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Top Events In The West

Published online: Jan 12, 2008 Feature
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 Not only do snowmobilers like winter, we look forward to it.

And then when winter does come, we celebrate it by throwing big parties like poker runs and races and charity rides. We look for just about any reason to be in the great outdoors, enjoying our favorite time of year.

Some of the West's top events are well known across the snowbelt and attract hundreds of winter enthusiasts. Others are small affairs with a few dozen. No matter, if you're planning a snowmobile trip somewhere in the West we think it would be worth your while to plan your trip around one of these events.

While we're listing a handful of the West's biggest winter parties, there are other options for finding out what's going on.

State and local snowmobile club events such as poker runs or races are another great way to enjoy an area. To find out if there is snowmobile club event going on where you'd like to ride, go to a state association's webpage and look for the calendar or events page.

 

World Snowmobile Expo

There are two really big snowmobile events in the western Lower 48-the World Snowmobile Expo in West Yellowstone and the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb in Jackson Hole, WY. Traditionally, they happen a week apart so those who want to can hit both with some snowmobiling in between. This year, you'll have a little more time to play between as they are two weeks apart.

The Expo is held the third weekend in March (this year's date is March 13-16, 2008) in West Yellowstone.

There are so many events planned for the weekend you'll be left wondering how you're going to take it all in.

Of course, there is the Expo part, which features all the newest snowmobile models, aftermarket parts and accessories, destinations and a bargain or two. Then there is the snowmobile racing-both snocross and snow drags. The SnoWest SnoCross, sanctioned by Mountain West Racing is the season finale and attracts racers from across the western United States and Canada. The Washington State Snowmobile Racing Association sanctions the snow drags, where you can see just how fast your pony can run. Both races take place at the old airport on the west edge of town. There will also be a vintage snowmobile display at the old airport.

Freestyle sledders will once again take center stage in the City Park with all sorts of tricks that continue to amaze fans.

Don't forget Casino night, plenty of music and great dining all over town. Then there's the snowmobiling. The town's fleet of groomers goes into overtime to make sure the trails are in good shape for those who want to explore the nearly 400 miles of groomed trails outside of town.

The Expo draws between 10,000-13,000 people each year.

For more information, contact www.snowmobileexpo.com.

 

World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb

They don't come any bigger than this-regardless of where you are. If you're only going to get to see one hillclimb, then this is the hillclimb. It's the most famous and one of-if not the-wildest hillcimb you'll ever see. This is one big party on snow.

Annually held in Jackson Hole, WY, the Jackson hillclimb is scheduled for March 27-30 at Snow King Resort's Exhibition Run.

Sanctioned by the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association, the hillclimb attracts more than 10,000 who come to see the world's best hillclimbers rock and sometimes roll. Spectators can either line up at the bottom of Exhibition Run to watch the action or hike up (or take the chairlift to the top and hike down) and line the course's edge to get up close to the racing.

The world's best hillclimbers compete in this race.

Hillclimbing isn't the only action planned during the weekend in Jackson-there are plenty of other events such as racer calcuttas to keep you busy. Several vendors show their wares near the bottom of the hill, giving sledders one more chance at season-ending bargains.

For more information, contact www.jacksonholechamber.com.

 

Winter X Games

This is a made for TV event. Created by ESPN, the Winter X Games throws together non-motorized and motorized winter events together at a major ski resort-Aspen, CO, again this winter-in a four-day snow fest of activities. This season's X Games will be the seventh for Aspen.

This winter's X Games are Jan. 24-27 and the biggest motorized event is the snocross, which attracts the sport's biggest names, each looking for the gold. Tucker Hibbert unseated Blair Morgan last winter for the gold medal, breaking Morgan's streak of wins at five golds.

Snowmobile freestyle jumping was added to the Winter X Games last January with Chris Burandt winning the inaugural gold medal.

For more information, contact http://expn.go.com.

 

TransMontana Snowmobile Charity Ride

If you want to participate in a great snowmobile ride and do some good while snowmobiling, then consider the Transmontana ride.

Sponsored by the Montana Snowmobile Association and supported by Teva Neuroscience, the six-day, 500-mile ride starts at the Canadian border north of Eureka, MT, and ends at Raynolds Pass just outside of West Yellowstone. The ride begins Jan. 20 and ends Jan. 25. Sledders can ride all or part of the 500 miles.

The proceeds from Transmontana 2008 goes to the Northwest Region of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America to help fund programs to ease the challenges of individuals in Montana with multiple sclerosis.

To participate there is a registration fee as well as pledges to support those with multiple sclerosis.

For more information, contact Rene Kempa (406) 771-7371.

 

Tesoro Iron Dog

If you want to really find out what you're made of, you enter the Tesoro Iron Dog snowmobile race-the most grueling cross country race on the planet. The rest of us prefer to watch the action.

Teams of two racers cover a monstrous 1,971-mile course from Wasilla, AK, to Nome and then on to Fairbanks. As of press time, a record number of Pro teams-38-had signed up for the 2008 race, which begins in Wasilla Feb. 10. The race is scheduled to end Feb. 16 in Fairbanks. Racers leave Wasilla, race to several checkpoints/towns on their way to Nome and then head back west to Fairbanks, all the while traveling through Alaska's backcountry. This year's race purse is $75,000.

There are lots of places along the race route where spectators can catch a glimpse of the passing racers and keep track of their progress.

For more information, contact www.irondog.org.

 

Arctic Man

An Alaska original that has become a must see for anyone who likes something a little out of the ordinary is the Arctic Man Ski & Sno-Go Classic. When was the last time you saw 13,000 or so people drive in the winter to essentially the middle of nowhere to watch snowmobilers and downhill skiers compete in teams racing at insane speeds?

That's the Arctic Man.

Held near Summit, AK, the Arctic Man is April 9-13, 2008 and combines snowmobile racing with downhill skiing. Here's how it works. A skier begins at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drops 1,700 feet in less than two miles to the bottom of a narrow canyon where he/she meets up with a snowmobiling partner. Of course, the snowmobiler is on the go, hands a tow rope to the skier and pulls the skier 2.25 miles at speeds up to 86 mph. The snowmobiler and skier then separate, whipping the skier over the side of a second mountain, with the skier dropping 1,200 feet to the finish line. The best do all this in a little more than four minutes.

Add to the racing fun the fact that there is some great snowmachining in the area and this is gone great vacation. Plans call for a hillcross as well this year.

For more information, contact www.arcticman.com.

 

Tok To Dawson City International Poker Run

Now this is a poker run to remember.

What started out as a small (in size, not length) club event has turned into a famous ride from Tok, AK, to Dawson City, Yukon Territory. The event's popularity has necessitated the ride going from just one to three.

The dates for the 2008 runs are: Feb. 21-24; Feb. 28-March 2 and March 6-9. Each ride begins in Tok and travels 200 miles (each way) to Dawson City, where riders spend three nights before returning to Tok. While in the Yukon, riders are treated to banquets, scenic snowmobile rides and plenty of entertainment.

For more information, contact www.alaskatrailblazers.com.

 

Other Options

 

Here is a handful of other option you might want to take a look at:

Mountain West Racing www.mountainwestracing.com. The circuit offers a full schedule of snocross racing in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Oregon.

Western Snowmobile Racing www.wsrracing.com. Several race events take place in California and Nevada.

Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association www.rmsha.com. This circuit sanctions professional hillclimbs across the West.

Washington State Snowmobile Racing Association www.wssra.com. This circuit focuses on snowmobile drags.

Alaska Motor Mushers Club www.ammcracing.com. This group offers something for everyone, including vintage, hillcross, snocross, hillclimb and cross country racing.

Valdez Snowmachine Club www.valdezsnow.com. The club offers snocross and hillclimb competitions.

X-Treme Mountain Racing www.xmrracing.com. XMR replaces the Mountain States Snowmobile Racing circuit and offers snocrosses in Colorado and Wyoming.

Alcan 200 www.alcan200.org. Another big cross country race in Alaska and Canada. The race is scheduled for Jan. 19