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The West Yellowstone area provides a wide range trails that meet the demands of beginning, intermediate, and experienced riders. Whether you prefer steady, mellow cruising with few elevation changes, or you are craving the powdery steeps, there are plenty of options to suit your taste.
The trail system begins right in West Yellowstone , where snowmobilers share city streets with motorists. Trails lead from Montana connecting directly into trails in neighboring Island Park , Idaho . There are also hundreds of miles of groomed trails in the Gallatin , Beaverhead and Targhee forests in this system.
The West Yellowstone Trail Grooming program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce has been grooming the snowmobile trails outside West Yellowstone for over three decades. Each night as riders return to town, the groomers head out to smooth the trails for the next day. For a daily grooming report, trail or avalanche information, and maps visit the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce website at www.destinationyellowstone.com. (Be sure to pick up a map from the Chamber of Commerce or West Yellowstone businesses.)
The Madison Arm Loop is located north and west of West Yellowstone and is 20 miles in length. This is an excellent trail for beginning snowmobilers or someone looking for a nice trail ride. The northern edge of the Madison Arm Loop skirts along the edge of Hebgen Lake , while the west edge goes along the South Fork of the Madison River . (Caution: ice along Hebgen Lake is not safe to ride on) This could easily be considered the most relaxing ride of the trails in the Yellowstone area. The trail is well maintained and usually provides great wildlife viewing opportunities. If you are new to snowmobiling, consider this as a first ride before heading out to the other trails in the system.
South Plateau Trail can be access from Electric Street right in West Yellowstone . It heads south for 13 miles where is meets the Black Bear Cutoff (to Idaho ) or 16.2 miles where is meets the Black Canyon Trail. The trail runs along the boundary of Yellowstone National Park and is your best opportunity to view the moose of the region. You can ride this trail out and back, or link it up with one of the other trails to make a great loop ride. Be sure you know how long these loops are and where the nearest gas is along the way. It provides great views of the area's mountains, following creeks and rivers away from the crowds. There is an abundance of off-trail riding but make sure that you do not enter Yellowstone Park (the South Plateau Trail skirts the western edge of the Park).
See the snow ghosts of Two Top on the most famous trail in all of North America ! Two Top Trail is a popular choice for its variety of terrain and 2,000-foot elevation gain. The trail is groomed, and powder fields abound. From the upper areas, the surrounding mountain ranges come into view, including the Wyoming 's Tetons, Idaho 's Centennial Mountains , Lionshead in Montana , and Yellowstone National Park . Constant driven winds create ghostly ice patterns plastered on the trees at the top of this mountain creating the famous "snow ghosts." This trail has everything and makes it one of the most visited trails in the system. Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will enjoy this well-groomed trail. This trail is a large loop with plenty of extra off-trail riding for those in search of more adventure. There are numerous bowls out there with drop offs and overhanging cliffs. The bowls are great to ride, but make sure you know where you are out there.
Horse Butte Loop travels the shores of Hebgen Lake . This trail is a great ride to introduce the novice rider into the snowmobiling community. The 20-mile loop takes you by Hebgen Lake and some of the best ice fishing in the west. If you are looking to get away from the crowds of the Yellowstone trail system, this is a great smooth ride for you. This trail is also a great ride when the weather is a bit too much on the higher trails. Access the loop from the 4.8 Horse Butte Trail. (You can add another 15 miles by taking the Cougar Creek Trail.) This trail makes a ride through thick pines and open meadows and along the lake. Watch for the fire lookout and great views from the top of Horse Butte. There is off-trail riding through trees and meadows, although some of the area is restricted (watch for posted signs). Lionshead Trail offers an exciting experience for those seeking something more radical. Following the east side of the Continental Divide, the trail climbs to over 10,000 feet. Lionshead is short (10 miles), with plenty of the steep terrain, very deep snow, and outstanding views. It is also one of the shortest and steepest trips in the area at around 16 miles, but one of the most scenic trails with expansive vistas from the Teton to Yellowstone . This trail rides along the Continental Divide and then up to the top of Lionhead Mountain through a series of switchbacks that are not recommended for the inexperienced rider.
The Big Sky Trail provides some of the best backcountry snowmobiling in Montana . This 110-mile trail begins just north of West Yellowstone . The first portion is groomed, but the trail quickly turns into an un-groomed powder experience. Deep fields of snow and outstanding hill climbing opportunities are the hallmark of this well-known and challenging trail. If you are in search of fresh powder, you may find it here. This is a trail for more aggressive riders looking for backcountry access. You can also try looping into the Carrot Basin and Skyline Ridge trails.The trail begins from West Yellowstone and heads north along the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park . From West Yellowstone , there is seventeen miles of groomed trail followed by thirteen miles of 'un-groomed powder' until it reaches the Sunlight Basin Trail. About 9 miles out of town the trail crosses the highway and heads northwest. After the road crosses the highway, the area opens up into the cabin and Tepee Creek area. This area has open bowls, deep powder, happy snowmobilers and a forest service cabin that can be rented.
For the ultimate snowmobile experience, add a day of snowmobiling inside Yellowstone Park . Snowmobile tours travel along the same roads traveled by tourists in the summer time. There are 200 miles of groomed trails inside the park. All roads except Mammoth to Cooke City and Canyon to Tower are open to snowmobiles. Ride from West Yellowstone to Madison Junction and take the Lower Loop to see Old Faithful . Or, travel north from Madison over to the Canyon area and visit the frozen wonder of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its frozen waterfalls.