Tread Lightly Principles:
- Travel and recreate with minimum impact.
- Respect the environment and the right of others.
- Educate yourself, plan and prepare before you go.
- Allow for future use of the outdoors, leave it better than you found it.
- Discover the rewards of responsible recreation.
- Be prepared for the unexpected.
- Always pack travel maps, compass and better yet global positioning system.
- Ride only on designated snowmobile trails or in areas where you’re certain snowmobiling is permitted.
- Check weather forecasts.
- Register your snowmobile - check for special trail permit or registration requirements.
- Top off your gas and oil before departing - take plenty of fuel.
- Make sure you’re completely familiar with the operation and controls of your snowmobile.
- The best teacher is experience.
- Before each trip, inspect and maintain you snowmobile.
Photo by Arden Anderson
- Wear a full-face helmet with face shield.
- Make sure your helmet fits properly.
- Don’t try to save money when buying a helmet.
- Wear gloves that are flexible and warm - consider layering.
- Dress in layers.
- Choose boots that are weatherproof with warm linings & insulated.
- Wear flotation suits if riding on streams, rivers or lakes.
- Some riders use goggles rather than face shields.
- Ride with a partner.
- A cellular phone is smart if there is coverage in the area you are riding in.
- Don’t drink and ride.
- Leave plenty of room to stop.
- Be aware of unmarked hazards or obstacles.
- Play it safe as the daylight changes.
- Don’t ride to the point of exhaustion.
- Ride defensively.
- Watch out for groomers on the trails.
- Watch out for oncoming traffic.
Trail Etiquette - Rules and Common Courtesy:
- Be a courteous rider.
- Keep to the right on the trails.
- It is especially essential to stay to the right when cornering.
- Pass on the left - but only if others are aware of your passing and have waved you on.
- Agree as a group on hand signals.
- Ride single file.
- When stopping along the trail, pull your sleds as far off the trail as possible.
- Ride only where permitted - be a responsible snowmobiler.
- Obey all gate closures.
- Show consideration for others - especially skiers and snowshoers who can't move as fast as you.
- Help keep areas clean by packing out all your trash.
- If you build a fire, pick a location that won’t leave a impact.
- Respect private land - ask permission & stay on the trail.
- Obey all trail signs.
- Park in designated areas at trail heads.
Snowmobiling and the Environment:
- It’s every rider’s responsibility to keep nature as unspoiled as possible by respecting the woods and wildlife.
- Ride only where permitted and not in off-trail areas where you may harm wildlife or vegetation - check your local rules.
- Be aware of wildlife you encounter during your ride - don’t approach or hinder as they move about.
- If you seem animals on the trail, remain a safe distance away - they will move off the trail.
- Don’t scare or chase them away, which will force them to expend precious energy.
- Be respectful of animal habitat where they feed in winter or seek shelter.
- Excessive noise is bothersome to some people and to wildlife.
- Minimize harmful emissions - keep your machine tuned.
- Riding in marginal snow conditions and on exposed soil can cause damage to plants and the soil.
- Ride only where there is adequate snow cover, where young trees and plants are not visible.
- Approach summits with caution
- Don’t ride off cornices
- Avoid riding on frozen waterways
- On lakes and waterways, ride at reduced speeds to optimize your view of potential hazards
- Always cross roadways at a 90-degree angle
- Reduce your speed on the trail when approaching a corner - keep to the right side - don’t slide the sled through the corner
- When a snowmobile takes on a tree, the tree wins - be aware of trees, stumps & branches
- Respect fence boundaries and landowners’ rights - even when the fences are snow-covered
- Keep your feet on the sled when going downhill or riding on wooded trails.
- Don’t lock up your brake when going downhill.
- Lean into turns slightly with your upper body to enhance the sled’s maneuverability.
- Don’t ride double on a snowmobile designed for only one rider.
- Make sure the passenger riding on the back of a double seat leans slightly into turns with the driver.
- Take advantage of having two sets of eyes on board and make sure the passenger is watching for hazards and other snowmobiles.
- If you’re a newcomer, contact a snowmobile dealer or club for instructions or riding tips.
- Pack emergency gear and notify others of the routes you’ll take and when you expect to return
- Your vision is limited to what the snowmobile illuminates so reduce your overall speed and take your time.
- Be especially observant of other snowmobiles road crossings, hazards such as hills and sharp curves, and keep an eye out for nocturnal wildlife
- Snowmobilers can cross paths with animals, don’t over-ride your headlights
- Consider adding reflective tape to jackets, helmets, gloves or mittens so you will be more visible to other riders
- Be sure to ride with a partner when riding at night
- Ride with others, tell friends back home where and how long you’ll be riding and carry a cellular telephone if there is coverage
- Avoid riding unfamiliar trails at night
- Consider packing the following emergency equipment: area maps, GPS unit, waterproof matches or lighter, candles to melt snow for water, flares, a flashlight, a whistle, and a signaling mirror, first-aid kit, space blanket, tow strap, duct tape, rope, knife or multi-purpose tool, shovel, snow shoes, extra gloves, warm hat, bottled water and high-energy food, avalanche transceiver and cellular telephone.
- If a person develops hypothermia, warm them up quickly by rubbing them vigorously and getting them into dry clothes - and giving them warm liquids but not alcoholic beverages
- In case of a breakdown, stay with your sled and stay on the trail
- Avoid avalanches by being informed and avoiding high-risk riding areas
- Take a class on avalanche safety - check with local officials for updated conditions
- Inquire about the likelihood of avalanches
- Avoid riding in potential avalanche areas during or immediately after winter storms
- Know how to make a snow cave for protection & carry necessary tools (shovel)
- Know how to arrange for a helicopter rescue in case of emergency
- Wear an avalanche beeper
- Pack a cellular phone and emergency phone numbers and pack a GPS unit
Snowmobile Equipment Checklist:
- Do a thorough maintenance check before riding
- Be familiar with your machine so you can do basic maintenance & repairs
- Pack a tool kit - screwdriver, wrenches, pliers, wire cutter, spark plug wrench
- Pack a spare drive belt and a few spare spark plugs
- Pack duct tape and strong wire
More Gunnison Links
Created by the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado
Point of Contact: Arden Anderson
Last modified: January 30, 2006