With over 5,000 km of trails in Alberta featuring a wide variety of scenic terrain, snowmobiling has become a popular activity in the winter months. With more than 140,000 snowmobiles registered in the area, many people consider it to be one of the most adrenaline-pumping, action-packed winter activities available. Often, snowmobile enthusiasts start out by trying a guided tour, then renting a snowmobile on their own, followed by joining a club through the Alberta Snowmobile Association (ASA) and buying a snowmobile.
Snowmobile Tours and Rentals
The most popular areas for guided tours and rentals in Alberta are in the Banff National Park boundaries, in the Golden Triangle Trail (which connects with Whitecourt, Food Creek and Swan Hills) and Grand Prairie. Tours are available in Alberta Central, Alberta North and Alberta South, including from Calgary. Travel packages for snowmobiling with accommodations can be found on many websites, including the Travel Alberta website.
When you hire a tour company, you have the option to rent the snowmobile and safety gear, take a safety-training class, and meet with a guide who can help you navigate through the trails. Insurance is typically for the snowmobile only, unless you request additional coverage. Half-day, full-day and advanced guided tour options are available from the tour operators in addition to private tours. Once you have rented a snowmobile a few times, you may become interested in buying a snowmobile and joining a club.
Purchasing a Snowmobile
If you are in the market to buy a snowmobile, you can buy one new or used from a licensed dealer. You should follow the same guidelines in buying a snowmobile as you would when buying a car or boat. If you are buying one used, be sure to have it inspected by a mechanic to ensure it has been properly cared for.
In addition to determining whether to buy a new or used snowmobile, you will need to decide the engine size, options and whether to accommodate seating for one or two-persons. Your available choices will also depend on your comfort level driving and your intended use. Common types purchased by recreational users include:
- Entry-level or trail model (relatively inexpensive and may have an electric start)
- Touring (may accommodate up to two individuals comfortably with a backrest)
- Performance (higher horsepower and often has a reverse gear and electric start)
- Mountain (to ride hillside in mountainous terrain and through heavy powder)
- Crossover (for on and off the trails).
Once you buy a snowmobile, you will need to have it registered and insured in order to use the vehicle in a public place. You will need at least $1 million in public liability and property damage by law, but $2 million is considered standard coverage. By speaking to a licensed insurance broker, you can obtain snowmobile insurance in Edmonton for your vehicle and speak to a broker to understand the coverage options available.
A driver must be 14 years of age to operate the machine independently and anyone under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult or supervised closely while receiving instruction. A licence plate must be attached visibly on the front or rear of the snowmobile. Some knowledge of how to maintain your sled will also be useful.
Maintaining Your Snowmobile
At the end of each season, you’ll need to maintain and store your snowmobile. If anything looks worn, damaged or missing upon inspection, it is important to repair or replace it before you ride. A maintenance checklist of what to do before heading out in the new season is provided here:
- Look for cracks in the body, deteriorated hood latches and windshield fasteners. As well, any tears or nicks in the seat covers should be repaired.
- Check to ensure that the skis and runners are straight and not worn excessively. Repair any bent skis, holes, cuts or gouges.
- Drain any old fuel before adding fresh gasoline. Gas left in your snowmobile over the summer may have gone bad or be compromised with water.
- Clean the carburetor. Follow instructions in your owner’s manual, using a can of carburetor cleaner and some basic tools.
- Check the drive belts and replace those that are worn or damaged, packing a spare belt for whenever you ride.
- Lubricate all fittings as indicated in your owner’s manual.
- Check the track tension and the track itself for any tears, rubbing or missing lugs or missing track clips. If the track is torn, it needs to be replaced.
- The throttle, brake, hydraulic and oil cables should be fastened securely and checked for excess wear or damage.
- Replace the chain case oil and be sure to fill your injection oil, coolant, brake fluid levels according to the specifications in your owner’s manual.
- Check the pull cord to ensure it isn’t frayed.
- Make sure the headlights and tail lights are in good working order.
- Check your owner’s manual for anything specific to your particular snowmobile.
If you’re not sure how to perform any of these maintenance steps, contact a trained mechanic. You want to ensure that your snowmobile is safe and ready for a trouble-free season of fun on the snow.
Obtaining Snowmobile Insurance in Edmonton
Obtaining snowmobile insurance will help you get the most out of snowmobiling season in Edmonton and throughout Alberta. It will also protect you from the financial costs of repairing a damaged sled, including when damage is caused by an uninsured or underinsured snowmobiler. By speaking to an insurance broker at our Edmonton office today, you will learn how insurance will also protect you and your riders if you have an accident involving damage, injury or death.
At MBS Insurance, we can add your snowmobile insurance to a pre-existing automobile insurance policy.
Contact us today for a free quote at 780-436-7880.