Snowmobilers looking for a destination to shred some fresh tracks should look no further than Montrose, Colo., according to local experts. Some trails are groomed, but the majority of the rides around Montrose are done off-trail among the area’s 882,760 acres of public lands.
There are several things that “sled heads” look for in a snowmobiling vacation destination, according to Jeff Anderson, snowmobile guru and owner of Country Lodge. He says Montrose fits the bill on every checklist item. “For those who are active in the sport, have their own machine, and are looking for a great place to ride, it just doesn’t get much better than Montrose,” says Anderson. “People find it hard to believe that you can travel this far south and still experience mountain powder, but it’s true!”
Here are five reasons why Montrose is a premier snowmobiling escape.
- Vast Opportunities for Fresh Snow
There are hundreds of thousands of acres of snow to rip through within a one-hour drive of Montrose. Black Mesa, with an average of 500 inches of snow per year, is an hour away and offers groomed trails and thousands of acres of meadows, pine and spruce forests. The 1.5 million acre Uncompahgre Plateau is just 30 minutes from Montrose and peaks at 10,300 feet above sea level. With wide open spaces, this area boasts great intermediate riding on groom and un-groomed trails. Grand Mesa – one of the world’s largest flat-topped mountains – boasts the 123-mile-long Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail (“SP” for short), the longest snowmobile trail in the lower 48. (Rumor has it that Arctic Cat uses Grand Mesa as its top-secret test site for its new snowmobiles!)
- No Crowds
“I’ve been to other destinations where hundreds of people are vying for space to ride, and it just takes the fun out of the experience,” notes Anderson. He adds that because Montrose is more undiscovered, and because there are hundreds of trails to choose from, the crowds just aren’t an issue. “You can go all day without seeing another snowmobile track.”
- Access to Parts
Fortunately, all of the major snowmobile manufacturers are represented in Montrose, which is important in a sport where machines often take a beating. “When you’re out with your buddies, 1,800 miles from home, and your machine breaks down, you need access to parts, and Montrose has it,” Anderson explains.
- Affordable Lodging
In Montrose snowmobilers can take advantage of the off-season rate during the wintertime. Lodging options range from hotel chains to local bed and breakfasts, and everything in between. Designed to cater to snowmobilers, Country Lodge offers ample parking for trucks and trailers, a loading ramp, a heated garage for tinkering, a sack lunch for the trail, an outdoor hot tub, and an onsite laundry room.
- Good Weather & Extended Season
Since Montrose sits in a valley, the weather can be warm, sunny and dry in town, but turn to a mountain powder-scape with 500 inches of snow in just under an hour drive. “You really have to see it to believe it!” exclaims Anderson. The snowmobiling season typically starts in December and continues through mid-April, with the most predictable conditions between Christmas and mid-March.
Montrose is a uniquely-authentic town that has carved out a place for itself in the landscape and culture of Colorado. Montrose is the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison where the North Vista Trail was recently named a “Top 10 Canyon Hike in the U.S. Parks” by National Geographic. Additionally, Montrose was named to Outdoor Life’s annual list of the 200 best towns in America for outdoorsmen. Seventy-three percent of the land surrounding Montrose is public land, making it a Mecca for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, road biking, four-wheeling and mountain biking in the summer and fall and snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.