Take a powder on a snowmobile trip | PostIndependent.com

Take a powder on a snowmobile trip

Greg Masse

“This is no pony ride,” guide Clem Lundberg warned a Florida couple Thursday as they readied themselves for a day-long snowmobile tour.

And he wasn’t kidding.

The snowmobiles used for Sunlight Mountain Resort’s tours are high-powered machines that will go about as fast as most people could ever want to go – and then some.

Up steep hills, around sharp curves and across deep snow, the tours take customers to places seldom seen on foot, ski or four wheel drive.

Lundberg started the tour by explaining to St. Petersburg, Fla., residents Tom and Karla Rissmiller how the machines are turned on and operated, how to steer and balance while making turns and showing them some of the hand signals he’d be using during the trip.

At the outset, it took a little getting used to, but after about 10 minutes, the tour was up to cruising speed.

“It was easier than I thought,” Karla Rissmiller said. “I thought you’d have to know better how to maneuver, but you don’t.”

Her husband, Tom, agreed.

“A lot of people probably think you have to know what you’re doing, but you don’t,” he said.

Guided snowmobile tours in the hills next to Sunlight started in the winter of 1989-90 as Rocky Mountain Sports. Since its inception, the business has grown to 20 snowmobiles. Sunlight now owns the business and Lundberg manages it.

“I used to own this business, but I sold it to Sunlight,” Lundberg said. “We’ve developed it into what you see here today.”

The trips run anywhere from mellow to thrilling, depending on the customers’ preference. Despite the lack of snow in Florida, the Rissmillers were ready for a fast, powdery adventure Thursday, with very little slowing down.

The trips run twice a day – 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. – seven days a week from around Thanksgiving until around Easter.

“We’ll end up with about 25 people today,” Lundberg said.

The cost is $110 per person, or $165 for two people on one snowmobile.

There are four full-time guides and one part-timer running the operation.

“I’ve got a really good crew,” Lundberg said.

He runs the trip on the Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail, cutting through some of the most magnificent and untouched scenery in the state.

“I don’t know why Glenwood isn’t a snowmobiling Mecca,” Lundberg said. “With the Flat Tops and the Grand Mesa, it’s just great.”

The tour stops at Elk Park and Tri-County Point – the meeting point of Mesa, Garfield and Pitkin Counties – and snow riders can roar through the “Pipeline” and speed across powder-filled Baylor Park.

The stop at Baylor Park is one of the most popular parts of the trip because snowmobilers are set free to speed across a big open snowfield that’s groomed by the Mt. Sopris Recreational Riders, the local snowmobiling club.

“You get to see scenery, you get to play on your own,” Lundberg said. “We’ve got a little bit of everything going.”

Also, in contrast to some of the more popular snowmobiling areas in Wyoming and other places, the temperatures and general conditions on the Sunlight to Powderhorn trail are warmer and sunnier.

But just in case it’s cloudy and cold, there are electric hand and thumb warmers on the hand grips.

“A lot of people can’t ski, so this is a great alternative,” Lundberg said. “It’s easy to learn, while skiing could take a couple of days.”

Walk-in tours are sometimes available, but reservations are recommended. For information, call Sunlight Mountain Resort at 945-7491 or 1-800-445-7931.

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