It’s snowing fresh powder. Our guide uses his smart phone to scan the code on trail signage and get a portable map of Eagle Trail. We’re 177 km (110 mi) northwest of Edmonton, just outside of Whitecourt – the official Snowmobile Capital of Alberta – and we can hardly wait to get going.
Snowmobiling in Alberta gives you access to more than 5,000 km (3,107 mi) of mapped and marked trails, 34 volunteer-led clubs and scenic terrain including mountains, rolling prairies and boreal forests.
Today, Calgary-based Over the Top Rentals is providing us snowmobile rookies with a one-stop-shop package that includes the guide and the snowmobiles, trailers, helmets and safety gear. All we need to bring is our outerwear, including jackets, snow pants, boots and gloves.
Technology Making Snowmobiling Easier
I hit the electric start, turn on the handlebar warmers and strike out on the trail with my wife, our small group of friends and our intrepid guide. Snowmobiles have become more comfortable and easier to ride for those new to the sport, although experience with motorized recreational vehicles is a plus.
We’re in the Golden Triangle, a 350 km (217 mi) riding area that has some of the deepest and thickest powder outside of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Sledding some of the trails here will definitely give us bragging rights. Eagle Trail is a beautiful 90-minute ride. Around lunchtime we stop at one of the rest areas with a picnic table and fire pit. It overlooks the Athabasca River and the town of Whitecourt and I slip my helmet off to enjoy the view. The picturesque scene quickly pulls me out of my adrenalin-hyped state and I realized just how hungry I’ve become. Campfire sausages are sounding better and better.
Tips for Newbies
The best way to get to know and enjoy snowmobiling in Alberta is to connect with one of the sledding clubs, which shouldn’t be too hard as there are more than 140,000 snowmobiles in the province. Check out the Alberta Snowmobile Association website for links to clubs, snowmobile rentals, dealers, trail information and snow reports. The province is an attractive snowmobile destination not only because of its variety of trails but also its strong base of volunteers who keep the trails well-tended.
By the time we finish our ride, our bellies are full from lunch along the trail. Our cameras have recorded gorgeous scenery. Our novice skills have been upgraded. And we’ve made new best friends along the way. The plan now is to get out and snowmobile as often as possible.