Photo Credit: Heather Sunderland

Rev your engines; these winterized 4x4s are fun for all ages. Invented for cross-country transportation, these fun vehicles are now used primarily for recreational purposes. Often called a "sled," snowmobiles are designed to travel across deep snow on or off trails. A wildly popular winter sport to race and ride, here are some FAQs if you're looking to get into the action.

How popular is snowmobiling?

There are over 3000 snowmobile clubs worldwide. The most popular states for snowmobiling are Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan according to number of registered users. February even has an official “Take a Friend Snowmobiling Week.”

Are there different kinds?

Yes. Much like skis, there are different types of snowmobiles for different ability levels. An entry-level Snowmobile is called a trail model, which is easy to ride and relatively inexpensive. They can be equipped with electric start and reverse for easy starting and maneuvering. There are also performance snowmobiles which are heavier and more responsive, touring snowmobiles which accommodate two riders in more comfort, mountain snowmobiles configured for tougher terrain, and utility snowmobiles designed for towing.

What are the major snowmobile brands?

There are four major snowmobile manufacturers in North America: Arctic Cat, BRP, Polaris, and Yamaha Motor Corporation.

How much does a snowmobile typically cost?

You can get a used snowmobile that's a few years old for about $2,000, while new ones start around $10,000. They can also be rented in single or multi-passenger variations for hourly, half day or full day increments. Renting will cost you about $100-150 an hour or $300-500 for the day, depending on how touristy of an area you’re in.

Is snowmobiling safe?

As with any sport, there are inherent risks, but if you do your best to take precautions and be smart, then yes, it's as safe as any other winter sport. Some basic tips - don’t drink and drive, expect the unexpected, don’t ride alone or without telling anyone where you’re going, and always check local weather conditions before you go (especially in areas prone to avalaches).