For years, snowmobilers in Whitecourt have been telling me their town is the snowmobile capital of Alberta, and only now after seeing it with my own eyes, do I believe them.
Before I tell you why, let’s get something straight. At first glance, Whitecourt does seem like your typical small resource town, but a closer look will reveal that tourism and more importantly, snowmobiling play a big role as well.
Outdoor recreation is huge here, and that’s because the area, which is known as Woodlands County, is home to acres upon acres of rolling hills and mixed forest, conquered only by the Athabasca and McLeod rivers. Hunting, fishing and ATVing are popular summer pastimes, but when winter hits, Whitecourt is sled-topia.
There are some 465 kilometres of groomed snowmobile trails in the Whitecourt area, and all are accessible from town, which means sledding to the trails from your hotel is generally accepted. And no matter where you go, you are bound to arrive at a warm-up shelter where members of the Whitecourt Trailblazers Snowmobile Club do a wonderful job of keeping it clean and stocked with firewood.
Last season, I had the great pleasure of attending the 2015 World Snowmobile Invasion in Whitecourt. In addition to meeting some amazing people, I got to spend a few days on the trails, and that’s when I realized Whitecourt is indeed the snowmobile capital of Alberta.
Here are some of my favourite photos from the trip: