Snowmobilers take Craig by storm

The mountains surrounding Craig will become a polar playground for snowmobilers from all throughout the state starting Thursday.

The Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Association (NOWECOS) is hosting the annual Colorado Snowmobilers Association (CSA) convention Thursday through Sunday.

The event is expected to bring more than 150 snowmobilers to Craig. The last time the convention was held in Craig was 1988. While there will be business conducted at the convention, such as electing new officers for next year and a guest speaker on avalanche safety, participants will also ride the trails surrounding Craig to balance out the trip.

Joe Tonso, NOWECOS board member, is excited the convention will be in Craig this year.

"It is a lot of fun," said Tonso. "We kind of get to show off our area. We're hoping they will like what they see and come back and visit on their own."

If Dave Watson, NOWECOS member and Owner of High Country Sports, is correct, riders should be impressed with what Northwest Colorado has to offer. Watson said NOWECOS has been working hard to keep the trails in top shape.

"We have been grooming the trails all week," said Watson. "Trail conditions should be excellent. The big loop from Black Mountain into California Park and Slater Park has been groomed twice this week."

Once the convention is over there will still be plenty of riders in town. Craig will be the starting point of the Colorado Tour this year. The tour is a group of riders who travel across the state by snowmobile each year. The route is designed so riders can get to lodging each night. The tour should bring another 50 riders into Craig.

The snowmobiler invasion will be felt by local businesses. Riders will hit Craig businesses to stock up on just about everything, according to Watson.

"I'll end up selling some oil, plugs and a few parts, but it will help the whole town," said Watson. "People will need to buy lunches, they will go to restaurants and Kmart and they will also need gasoline."

All-day rides scheduled throughout the convention should burn a lot of gasoline. When convention participants aren't sitting on a sled, they will be sitting at a table. The CSA has a prime rib dinner planned for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Holiday Inn and continental breakfasts scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Mikki Stoltzfus, Holiday Inn manager, said the hotel is sold out this weekend in part due to the convention. There is also a hockey team and a wrestling team that will be lodging at the Holiday Inn.

"There will be 50 or 60 snowmobilers staying with us this year," said Stoltzfus. "They are a great bunch of people. We look forward to seeing them every year. They come here every year to enjoy the snow and the outdoors that Craig has to offer. We are excited to have them back."

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