Royal coronation underway: Swan Hills crowned Alberta’s SledTown ShowDown champion for first time

Albertans are swooning for Swan Hills

by Kyle Born

A line of snowmobilers on a trail in Swan Hills, Alberta.
“Everyone that has a sled wants snow. We have it when others don’t.” — Don Kelm Photo courtesy Swan Hills Snow-Goers Facebook page

Albertans are flocking to Swan Hills faster than a chuckwagon racer at Stampede.

During SnoRiders’ annual SledTown ShowDown competition, Swan Hills was named Alberta’s 2022 SledTown ShowDown provincial champion for the first time ever, taking its place among the elite.

The Swan Hills Snow Goers Club has been supporting its community for 50 years by providing an outlet for snowmobile enthusiasts to gather, socialize and share rides. This support started with a shared clubhouse and 100 kilometres of forestry-maintained trails. The club now maintains 450 kilometres of groomed trail systems, including part of the Golden Triangle trail system and The Trans Canada Snowmobile trail.

There are plenty of reasons for Swan Hills’ first SledTown ShowDown victory. To provide further insight, Don Kelm, trail co-ordinator of the Swan Hills Snow-Goers, explained why Albertans are swooning for Swan Hills.

How did your club rally the community to vote for SledTown ShowDown?

Word-of-mouth spread quickly amongst members of our club and the rest of the community. From there, social media took over on the Swan Hills General Discussion Facebook page.

What was your reaction to winning the 2022 SledTown ShowDown Provincial Championship for Alberta?

A sense of pride and satisfaction. The work and effort of our club members to make Swan Hills a snowmobile destination have been paying off. We had the honour of receiving the 2019 and 2021 NW zone and provincial ASA (Alberta Snowmobile Association) club of the year awards. Winning this SledTown award is icing on the cake.

Swan Hills won its first SledTown ShowDown provincial championship for Alberta. How are the Snow-Goers and the Swan Hills community celebrating this historic accomplishment?

Plans are in the works to get banners made up for a parade float, a show booth at the ASA Fall Trade Fair, tourism pamphlets by Wild Alberta, our Swan Hills Snow-Goers Facebook Page and our snowmobile rally in February.

Why do you think snowmobilers are so passionate about riding in Swan Hills?

At close to 4,000-feet in elevation, Swan Hills gets an abundance of snowfall, which is unique to this area. The “snowbelt” runs from Virginia Hills in the southwest to Wallace Mountain in the north to Deer Mountain in the northeast. It’s not unusual for three-to-six feet of snowfall to blanket this area every winter.

For the locals, being able to ride from your home to the trails and beyond is a privilege that we enjoy to the utmost, and a responsibility that we don’t want abused. We communicate that privilege to anyone that will listen. We have a very good working relationship with the local authorities and encourage them to utilize the trails as well. This privilege is extended to all riders coming into town, so you can ride right to your room. From there, a quick meal at one of the restaurants, back on your sled to the gas stations, and then you’re on the trails again.

For anyone who has yet to sled in Swan Hills but is considering making the trek, what would you tell them to entice them to come?

Everyone that has a sled wants snow. We have it when others don’t. We offer a staging area to unload at, groomed trails practically from your doorstep, with the enticement of fresh powder opportunities at every turn. More and more sledders are venturing off-trail to find that untouched hidden spot that they can track up and have a blast. My advice to them is always return to the trail so you know where you are. Tracking apps on your cell phone have made adventure riding so easy. We are working on getting the trail system on an app like Never Lost Trails or Polaris Ride Command so that you can see the trails in real time when you’re riding.

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