The northern B.C. town of Mackenzie is well known for its winter recreational opportunities. Snowmobiling features prominently among those on offer, and the sport has recently been seeing an upward trend.
The Rocky Mountain Riders Snowmobile Club is a very active part of the snowmobiling scene. Its members are involved in a number of initiatives including frequent training for avalanche safety. There is also a focus on getting a variety of people out sledding, and the club generally hosts a family ride every six weeks. President Marlon Spooner feels that sledding outings are best when shared.
It's better with friends
“It is definitely a social sport,” he said. “For me, I use it as a spectator sport also. I don’t have a problem climbing the hills and what have you, but I really enjoy watching the bigger machines come out as well. Clubs are always good. You can learn the area and become involved with the community, which I very much enjoy.”
Every year the Rocky Mountain Riders club hosts Snowarama, an event that raises money for Easter Seals in support of children with disabilities. It involves a 60-kilometre round trip and is becoming increasingly popular with a large number of riders who now come from out of the area. Last year 109 sleds showed up to participate, with a total of 134 people.
Snowarama is a full-day event that, in 2013, will take place on March 10. Everything kicks off at 10 a.m. Attendees can register the day of the ride. The starting location is Windy Point, which is on the junction of Highway 97 and Highway 39, leading into Mackenzie.
The Snowarama event allows for a fun day for everyone, and involves a casual ride for a worthy cause. Participants can collect pledges in advance and forms will be available on site. There is a lot of flexibility and anyone hoping to ride can piggyback onto someone else’s pledge or make their own before taking off.
A range of riding options
Even if you can’t make it to the event, snowmobiling in Mackenzie offers some great advantages that attract plenty of sledders. Trails are free to use, even for non-members. Mackenzie is unique in that, even though the Rocky Mountain Riders operate two groomers, they are supplied and maintained by the District of Mackenzie. Some of the accommodation in town even offers a discount for snowmobilers.
Most trails begin at a very easy level and get progressively more difficult, making them a convenient option for anyone. Morfee Mountain, in particular, offers this sort of graduated riding and the track through to the cabin is comprised of simple riding. Nonetheless, Spooner claims he can be from his doorstep to the top of the mountain in 15 minutes.
“You don’t have to drive anywhere,” he said. “You’ve simply got fresh powder everywhere you go.”