Living in Canada, it’s hard to understand why a country would prohibit recreational snowmobiling, but that’s the way it is in Norway.
Does the Norwegian government not want its people to have fun? No, that’s probably not the case at all. The reason—and this is based on a variety of web articles (my sources are listed below)—is due to environmental concerns.
Other backcountry user groups in Norway apparently see snowmobiling for fun as an unnecessary activity that ruins the land, and that’s something us Canadian sledders can actually relate to. That’s also a reason why snowmobile clubs are formed—to provide a unified voice and to let non-snowmobilers know what we are all about and what we’re really doing out there. Whether we live in Canada or Norway, there can be a lot of debate on this topic, so let’s leave it at that and get back to talking about snowmobiling in Norway.
So riding for fun is prohibited, but commercial snowmobile tours—or snowscooter safaris as the Norwegians call them—are allowed. So is using a snowmobile for work or transportation. And by work, I mean chasing reindeer. Yep, much like the American quarter horse moving cattle to new pastures in Alberta, snowmobiles are used to move semi-domestic herds of reindeer in Norway to better grazing land.
This activity takes place in Finnmark, which is the northernmost county in Norway. Finnmark is also the largest county in Norway, but it is the least populated, and it has slightly different rules on snowmobile use than the rest of country. According to one article, travel with snowmobiles along marked routes is allowed, but no boondocking—unless of course, you are herding reindeer. In that case, riders are allowed to go off-trail.
Despite the regulations, snowmobiles are quite popular in Norway and people who want to use their snowscooters for both work and fun are trying to get the government to relax its rules on snowmobile use.
With broad plateaus, tall peaks, northern lights and mountains that plunge into the ocean, Norway would be an incredible place to explore by snowmobile.
You will get a chance to learn more about snowmobiling in this country at the 2015 World Snowmobile Invasion in Whitecourt, Alberta, in February. Norway is one of the six countries being represented during this five-day event. For more info, visit the website.