Feel the need for speed this winter? Try snowmobiling

Snowmobiling can be great fun for people of every age and Grand Mesa has almost 500 miles of groomed trails for riding. Photo courtesy Thunder Mountain Lodge

Those who ride snowmobiles also like to jump, fly and soar over the snow. Appropriate gear is essential and is often provided or available from rental companies. Photo courtesy of Thunder Mountain Lodge

Yes, the snow is beautiful. It’s pristine and white, quiet and serene. But not everyone wants serenity when they head out for some winter recreation.

Some people enjoy adrenaline-charged action, with the roar of an engine and the thrill of speed. Those adrenaline junkies ought to try snowmobiling this winter. And Grand Mesa is a wonderful backyard playground for it.

“No matter what your level of snowmobiling expertise, you can have a lot of fun on Grand Mesa,” said Ron Pollard, owner of Funshares Rental, which rents machines, trailers and gear. “It’s always great snow. It’s good, deep, fun snow and great views.”

Funshares has 15 machines that are available for rent. Pollard recommends making a reservation, especially for customers who want a specific manufacturer or a certain size of machine.

A trailer for hauling the sleds, as well as helmets and goggles are standard when renting any snowmobile. Customers who need additional clothing or footwear can rent them, for an additional cost. A single-day rental ranges from $170 to $240, depending on the size of the machine.

“If they’re first timers, we make them go through a video training at the store,” Pollard said. “Riding is a very aerobic event. You can’t just sit and point and make them go anywhere you want.”

Those who aren’t sure of their ability on snowmobiles can take a guided snowmobile tour.  Thunder Mountain Lodge, on top of Grand Mesa near the visitor’s center, offers full and half-day tours. The lodge has touring sleds and high-performance sleds, for those who want a little more zoom.

This year, Thunder Mountain Lodge is also renting machines and allowing visitors to fly off into the snow without a guide. Cost ranges from $150 to $300, depending on whether a machine is rented for a half day or full day. The lodge also has snowshoes for rent, which may be a calming activity after a vigorous day spent on a sled.

All-Terrain Motorsports can accommodate those who want to own their own sled, carrying Ski-doo, Arctic Cat and Yamaha.

The company also rents snowmobilies starting at $350 per day and $50 for each additional day.

Helmets and trailers are provided with the rental. Renting may not make sense for someone who wants ride every weekend, but is a great option for those who want to ride a few days every winter.

“A basic entry level sled could start at $5,000 or $6,000,” said Brandon Hunt, parts and accessories manager for the store, “but for this area, you need a more expensive sled. It has to be designed for the mountains and the snow conditions.”

The snow is light and fluffy in Western Colorado, not like the heavy or wet snow in the Midwest or East Coast. Snowmobiles have to have more horsepower, but also need to be lighter, which can drive up the cost. Of course, since the snow doesn’t settle and become icy, cold cement, it’s also a lot more fun for riding and jumping.

There are nearly 500 miles of groomed trails on the Grand Mesa. One well-known and frequently traveled trail goes from Grand Mesa to Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood Springs.

Sunlight Mountain Resort also offers snowmobile tours near the ski area; one is a short, hour-and-a-half tour and the other is a two-and-a-half hour ride through the Baylor Park area. Right now, the resort is offering a special deal for Grand Junction residents through its website – those who book a Baylor Park snowmobile tour receive a free lift ticket at the ski area.

Don’t sit around bored, waiting for warm weather to return to the Grand Valley this winter. Get out and zoom above the January inversion on a snowmobile.


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