Winter may be thawing out at lower elevations, but it is holding strong at the peaks of the mountains. Take advantage of snow, speed, and sights from up to 12,500 feet in elevation on a snowmobile tour. Or, rent a snowmobile and follow trails on your own.
Our favorite outfitter is Nova Guides, located at Camp Hale. They offer fun and knowledgeable guides, seemingly endless terrain in the White River National Forest, and views from the top of the Continental Divide.
Constructed in 1942 and decommissioned in 1945, Camp Hale was a training ground for perfecting mountain warfare techniques. The elite troops who trained there were some of the first of the present-day United States Army’s 10th Mountain Division. Troops endured freezing temperatures and fierce winter storms as they practiced mountain climbing, alpine and Nordic skiing, and cold weather-survival tactics at an altitude of 9,200 feet. Troops were recruited primarily from colleges and ski clubs, with the thought that it might be easier to train warfare skills than ski techniques. This first group was deployed in World War II to the mountains of Italy and Austria. Although Camp Hale hasn’t been used for training for decades, the 10th Mountain Division is a point of pride for Coloradans and the modern-day division has been involved in many important missions including Operation Desert Storm and Hurricane Andrew relief efforts.
Our Favorite Tours
Had enough of the history lesson? Let’s talk tours.
Nova Guides offers two tours: Tigiwon and Top of the Rockies ½ day.
Tigiwon is best suited for families with younger children or those who want to take things a bit slower. This is a two hour out-and-back tour, meaning you will be on the same trail coming back as you are going out. You will reach elevations up to 10,500 feet and get an amazing view of Vail’s Back Bowls. Plus, there is a cocoa and cookie stop!
Top of the Rockies is the tour for thrill seekers. You go a little faster, a lot farther and a lot higher. The trail is a loop, so you won’t see the same thing twice. Your reward for signing up for a 4 hour tour is the view from the top of the Continental Divide. (Feast your eyes on the 2nd picture at the top of this post).
Additional tours are available, including high performance and all-day tours with lunch.
You also have the option to rent a snowmobile and venture off by yourself. Although you do not need previous experience, we recommend taking a tour if this is your first encounter with snowmobiles. These machines are powerful and a lot of fun! After a quick safety briefing and a little map familiarization, you are off!
*Tip: We know it’s tempting to explore, but stay on the trail. If you get stuck and need help getting out of a snowbank, you face a hefty rescue fee.
Drivers: must be 14 years or older
Passengers: recommended to be 9 years or older on the Top of the Rockies, 2 years or older on Tigiwon.
*Tip: It is tons of fun to drive your own snowmobile, but being the passenger isn’t so bad. You just hold on and enjoy the heated seat! The driver gets to enjoy heated handle bars, but not the fancy heated seat.
Tigiwon: $170 per driver, $55 per passenger. Kids 8 and under are free!
Top of the Rockies: $260-270 per driver, $60-70 per passenger depending on the tour time.
Rentals: 2 hours, $150+, 3 hours $190+, 4 hours $220+. Base prices are for MXZ Sport 600 snowmobiles and go higher based on the performance level of the snowmobile you choose.
Door-to-door transportation is included in tour prices. Transportation is not included if you are renting and going out on your own.
*Tip: You do need to specify that you need transportation. Nova Guides picks up right outside the main entrance of The Inn at Riverwalk.
What to Wear and Bring
Although you are welcome to wear your own snow gear, Nova Guides has most of it is available to rent at no extra cost. They have one piece snow suits, boots and helmets. You do have to wear their helmets, but are not required to use any of their other gear.
Be sure to bring gloves, a gator or protective neck covering and sunglasses or goggles. Wear warm, comfortable, quick-wick clothing underneath your snow suit. We suggest bringing a warm change of clothes for after your tour.
*Tip: There are cubbies inside the lodge where you can leave your things, but they don’t lock. We recommend leaving the valuables at home.
Do you have something you want to share or add to our blog? Call or email The Inn at Riverwalk any time! (970) 926-0606 x251 / firstname.lastname@example.org