heavy Pitkin County traffic. Once you get on 4 Mile Road you just need to pay attention as there is a split right before Ski Sunlight. Take the split and you will loop around the ski area on the north side. As you head up the road you will see people parked along the road. DO NOT park too early on the road – the designated open space does not begin until you reach the main parking area a few miles up. The parked cars you see early on are either out cross country skiing or breaking the forest rules thereby eventually ruining it for the rest of us. Please always follow the forest service guidelines so we can keep our open spaces, open. Once you find the main entrance, you will see powder fields in every direction. Again, you will be off-the-grid at this point so have a map ready but you will quickly learn why this location is worth the drive.
If you’re looking to head out into any of these regions, be sure to give us a call so that we can get you set up with your equipment early in the morning thereby giving you plenty of time to get to your chosen location. If you are going to any of these regions, or heck, any region at all in Colorado, we highly recommend that you bring proper avalanche safety gear, extra fuel, food, water, maps, and proper attire – always avoid cotton.
Braaaaaaapy 2016 everyone and we look forward to seeing you out in the snow.