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Picture this: You’re zooming up a groomed, snowy trail, whizzing past stands of pine, fir, spruce, and winter’s naked aspens. You cruise up to a small opening, where the pinnacled peaks framing the Fraser Valley unfold in both directions. You can see the ski runs etched into the mountains of Winter Park to the south and the scalped peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the north. And the best part? You get it all without the angry growl and acrid smoke of a two-stroke engine—just the whir of the electric snowmobile’s tracks propelling you deeper into this winter wonderland.
Grand Adventures, a Winter Park–based guiding service, recently partnered with Uncharted Society, which supplied the outfitter with Grand Touring Electric snowmobiles from Ski-Doo. They’re one of just five outfitters in the country to offer the brand-new, eco-friendly snowmobiles—the next closest place is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
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“They’re a game changer for exactly what they were designed for, which is hourlong tours,” says Grand Adventures guide Cory Burrows, who leads clients on backcountry rides on the new machines. “It’s a trail tour where we’re doing a lot of scenic stops. We’re coming up on a lot of wildlife like fox and moose. We’re definitely able to do it a little cleaner and quieter, if you will.”
Indeed, if you’ve ever ridden or driven a snowmobile, it’s usually a loud experience, like having a large chainsaw rattling between your legs. Even while idling, you have to yell to your fellow riders over a loud engine, which means spying wildlife is a rarity. Not so with the Grand Touring Electric sleds.
“It’s so quiet that when I was riding down the trail I saw a moose yesterday,” Burrows says. “I just happened to see it and as soon as I said: ‘Oh look, a moose!’ Well, three people behind me looked over and saw it, too. That would never happen with the motors running.”
Despite their inherent serenity, the sleds don’t skimp out on the acceleration that makes snowmobiles so fun. They whip up to top speed—25 mph—in seconds.
“We haven’t done any real world testing with the speed and how fast it gets up there, but I’m telling you, having ridden snowmobiles my whole life, it is torquey,” Burrows says. “I was one of those people who was a little skeptical in the beginning, and the first time I rode one I thought, Oh, this is the future. I mean, it’s all there as far as what I want from a snowmobile, especially on these trails.”
The Grand Touring Electric sleds are Ski-Doo’s first venture into electric-powered snow travel. They’re limited to about 25 mph in normal mode with a range of about 40 miles between charges, making them more suited to touring than exploring or, say, hauling buns. Right now, they’re not accessible to private buyers—just Grand Touring. But that’s a good thing: The sleds are accessible to newbies and families, with just enough oomph, power, and fun to keep a more experienced snowmobiler entertained.
Grand Adventures in Winter Park has a fleet of 10 e-snowmobiles (in addition to its other touring and high-performance rigs), which it began offering for guided, one-hour tours to the public on December 22. Tours start at $165 for a single sled and are expected to increase in price during higher-demand times in the season.