News release: Minnesota DNR shares reminders about the upcoming snowmobile riding season

November 30, 2023

As the snowmobile riding season draws near, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds riders of important dates, safety tips and registration requirements. The current lack of snow cover means that Minnesota’s snowmobile trails will not be usable by the official opening date of Dec. 1. Several conditions must be met before trails are open, groomed and ready for travel:

  • The ground must be frozen. Where trails cross wetlands, 15 inches of ice are needed to support the weight of trail groomers.
  • Adequate snow cover of about 12 inches must be on the ground to allow for trail packing and grooming.
  • Trails must be cleared of fallen trees, signs put in place and gates opened.

While snowmobilers await the arrival of snow and groomed trails, now is a good time to make sure registrations are current and snowmobiles are in good operating order, review safety training, and check local trail maps for route changes or new trails.

Registrations for new snowmobiles must be purchased in person at a deputy registrar of motor vehicles or at the DNR License Bureau in St. Paul. Renewals of registrations and out-of-state trail stickers can be handled in person or on the DNR’s licenses and vehicle registrations website.

Local trail conditions are often posted online by tourism associations, chambers of commerce and volunteer snowmobile clubs. To find the nearest club, visit the Minnesota United Snowmobiler’s Association website.

Important snowmobile riding safety tips include:

  • Be weather aware and don't ride in adverse weather conditions.
  • Check the DNR snow depth and groomed trail conditions webpage before leaving home.
  • Measure ice depth before riding on lakes and rivers. The DNR recommends a minimum of 5 to 7 inches of new, clear ice for snowmobiles.
  • Always stay on designated snowmobile trails. Venturing off trails can result in accidents.
  • Don't drink alcohol and ride. Alcohol is a factor in more than 60% of fatal accidents in Minnesota.
  • Always wear a quality DOT-approved helmet and facemask.

An interactive snowmobile trail map can be found on the DNR’s snowmobiling website. Paper trail maps can be requested from the DNR Information Center. Email [email protected] or call 888-646-6367 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

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