Know before you go: 10 steps for responsible snowmobiling

Snowmobile - stock staff photo in mountains

Albertans are a hearty bunch: we can complain about the weather with the best of them, but we’ve always been good at finding ways to take advantage of our annual deep freeze – and for many of us, there’s no better place to do that than on the back of a snowmobile.

Snowmobile shutterstock 2

There’s no denying that snowmobiling is a blast – but the speed and power that make it so fun can also cause significant damage to the landscape, particularly to areas that are sensitive or protected.

When you’re out on the land, you are responsible for taking steps to limit your impact – and keep yourself safe. Here are 10 things you need to do.

Be Prepared

  1. Before you leave, decide on your route and check public land closures to make sure it’s open. Alberta’s parks and recreation areas have their own snowmobiling rules – check them here.
  2. Check local weather conditions before you head out. Confirm ice conditions with your local authority, and avoid unfamiliar bodies of water when you’re out (they may not be able to support your weight).
  3. There’s safety in numbers: if you can, ride with a friend or a group – don’t go alone. And make sure you tell someone where you are going, your route, and when you plan on returning.
  4. Carry emergency supplies with you, and learn survival skills. This guide has great tips for getting prepared.

Obey the law

  1. Stay in areas where snowmobiling is permitted, and don’t cross onto agricultural lease land without permission.
  2. Ride only on approved trails. There’s no central source for all trail maps (yet) – depending on your area, you can check maps for Public Land Use Zones here or check Alberta TrailNet.
  3. Take your garbage with you, and leave the area as you found it.

Ride responsibly – limit your impact

  1. Share the trail and watch for other trail users. Learn proper hand signals (so that you can communicate with other riders) and obey all trail signs.
  2. Keep your distance from wildlife.
  3. Minimize your impact: ride only on solid, frozen ground; avoid environmentally sensitive areas; keep noise to a minimum; and never ride on shorelines that aren’t frozen.

Remember: responsible riding goes beyond your actions – if you see an emergency or illegal activity on the land, we need you to report it. You can call these numbers 24-7:

  • Report a Poacher: 1-800-642-3800
  • Energy and Environmental Emergency Response Line 1-800-222-6514.

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