Over the past few weeks Michigan has had some unseasonably warm temperatures. And while homeowners are happy to not have to shovel as much snow, snowmobilers are missing the powder. Across the state, the Michigan DNR and local snowmobile clubs have been working hard to get out and groom the trails as much as possible but if it’s not warm outside they feel they can do more harm than good.
“(We) hit the main trails system coming out of the warm up, and all the rain that we had. Things have held up O.K. Obviously there’s some good and some bad out there. Riders are finding both, and experiencing both. Trails 3 and 17 that we pick up in Toivola and go all the way to Copper Harbor is always a rough trail. And that will take us a few passes to get back in check, but we’re sending groomers out, whenever it makes sense. So we had the team out last night, a machine headed south today, during the day to kind of help break some of that stuff up, and loosen it up. So we can try and set that trail back in place, and we’ll be back out there again tonight.” – Ryan LaPorte, President, Keweenaw Snowmobile Club
It’s not all bad though. Visit Keweenaw’s Executive Director Brad Barnett says, while many businesses are missing out on some of the snowmobilers, the area has a diverse network of winter outdoor activities and events that bring in many visitors.
“So, we know people are eager to come up here and sled, in addition to other wintertime activities. But they’re very mindful of weather conditions. We’re lucky in the Keweenaw that we have a diverse winter visitor economy. A lot of great events, like Winter Carnival and just this January, we had the U.S. National Cross Country Ski Championships. So, you know, we’re lucky that our season isn’t completely dependent on snowmobiles. We have some other options, and activities that draw people up here. And help balance it out, even if we do have a maybe not so great sledding season.” – Brad Barnett, Executive Director, Visit Keweenaw
And even with the warm weather, some businesses are doing better than one might think. South Range Pub Owner, Tom Kernen says, that on bad trail days riders will stop in at restaurants, bars, and snowmobile hangouts more often.
“The up here the last couple of weeks has put a damper on things, but most of these people schedule for the winter months to be here. So usually they stay here all the time. If it’s a rainy day, they may drive in and stay and spend the day with us. Which is some of our best days, is bad weather. But otherwise they’re here for the week or weekend, and they don’t really want to leave. This year since the first day of December, when the trails open, we’ve had snowmobilers in here every day. And even up to, after the end of March, we still, if the trail conditions hold, we still have people coming in.” – Tom Kernen, Owner, South Range Pub
Barnett says that diverse activities and events are key to a good winter tourist economy. And the snowmobile clubs have been able to get out to maintain the trails far more often than not. And will look forward to some possible snow in the coming days. Check Visit Keweenaw and Keweenaw Snowmobile Club websites to find more information on what there is to explore in the Keweenaw before the end of winter.