By Jeff McGirr

There’s nothing quite like experiencing Northern Ontario’s great outdoors by snowmobile!

Let me paint the scene of your first ride in Ontario’s North. The trees are capped with fresh snow from last night’s storm. The rising morning sun glistens through the weighted limbs casting yellow beams onto the fluffy white snow. The shadows are blue, brisk and dark. It’s stunningly clear and the fresh air is deliciously cool. You take a few steps, the snow crunching under your boots makes you smile, and you turn the key (or pull the cord), eyes wide open as the fuel ignites. As you peer down the trail you notice that during your slumber the trail groomer has been at work—a white ribbon through the forest awaits! Will today be a great day? You bet, as you’re about to experience snowmobiling!

But how do you experience snowmobiling without having to spend thousands of dollars on one? If you’ve never tried snowmobiling before (or it’s been many years since you last tried), that is a big financial commitment to make?

Well we have some good news for you. There are plenty of ways to get a taste of snowmobiling and see if you like it without actually buying a sled. This article will show you how.

Note: When you do get ready to head out on a snowmobile adventure, make sure you do your best to keep yourself and everybody else safe. Follow all public health measures wherever you go.

Tours & Rentals

Tire Wheel Snow Sky Automotive tire


One of the best ways to experience snowmobiling without buying a snowmobile is to take advantage of one of many tour or rental operators in Ontario. The great thing about snowmobile tours or rentals is they are plug and play, meaning that everything, including, key items like the trail pass, high quality gear, and the valuable knowledge of experienced guides, is often all included. If you’ve never snowmobiled before, I’d highly recommending going the guided tour route first. Operators such as Yamaha Snowmobile Adventure Tours at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville or SMART Adventure Programs in Horseshoe Valley offer both “full size” adult snowmobiles as well as “youth” sized snowmobiles for younger riders. Tour outfits have experienced guides who put a high priority on your safety and focus on ensuring you have a great experience with plenty of pointers and instruction. If you’re in eastern Ontario, consider Tom Irwin Adventure Tours. This outfit is plug and play as well, offering all the riding gear you will need.

Of course, there are multiple rental outfits here in Ontario that allow you to just rent and go on your own. I’d recommend joining up with other experienced riders such as family member or friends if you’re going to go the rental route. After all, snowmobiling is more than about riding…it’s also about spending time outdoors with friends and family.

Click here for a complete list of Snowmobile Guided Tours & Rentals.

Local Dealers

Sky Automotive tire Snow Tree Vehicle


Back in the day snowmobilers were known to carry a full toolbox, several sets of spare spark plugs, and would come home smelling of unburnt fuel. A big day riding could have been 50km! Did you grow up snowmobiling like that? Has it been many years since you’ve ridden? Do you have great memories of winter rides? Snowmobiles have changed a lot since then and now come with modern technologies such as four stroke engines and direct fuel injected engines. Modern snowmobiles are clean and often just as reliable as your daily four-wheel driver. Check out this article here on 10 tips for buying a snowmobile.

New sleds have comforts such as rider forward ergonomics, big bump suspensions and creature comforts such as heated grips, seats and yes helmets, too! It’s not uncommon now for snowmobilers in Ontario to put on several hundred kilometers in a day, thanks in part to investments in industrial sized groomers by the OFSC and member clubs.

Your local snowmobile dealer is a great resource to give snowmobiling a try without buying a brand-new sled. Pre-Covid it wasn’t uncommon for both OEM’s and Dealers to partner up and host demo ride events, a fantastic opportunity to get on a brand-new state of the art sled. In the absence of demo ride events at your local dealer, I encourage you to reach out, stop on by and check out what’s available to try out. You may just get lucky and be able to take a sled for a spin. It’s also a great opportunity to sit-on a new snowmobile and talk to industry experts. Check out a full list of Ontario snowmobile dealers here.

A Friend or Family Member

Snow Sky Tire Tree Slope


I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to introduce or re-introduce someone to snowmobiling. That’s one of the great things about snowmobilers is we have a ton of passion and love to share our sport with others. Friends and or Family members are a great way to try snowmobiling. If you’ve never been snowmobiling before, reach out to a friend or family member and ask for a ride. They may not let you take their prized shiny new sled out on your own, but they will more than likely be happy to take you for a tour. Snowmobiling is a ton of fun even if you’re the passenger and it’s a great way to give it a try.

If you’re looking to return to the sport, asking friends or family will be well received. As noted, snowmobiling is a social sport and us snowmobilers love to have a large group of riding buddies to share our adventures with.

For new or returning snowmobilers check out this Beginners Guide for New Snowmobilers.

You’ve read this article because you’re interested in trying snowmobiling or returning to the sport of snowmobiling to have an enjoyable and memorable time in the great Canadian outdoors! Snowmobiling is a great way to make new friends, new memories and explore new areas, it’s time you experience that ride of a lifetime! You deserve it!

Snowmobiling is like no other sport in the world, if there’s one thing you can be sure of in Northern Ontario, it’s that winter is guaranteed! See you on the trails.

Sky Snow Snowmobile Motor vehicle Wheel


Photos by Jeff McGirr & Clinton Smout