Utah State Parks Blog

TOP 10 Things You Need to Remember Before Snowmobiling

Planning to hit your favorite trails on the snowmobile this weekend? Us to! After all, Utah is home to some of the best snow on earth, and the perfect place to enjoy some outdoor fun.

Before you rev up your engine and head out, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 things you need to remember before hitting that snowy trail. This is by no-means an all-inclusive list of the items and plans you should make before a trip into the snow; but rather, things we consider especially important to remember.

Always remember to check the weather forecast before heading outside

Always remember to check the weather forecast before heading outside

1. Check avalanche conditions and the weather forecast

Before you start packing your backpack or checking the oil on your new snowmobile, it is important to look up the weather conditions in your area to ensure it is a safe time to adventure out.

No one wants to be caught in an avalanche, and now, with the rise of smart phones and online communities, checking conditions is easier than ever. For easy and instant access, download an avalanche app such as the Utah Avalanche Center (iOS only) or Avalanche Forecasts (iOS and Android). These apps provide information on avalanche warnings, weather, roads, and slope angles.

 2. Know your route and make a plan

Once you’ve made sure the weather is ideal and the avalanche conditions are solid, it’s time to plan out your route. Utah has snowmobile trails across the state, and many of them can be found by using our interactive maps.

Plan your route in advance.

Plan your route in advance.

Always be sure to check the grooming reports for your area as well. After all, no one wants to get stuck out in the snow. For a full list of OHV maps and trails, visit the OHV maps section of the Utah State Parks website.

 3. Pack for an avalanche emergency, even if it looks clear

While no one plans to get stuck under feet of snow, it is never a bad idea to plan ahead on what to do if you are caught in an avalanche yourself, or come across another rider who has. Some important items to keep in your pack include a snow probe, an avalanche beacon, and a shovel.

Snow probes are used by rescuers to probe around under several feet of snow in order to locate someone who trapped after an avalanche. They slightly resemble collapsible tent-poles and have markings on them used to measure how deep the snow is to the target.

An avalanche beacon is another item used by rescuers to help locate those trapped under the snow. These tools can also be used to transmit the signal to other beacons, allowing you to send out an emergency signal should you be the one trapped.

A shovel is an important addition to your avalanche kit

A shovel is an important addition to your avalanche kit

A shovel should be able to do exactly what its name entails; shovel. These shovels don’t have to necessarily be big and bulky, but should be large and strong enough to get the job done. Whether you are digging out a stuck snowmobile, or getting to a buried rider under the snow, the trusty shovel is always a good item to have on-hand.

 4. Dress for the weather

While we all love the snow and the recreation opportunities it brings, one thing remains true: snow is cold. So, to ensure you have the most enjoyable time possible while in the snow, it’s important to dress for the weather.

Wearing under layers is important to staying safe and comfortable while riding in the falling snow and cold winds. Remember, if you have too many layers on, you can always remove some; but you can’t add more than you have with you. These base layers should be lightweight and have the ability to dry quickly.

For your outer layer, there are many different kinds snowmobile suits made specifically for time on the trails. These suits protect from the wind and snow, and are often waterproof. There are also some models equipped with flotation devices just in case you fall through a sheet of ice.

Also, don’t forget your facemasks, gloves, socks, boots and goggles.


Always remember to pack a first-aid kit

 5. Take an emergency preparedness kit

Anyone who spent time with boy scouts knows the motto “Be Prepared!” and the same goes for snowmobiling. Emergency kits come in many shapes and sizes, and there are plenty that don’t take up much room. After all, you’d rather have one with you in a situation than risk not having one just to save some space.

Some basic essentials for your kit include: an emergency whistle, a reflective blanket, water, high-energy foods like granola or meal bars, and a basic first-aid kit.

 6. Bring a friend

Heading out for some fine time in the mountains? Bring a friend with you! Not only does this allow for some quality bonding-time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but it also helps you safeguard against dangers. Should you get stuck, your snowmobile damaged, or worse, having another rider with you will give you a way to get off the mountain, or get help to you quickly.

An avalanche probe is used to help rescuers locate those trapped under snow

An avalanche probe is used to help rescuers locate those trapped under snow

7. Let people know where you are

Often times, lost or trapped snowmobilers could have been found and rescued much sooner if someone off the mountain were aware something was wrong. Letting a friend, co-worker, or family member know where you are planning on going and when you should return allows search and rescue personal an idea of where you may be located should the situation go south.

Keep your contact off the mountain updated. Snow conditions in your area change causing you to alter your course? Give your friend a quick call and let them know the new plan.

 8. Wear sunscreen and bring some with you

Just because the temperature is low and the sun is often behind the clouds, doesn’t mean it’s time to put the sunscreen away with the bathing suits and beach towels. In fact, 80 percent of UV radiation is reflected back up at you from snow, while sand only reflects 20 percent. Add in the higher altitude, and sunscreen really starts to sound like a smart idea.

Don’t forget to reapply the sunscreen throughout the trip, and it’s also a good plan to use one with at least an SPF 30 rating. Moisturizers added to the sunscreen may also help keep your skin from becoming dry and damaged from the wind and cold.

Helmets are a must for anyone riding a snowmobile.

Helmets are a must for anyone riding a snowmobile.

 9. Wear your helmet

Helmets are critical when insuring rider safety, and should be worn at all times when riding a snowmobile. Not only do they keep you safe should the snowmobile crash, but they also add another layer to help keep your body warm.

Whenever possible, full-face helmets are the best to wear because they help protect you face and eyes (with the help of goggles) from the wind and cold, while also helping protect your face from impact.

 10. Have fun!

Even with all these things, the most important thing to remember is to have fun while on your snowmobile. The sense of freedom and adventure the trails provide is hard to beat, and with snowmobile popularity on the rise things are only looking up from here.

For any questions about snowmobile maps, laws or other matters, visit our OHV website, or give us a call at 1-801-538-RIDE.

OHV Website

Having fun is the most important rule when snowmobiling

Having fun is the most important rule when snowmobiling

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