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Nova Guides leads over 25,000 guests and locals of the Vail Valley and Summit County into the Colorado back country a year. Snowmobiling is rapidly growing in popularity every year, resulting in the increase of the number of people and machines on trails. Snowmobiling and the Colorado back country have many varying conditions and obstacles, which is why Nova Guides greatly stresses the importance of being prepared and snowmobile safety.


Safety starts with being equipped before entering the back country. The proper clothing and safety gear is key. It is recommended to layer clothing that is appropriate for outdoor winter activities. Start by dressing in warm under layers and wool socks, then add protection from the elements with a winter coat appropriate for outdoor recreation. Finish the wardrobe off with waterproof gloves, a neck gaiter, goggles and a helmet. Nova Guides understands that not all guests have the clothing they need for snowmobiling, therefore quilted snowsuits, full face helmets, and snowmobile boots are included in guided tours.


The next step to snowmobile safety is to understand how the machine operates. Every guest that joins Nova Guides on a guided tour or unguided snowmobile rental is informed of the proper techniques to operate the machine. Guests are educated on how to start the machine, proper use of the thumb throttle and brake, and how to steer. It is important for the driver and passenger to keep their feet on the baseboards and hands on the handlebars. Lastly, remember to lean into turns while riding a snowmobile.


Once a guest is fully prepared and educated on the machinery it is time to venture out on trail. The golden rule of snowmobiling is to always stay on trail! Trails are well maintained with feet of packed snow to best accommodate snowmobiles. Veering off trail is unpredictable. Injuries and damages to sleds happen most often when machines leave the trail.


Snowmobile trails follow many of the same rules of the road. Stay to the right of the trail and in a single file line. Slow down while passing oncoming traffic and remember to respect other individuals on trail. Snowmobile trails have led to an increase of other types of outdoor activities. Snowshoers, cross country skiers, and snow cats are just a few different types of recreationalist sharing the same terrain.

Basic knowledge and preparedness is the first step to snowmobile safety. An unbeatable day on trail starts with the appropriate clothing and safety awareness. For additional information visit Colorado Parks & Wildlife.