Michigan DNR offers first free snowmobiling weekend

What's happening: On February 11-12, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hosting its first-ever free snowmobiling weekend. The program will allow both residents and out-of-state riders to travel the trails across both peninsulas, which will either encourage past riders to try out the sport again or to travel to Michigan and enjoy the area.

Economic impact: Upper Peninsula businesses are expected to get a big boost from the weekend, with numerous riders expected to make the trip. Border areas near Wisconsin are also expected to see additional “day use” traffic from riders taking a short trip across the state line. Most rides see snowmobilers operate out of one central hub before taking trails to remote areas, with unique restaurants, views and experiences, so no one municipality makes a majority of snowmobile tourism money.

While trail permits and registrations are not required, other snowmobile safety rules and regulations — including the state’s recreation passport to access certain state lands — are still in effect.   

What they're saying: “Getting into these sort of back woods areas, are really beautiful to see. You get to see wildlife, but also lakes and forest and bridges. All kinds of little things that you otherwise wouldn’t know existed,” said John Pepin, deputy public information officer for the DNR.

What's next: State officials are reminding riders to “Ride Right,” the Michigan DNR snowmobile safety program. With additional riders on the trails, Pepin said that it’s more important to follow safety guidelines for the betterment of other snowmobilers.
“Essentially what (Ride Right) means is riding on the right side of the trail, so you’re not coming around a corner and encountering oncoming sleds,” he said. “But we also extend it to mean riding sober and riding at a speed that is comfortable for your abilities.”