One of the reasons we chose to be miserably cold, because to us anything below 75 is miserably cold, for Spring Break instead of roasting away on a beach was that I wanted to go snowmobiling! I knew that my husband and kids would love it, too! As soon as I booked our AirBNB for Fraser, Colorado, I started looking for snowmobiling tours! In fact, I made sure there were snowmobiling tours still available before I even booked our AirBNB!
I also booked it on our first day in Colorado, so if something happened and we had to reschedule, we still had 3 other days to do it. This tip has saved many trips for us, when the thing we wanted to do most was cancelled due to storms, etc.
In doing my pre-trip research, I quickly found out that there are guided snowmobiling trips and snowmobile rentals, and each has their own pros and cons. We have never “snowmobiled” before, so I knew a tour was best for us! I booked the two-hour Trailblazer guided tour with Grand Adventures, because it was available, lots of great reviews and it was extremely close to our AirBNB condo.
My son is 15, and if he had his driving permit, he would have been allowed to drive a snowmobile by himself, but I doubted he would have it by the time we went on our trip, so I booked two tandem snowmobiles, with the thought that if he surprised me I would try to change our reservation. I assumed I would ride with my husband, which seemed like a good idea because we could change out along the trail and I would get to drive, also. That didn’t happen.
In getting ready for our tour, we dressed much as we would for skiing; waterproof pants, jacket, hat, ski gloves, ski goggles and waterproof boots. I lost one of my thinner gloves, and the ski glove was really useless on the snowmobile, even though I was just holding on. It was a sunny day and much warmer than we thought. Many of the people working around town were in shorts, although it was still in the 40’s. That sun really makes a difference in the mountains.
We arrived, filled out our release forms, checked in and I did purchase the accident insurance on the snowmobiles for $25 each, because I know my family, and I was afraid I’d be worried instead of having a good time. I’m glad I did it for our first time, because there could have been some issues, but probably wouldn’t do it again. They rent snowsuits and boots, and sell gloves and goggles. I priced their Smith goggles at $30, cheaper than Academy at home. I did purchase a thin, Grand Adventures balaclava face mask for $12, and it was my best purchase of the trip! It kept off the wind but I still felt I could breathe through it.
There were eight snowmobiles on our tour, all tandem but 2. We had a quick safety briefing, then discussed our responsibilities should we damage the snowmobiles and did a quick check of any prior damage, similar to a car rental.
Our guide, Scotty, was great! He explained everything about the snowmobiles, including my favorite feature, the hand warmers on the handles! I loved that he had his dog, Bode with him, who often goes out on the tours but not this one. He discussed the possibility of seeing wild animals, too, such as moose! He said they often spot them, but he hadn’t seen any fresh tracks when he was out earlier, but if we did, to just give them plenty of space.
I loved snowmobiling so much more than I ever expected to! It was amazing! We took it easy at first, stopping often to adjust, admire the views, get pictures and ask any questions as well as learn a little about the mountains around us! My kids played in the snow, got soaking wet, and just had a blast! I was quickly very thirsty, and did not bring anything to drink, but was told it was fine to just eat the freshly fallen snow off the ground! It was so refreshing! Soon all the kids were digging their hands down a foot into the snowbanks for snow to eat, which I’m not sure is the same as freshly fallen, but ok.
The tracks were wide enough to pass other snowmobilers, but as we entered the Arapaho National Forest, the trail slimmed down to a single track and we had to go much slower. This was my favorite part, and I loved being in the forest surrounded by the beautiful trees. I did, until my son learned he could lean over and scoop up snow and hit me with snowballs! From then on, it was war. Not as agile as him, and with me in front and having to twist around to throw, I definitely lost!
I should have switched with my husband during the single track, because when we opened back up to the wider lanes, we took off. The snowmobiles will go about 50-60 mph, and I think we were going at least 50 if not faster. I did not think they would go that fast! Those wanting to go faster were in front and the slower in the back. I knew my husband wanted to go fast, and I knew I’d be in the very back, creeping along and I that’s why I chose not to drive. Next time though, I’m definitely not getting a tandem. And there will definitely be a next time, because it was incredible!
Two hours after we took off, we arrived back. Scotty did a quick check to make sure no one had any damage, and we all thanked him for such a great tour! I really loved that we were able to Venmo him a tip, as I think it’s sometimes a little awkward to hand over cash, and Scotty definitely deserved it for all he did, including pulling us out of the snowbanks a couple of times when we got stuck! He said we owed him a couple of beers but hopefully he was able to buy more than a couple of cases and a bone for his dog. Wondering how much to tip? Outside Magazine has an article from 2015, suggesting 10-20% of your trip, before taxes. While it’s an older article, I think the math still works, increasing to 15-25%, depending on how competent you perceived your guide.
To read about our entire Spring Break trip in Colorado, click HERE.
Grand Adventures Winter Park
78311 U.S. Hwy 40, suite 100, Winter Park, Colorado
Click HERE to visit their website.
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