Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and skating are all wonderful ways to be active and get outdoors in the winter time. And there are some stellar places to do all of that in Canada – there’s no doubt about it! I don’t think we’d ever get tired of shredding, carving and hiking in some crazy white-blanketed landscapes in the Rocky Mountains. But zipping through the wild, backcountry trails in mountainous paradise without breaking a sweat on one of the most gratifying rides is my kind of style. Maybe it’s yours too!
People from across Canada haul their trailers of snowmobiles in the winter, driving for days, JUST to ride their sleds in the heart of the Rockies. Let me tell you that they do it over and over again, year after year, because it’s dang worth the trip. Canada’s got some top notch places to do anything and everything to quench your winter wonderland dream! Nonetheless, snowmobiling in Crowsnest Pass is a one of a kind adventure that cannot go overlooked.
Let me clarify one thing. My husband and I do not own our own snowmobiles. We don’t even have our own sledding helmets! We owe it all to the group we adventured with, the Crow Snow Riders club of snowmobilers, for having us covered. The members and directors are among the most amazing people who made sure we, as newbs to the sport, had everything we needed to set off for the day safely and comfortably.
Our first day in Crowsnest Pass, members Marten and Heath took me and my hubs out to get a few shots and to teach us the basics of operating a sled. We had such a great time our first time on a snowmobile with two of the most patient and encouraging instructors – and they aren’t even trained instructors! They spent time helping us get in the groove of riding a mountain sled, which is a little trickier to operate than a trail sled due to its higher power and ability to tip over. But after a few runs into shrubs and trees, we were starting to get the hang of it.
We spent that first evening not far from the Atlas Staging Area, one of the main open parking lots and assembly points in the Crowsnest Pass region with mighty views not far along the trail. We couldn’t believe the number of potential photo opportunities that popped up in our view right along the snowmobiling route. The view of the valley, the iconic Crowsnest Mountain and other surrounding peaks was so captivating, we couldn’t wait to be back out here the next day with the whole crew.
We met the rest of the members of Crow Snow Riders along with some of their kids the next morning at the Atlas Staging Area and got prepped for the day out in the mountain. The directors got us set up on a couple of their own easygoing trail sleds – mine was a fun Ski-Doo that Marten’s 8-year-old daughter rides – and avalanche transceivers. This is one thing you have to be aware of when snowmobiling in backcountry trails: the areas can be prone to avalanche and they are not uncommon. I urge you to go snowmobiling with an experienced group, never alone, with proper and adequate safety gear. It’s easy to get stuck or lost somewhere in these vast mountains!
Riding the trail sleds was a breeze in comparison to the mountain sleds the day before! We managed to hit 90 km/h on the wide, main road and it was incredibly exhilarating with the craziest backdrop that we would’ve never been able to see without having hopped on these snowmobiles. There is so much that your eyes can capture while riding one of these for a few hours.
We made it on wide, groomed, flat roads, narrow un-groomed trails with mini trees and shrubs in our route, straight uphills and downhills and the adrenaline kicked in throughout. There were times where we just had to look back and catch the sights from where we were on the path. So much ground was covered yet our group still hadn’t crossed paths with anyone else!
It certainly gave us many opportunities for our group to do some awesome stunts on untouched snow. There are miles upon miles of trails in this region of the Rocky Mountains where you could go without hearing, let alone seeing, someone outside of your group. This is as “secluded in the mountains” as it gets without having to sleep overnight in a tent!
We came across a gorgeous meadow in front of the Seven Sisters Mountain and Crowsnest Mountain where the three young boys, aged 10 to 12, rode to their hearts content. They definitely struggled to sit still for a couple of posed shots! So they blew of some steam while the guys prepared a fire for lunch and we captured them having their typical fun Saturday afternoon.
Some of the members have pretty much everything you need to set up a shelter and have food and water to last you a few days if ever they get stranded out here stored right in the seat of their snowmobile. This group is prepared for anything, and watching them prepare a fire out of branches seemed as effortless as turning on a stove. I certainly know who I’d feel safe with if ever we got stuck, and it’s the Crow Snow Riders club members.
After a filling lunch in the meadow by the warm fire, we had one more spot we wanted to hit up per the crew’s recommendation: Window Mountain. Wow, we had no idea there was still so much to see that was so within reach, and we were barely scratching the surface!
Here, the boys went wild and rode their sleds up the white, steep slope of the mountain making it so high up before riding down fearlessly. At the end, Marten offered to show me what it was like to ride with a turbo engine and took me up the mountain too! It was incredible. I definitely don’t recommend a beginner to attempt going so high up but it’s still fantastic to watch other scale these slopes.
Will you be adding snowmobiling in Crowsnest Pass to your winter bucket list?