Many outdoor enthusiasts mistakenly believe that when the temperatures begin to dip, their Iowa adventure season must soon draw to a close. Nothing could be further from the truth, and modern technology has made increasingly varied outdoor activities possible. If you have dejectedly resigned yourself to a boring winter without motorized sports, you might want to consider winter’s version of the jet ski: the snowmobile.
Unbeknownst to some, most of Iowa’s four major and six minor state forests, as well as its 85 state parks, feature approved snowmobiling trails. A quick peek at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website will give you an idea of your nearly endless options (as well as contact information to check snowmobile access). Iowa is known for breathtaking scenery, and the beauty does not hibernate in the winter months. Those who want to catch sight of the views without trudging through the countryside in wet boots will welcome the chance to see the sights, get their adrenaline fix, and come home quickly to a warm fire.
Now that you are all amped up to go, you should keep a few basic tips in mind to ensure that your Iowa snow party is a blast, not a bust:
Register your Toys:
Like most motorized vehicles, snowmobiles must be legally registered. You can do this through any County Recorder’s Office or hunting/fishing licensing agent. (You can even get a resident permit online here.) Keep in mind that they must be renewed between September 1 and December 31, so be sure to make this year’s deadline!
Know Your Snowmobile Stuff:
Both residents and non-residents ages 12 through 17 must have taken and passed an approved education course and carry the certificate when on public land. The course can be taken online, or you can opt to do it in person with an instructor.
Be a Safe Rider:
Once you are ready for action, take a look at the helpful safety tips from the Safe Riders Campaign. Some of the more obvious rules include not operating this machinery under the influence of any controlled substances and being properly trained. Less-obvious ones are the advice never to ride alone and to check forecasted weather conditions. A little preparation can prevent a fun outing from becoming a miserable (or even dangerous) debacle.
Get to Know Iowa:
This state has some of the most beautiful scenery around, if we do say so ourselves. Look at some maps, ask locals for their favorite spots, and go see what all the talk is about!
Image Courtesy Flickr’s Creative Commons