Deep snow, groomed trails, no crowds-these are three of the top features associated with Island Park, ID.
A perennial Top 5 best snowmobiling destination on SnoWest Magazine's Top 15 Trails in the West annual survey, this winter mecca in eastern Idaho is well-known within the snowmobiling community. However, along with what it offers its winter visitors, Island Park is also known for being the home of the Fugowees, a friendly, down-home snowmobile club that welcomes literally anyone and everyone.
About four times a winter the Fugowees get together for a ride to one of the area's popular destinations-Two Top, Mesa Falls, Big Springs, etc. The rides usually involve a group of 20-plus riders, although the Fugowees have a membership of more than 45 snowmobilers, many from out of state. And people are constantly joining the club throughout the year since it is sort of a status symbol to be a full-fledged Fugowee.
This past winter one of the rides featured a 54-mile round trip excursion to Elk Lake Resort, which is located on the northwest end of the trail system off Red Rock Road. Ron Kynaston led the group of 21 riders from Robin's Roost across the flats and over Red Rock Pass.
Kynaston had two distinguishing attributes to make him the tour guide. First, he was the only guy in a bright orange suit. And second: "Nobody else wanted to be the leader," he admitted.
This particular club ride was sort of thrown together at the eleventh hour . well, at 2 p.m. on the previous day someone said "Let's ride" and the event was on. In fact, someone had to call Craig and Lerrina Collins, owners of Elk Lake Resort, to see if they would need any lunch supplies for a group that size. "Just bring some hamburger buns," was the response.
Usually, most of the rides are planned a little farther out and on the weekends. Randy Miller is president of the Fugowees. They try to make the rides fairly easy and fun since a lot of the riders are couples and in the "senior" age range. "If you take them out and kill them, they don't come back," said one member.
And one thing is for certain: when the Fugowees get together, you can expect a lot of noise and joking around . at least until the food shows up. That's when things get real quiet while everyone's down to business-eating their hamburgers.
The Fugowees hold regular meetings on the second Friday of the month from October through March at Ponds Lodge at 7:30 p.m. Other activities that the Fugowees get involved with include an annual trails cleanup and a spring party. The club also sponsors an annual Fun Run where it raises money for the Fremont County Search and Rescue. This event includes a poker ride to area businesses, a raffle and bingo.