Thirty-five miles an hour never felt faster…or colder. Racing up hill on the back of the snowmobile to catch-up with the group brought tears to my eyes. Not because I was scared or sad we were behind, but the mountain wind was slapping my face with its massive force. I held on and leaned right, then left trying to keep my eyes open to see the spectacular mountain views as we headed up the Continental Divide.
Earlier that morning we had dropped the kids off at school and then headed to Winter Park for a two-hour snowmobile tour with Grand Adventures Snowmobile Tours. It’s the only company in Grand County that provides an adventure tour to the Continental Divide.
Our group was small, only five snowmobiles…and ours just happen to be the one that decided to break down that morning. Only 15 minutes into the ride the snowmobile stalled forcing our guide and The Husband to race down the trail to grab another one. The rest of the group took off to continue up the mountain, leaving me and the broken snowmobile on the side of the trail.
It was short-lived though, Henry, our guide and The Husband were back in less than 10 minutes and we were off to catch the rest of the group. This is when the fun really began…since we were in catch-up mode we didn’t go the “group speed limit” (about 25 mph), it was full throttle down and hold on tight. I have to admit, the sheer speed going along the trail was exhilarating…and then we caught up. And we slowed down.
We made it mid-point up the mountain and changed drivers. It was now my turn. The Husband had to take the backseat. That didn’t stop him from driving though, or rather backseat driving. Fortunately, the wind limited my ability to hear him but his hand on my back would ever so slightly direct me as to which way to lean. There was no escaping his relentless backseat driving so I didn’t try. I leaned right. Left. All the while climbing above the tree-line, reaching the top of the Continental Divide. The views at 12,000 feet and sheer beauty of the mountain range had now fully occupied my backseat driver. The only thing I could hear was the roar of the snowmobile.
Our group came to a large open bowl above timberline and we jumped off our snowmobiles to soak in the views and snap a few photos. During this “break” Henry, our guide, gave the group a short history and geographical lesson on the area. He also acted as the group photographer.
We had followed the Historic Moffat railroad route (the bridge pictured below is part of the railroad) to Corona Pass, and topped out at nearly 12,000 feet. We were surrounded by spectacular views of the Winter Park Resort and the Fraser Valley.
This had been our first time to ride a snowmobile so we were unsure what to expect on the Grand Adventures Snowmobile Tour. I have to be honest, it was an amazing experience and one I highly recommend. Riding along the spine of the Continental Divide is pretty much an experience you just can’t have anywhere else. (If you’re visiting in the summer months, and have the stamina you should hike Corona Pass to see these views.)
Drivers: To operate a snowmobile, customers must have a valid driver’s permit or license with their picture on it and be at least 15-years-old. Minors must be accompanied by their parent otherwise a waiver must be sent before the tour date, signed by the guardian and notarized.
Kids: This is a great family activity. Adults can drive the snowmobile while the kids relax (or scream) in the back, passenger seat. Kids must be at least four-years-old to ride on the back. Parents need to sign the waiver for children under 18. If an adult has an under 18-year-old child who is not their child – the child’s parents need to sign and notarize the waiver for the adult to bring with them.
GoPro: If you have one, take it. Many of the helmets Grand Adventures Snowmobile Tours provides have holders. However, we were told that to maximize your battery you should plan to turn it on the decent since it’s a faster, more interesting ride. Now, having done the ride I fully agree.
LISTEN UP: Before we began the ride, our guide went through the details of how to operate the snowmobile. This was the time to really listen and pay attention so you could properly maneuver the snowmobile. I found him to be a little intimidating during this process. Henry was very serious, with the attitude of don’t screw up and you better not mess up my machines. It was kinda like the first day of sixth-grade English class with the “mean teacher” who turned out to be the coolest teacher EVER. She, like our guide, just didn’t put up with people who weren’t going to follow the rules of the trail. It worked and then he turned into the happy, funny guide he is for the remaining hour and 45 minutes.
What to Wear on a Snowmobile Tour: Helmets and boots are provided. Winter suits are available for $6 if needed. You will need to bring gloves, goggles, and a scarf or face mask. You can wear sunglasses but goggles will prevent your eyes from watering as you zip along the trail.
Location: Grand Adventures Snowmobile Tours is located in the Winter Park Mountain Lodge at 81699 US HWY 40, Winter Park Colorado.
Reservations: You will need to book your Grand Adventures Snowmobile Tours in advance. There are limited tours and the groups are small so plan ahead. You can call or book snowmobile tours online.
Side note: As for our snowmobile “breaking down” we had driven over something and while we waited for the group to catch-up it melted onto the wheel causing it to stall. It wasn’t something anyone could have controlled and Henry was on top of getting everything fixed ASAP.