A Guide To Rural Snowmobile Safety

Snowmobiles are simple enough to operate, but they can cause significant injury when basic safety precautions are ignored. Because snowmobiling is a typically rural activity, usual dangers of traffic and even other people are not as common. But sometimes riders can take this for granted and ignore other more serious hazards while sledding. Be especially aware of the following dangers:

Thin ice and bodies of water.

Sledding on the ice is generally safe as long as the ice is thick and thoroughly frozen. After a warm spell, check your usual trails over ponds and streams before you ride to make sure they are still strong enough to support the weight and speed of the vehicle. Never stop with your sled in the middle of a pond. Always use the trails of other snow vehicles if you must pass over bodies of water frequently. In remote areas, stick to ice roads, which are engineered for safety. 

Obstacles hidden under deep snow.

Powerful sleds are effective tools for getting through impassible areas due to heavy snowfall. However, snow hides hazards. Tall grass, from example, may bear up the snow, making it look stable, but when weight is put on it, you break through the layer of snow and fall down into the grass. Culverts in ditches, farm machinery, fallen trees, and other similar obstacles can also be hidden by snow but completely wreck your snowmobile.

Rural roads and railways.

Logging roads, gravel access roads, and railroads still wend their way through sparsely populated areas. While accidents are not common, take care to use mindfulness when crossing the paths of other traffic mediums. 


When the wind has been blowing, snow depth is difficult to gauge. Snow could be piled several feet deep in some areas, while being barely inches deep in others. Sometimes the changes in depth are obvious, but other times, a snow surface may look perfectly level when it is not. Use caution when riding in windy weather, and check your trails for surface changes after winter storms. 

Break downs.

Sledding in remote areas means you will not be able to get help right away should you break down. It's best to keep a basic repair kit with you when sledding far from home or at nearby rest stop. Keep extra snowmobile equipment on hand for making basic repairs: an extra engine belt, spark plugs, rope, and wrenches are all essential. Keep an extra set of dry gloves, socks, and a hat in case you are wet and need to wait for help to arrive. 

For more information, tips, and equipment, visit a snowmobile equipment shop before heading out.