Snowmobiling Grand Lake: The Snowmobile Capital of Colorado

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by Jack Welch,
BRC Special Projects Consultant
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The Pedersens at the Idleglen trailhead, jazzed up and ready to go.
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Kensey Pedersen pauses for a picture at the trailhead.
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Jack Welch and Katie Pedersen stop to view Grand Lake.

I have snowmobiled in Colorado for over forty years and the first place I snowmobiled using my 1968 Sears Snow Cruiser was at Grand Lake, Colorado. Their trail system was great then, and it, of course, was even better this last December. Their system of trails, play areas and hills to climb provides something for every type of rider! Maybe that is why Grand Lake has aquired the title of Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado.

The Grand Lake snowmobile area is located just 100 miles west of Denver. It is easy to get to using I70, US 40 and US 34. The town of Grand Lake and Grand County treat snowwmobilers very special. Here are examples of that special treatment: First, if you stay in the town of Grand Lake, or choose to unload there, you can ride your snowmobile on the city streets and most county roads just like an automobile. In other words, you can park your vehicle and use your snowmobile as your only source of transportation. Second, the town holds many special activities for snowmobilers, such as Poker Runs, Bon Fire/night cookout rides and special fireworks on New Year's Eve.

The Grand Lake trail system can be accessed by either the idlegate trailhead/parking area or one of several parking areas in the town of Grand Lake. On my family trip in December, I parked at the Idleglen Parking area. This is a great place to start a day trip because it has an information kiosk, restrooms and good plowed parking. I should note, if you unload at Idleglenn Trailhead be sure to have your machines fueled and take a lunch if you plan to be gone all day. The nearest food and fuel are in the town of Grand Lake.

This year's December holiday trip started at Idleglen and included what I call the "Loop," starting from Idleglenn, through Whiskey Park to North Supply, with a stop at "On the Trail Snowombile Rentals" to see their new operation, then on to Pony Park; from there, the loop continues around Gravel Mountain, a stop at Super Chicken Hill, then back to Idleglenn trailhead. The total distance was about 40 miles and with stops and lunch break, took about two hours. This year my nephew, Evan Pedersen and two of his daughters, Katie and Kinsey, joined us on this adventure. It was a great start to the 2007-2008 snowmobile season.

There are over a hundred miles of groomed and marked trails in the Grand Lake system. A map is available online (www.sharetrails.org/fwd/mp108). New this year, the snowmobile trail map has GPS coordinates for additional reference. As mentioned earlier, the terrain on the Grand Lake system offers every kind of riding experience you can imgine. There are miles of well-groomed and marked trails, many play areas, hills to climb and, of course, excellent views of the Continental Divide, Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake, Lake Granby, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

This trail system is maintained by Grand Lake Trail Groomer INC. Additional information can be obtained by calling the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce at 970-627- 3402 or 970-627-3372. For up to date information on trail conditions at Grand Lake go the Colorado Snowmobile Association's website of www.coloradosledcity.com and click on Grand Lake. Please note: in order to snowmobile in Colorado, trail permits are required by Colorado law. These Colorado snowmobile user fees, for both residents and nonresidents, provide for the grooming and marking trails.Information on Colorado snowmobile trail permits are available by calling 303-791-1920 or going online (http://parks.state.co.us/OHVsandSnowmobiles). In addition, for snowmobile rental information for "On the Trails Snowmobile Rental" call 1-888-627-2429 or visit them online (www.onthetrailrentals.com).

--Questions or comments regarding this article should be directed to the BlueRibbon Coalition: 4555 Burley Drive,Suite A, Pocatello, ID 83202. Phone: 208-237-1008, Fax: 208-237-9424. Email address: .

NOTE: A trail map for this ride is available online (www.sharetrails.org/fwd/mp108)

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