The harbinger of winter is present with falling snow and cooler temperatures. It's time to get the snowmachine out of storage, gas it up and drive into the winter recreational season.
Craig is surrounded by an abundance of snowmobile trails and trailheads that take snowmobilers into the back county of the Black Mountain and California Park areas. The trailheads are located about 11 miles north of Craig on Highway 13. Entrance into the Beaver Flattops and the Baldly Mountain area are located 15 miles north of Craig on Highway 13.
"There are over a hundred miles of marked groomed trails throughout northwest Colorado," Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club (NOWECOS) representative, Joe Tonso said. "Black Mountain, Freeman and Wilderness Ranch have graveled parking lots."
The elaborate snowmobile trails can reach various heights from 7,000 to 10,000 feet and different snow depths from four to ten feet. These trails go though steep mountain and high country pine stands. As the elevations lower, the trails pass over rolling hills, open parks and empty meadows. At these lower elevations, elk, deer and antelope can be seen during the winter months.
Dave Watson owner of High Country Sports said the local snowmobile trail system expands beyond the Craig area for the more adventuresome rider.
"A person can ride a snow machine from the southern end of Colorado to the Wyoming border," he said.
NOWECOS is a club snowmobilers can join to meet other snowmobilers. The group rides together on the second and fourth Sunday of each month and also goes on two overnight rides during the season.
NOWECOS is responsible for grooming over one hundred miles of trail throughout northwest Colorado. The money raised for general maintenance of equipment to groom the trails, gas and oil, comes from a $15.25 member registration fee. All but $0.25 of the fee is donated to the State of Colorado and is given back to the club upon request. The remaining $0.25 is deposited to a search and rescue fund.
"If club members are lost and a search and rescue is called to find them, they pay nothing," Tonso said.
For more information about joining the club call Rod Lighthizer 824-3938.
With the advent of high tech snow machines and influx of tourists in the winter time, people are traveling farther into the back country to get away from it all. Snowmobilers should be aware of the inherent dangers involved in exploring the backwoods of area national forests.
Avalanches are imminent, especially in back country areas and snow travelers should recognize and understand where and when avalanches occur, NOWECOS member Ron Spencer said.
When shopping for a new sled this season, area dealers offer their opinions on what to buy.
Z's Motorsports sells top of the line snow mobiles like Arctic Cat, employee Mike Zimmerman said. The Mountain Cat 600 is a favorite among snowmobilers this season according to Zimmerman. It has unique features like, electronic fuel injection, which automatically adjust to the different altitudes, 136-inch track and 2-inch paddle tracks. The machine has a 12-gallon tank capacity, has a dry weight 508 pounds and comes with hand and thumb warmers. The 600 can reach speeds around 90 plus m.p.h.
"Mountain Cat 600 sells well because of the electronic fuel injection and it's low maintain," Zimmerman said.
High Country Sports carries Ski-doo. The Summit 800 is their big seller this year The machine is designed for power, high altitudes, mountain climbing and deep snow, owner Dave Watson said. The Summit has unique features like, digital performance management, the closest thing to fuel injection with a carburetor. It automatically adjusts the carburetor to different altitudes. It has 151 inch track and 2 inch paddles. The sled comes with a side-hill bar, 10.6 gallon capacity, Digital Encoded Security System and hand and thumb warmers.
"Bombardier tested these machines at high altitudes, in Colorado for two years," Watson said.
With the recent dump of fresh fluffy snow and the hundreds of miles of trail in northwest Colorado just waiting to be torn up, there's little doubt that area snowmachiners are chomping at the bit to get out there and ride.