America’s best snowmobiling is in the Upper Peninsula

You would be hard-pressed to find a better place to snowmobile in the U.S. Poll after poll ranks Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as one of, if not the best sledding destination in the United States. Not only do the rides get fantastic reviews, but so does the warm welcome while you are here. 

Ride 3,000 miles of groomed trails from December 1 to March 31

With rare exceptions, we get hundreds of inches of snow annually. Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are natural snow machines but they also keep the winter temperatures cold but not bone-biting. We clear our main roads so you can reach the trails. Then, weather permitting, groom over 3,000 miles of trails from the start of December until the end of March. 

Snowmobile for FREE in mid-February

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers a free snowmobiling weekend in mid-February (Feb. 11-12, 2023). Snowmobilers can operate machines over these two days without paying for registration and a trail permit. It’s a great weekend for experienced riders to bring friends and family and show them how easily they can get hooked on the sport and for out-of-state visitors to discover why the Upper Peninsula is such an incredible place to ride their freedom machines. While there is no cost to ride all weekend, operators must still adhere to all state snowmobile regulations and rules. LEARN MORE

Before you go — register your sled and purchase a trail permit

If you are a Michigan resident, you must register each of your sleds with the Michigan Secretary of State, unless you ride solely on private property. Your registration is good for three years. LEARN MORE

Michigan residents and non-residents who operate their snowmobiles on public land, must display a valid trail permit. This allows you to ride on state-designated trails, public roads and public lands (where authorized). Your annual permit is good from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 of the following year. LEARN MORE

Read our weekly U.P. snowmobile trail reports to plan your rides

Check these weekly trail condition reports throughout the snowmobiling season to know where and when to ride in the U.P.

Rent snowmobiles and gear in the U.P.

Want to snowmobile on some of the most beautiful trails on earth, but don’t have a sled or don’t want to trailer your snowmobile to the Upper Peninsula? Your adventure of a lifetime awaits! 

We have rental businesses throughout the U.P. that can equip you with a sled and safety gear. Plus several of our lodgings also rent snowmobiles and gear. When you decide where you are hitting the trails, check with the local communities for the names of nearby rental places. Here are a few suggestions: 

Western Upper Peninsula

Cloverland Motorsports, Ironwood
Copper Country Rentals, Calumet
Dan’s Polaris Rentals, Atlantic Mine
Lake Gogebic Sled Rentals, Bergland
Timberline Sports, Bergland
Ridenorth, Houghton

Central Upper Peninsula

Grand Island Snowmobile Rentals, Munising
Meyer Yamaha, Ishpeming
Munising Snowmobile Rentals, Munising
Renze Power Sports, Munising
Trail Side Rentals, Grand Marais
Ridenorth, Kingsford
Ridenorth, Marquette

Eastern Upper Peninsula

Sledhouse Snowmobile Rentals, Newberry

Things to do while snowmobiling in the U.P.

It may seem impossible to top the ecstasy of going full throttle on thousands of miles of pristine snowmobile trails, but sledders in the Upper Peninsula highly recommend adding these things to your itinerary:

Snowmobile to historic Great Lakes lighthouses.

When you reach the shore of Lake Superior, Lake Huron or Lake Michigan and see one of our historic lighthouses still weathering the wild and battering waves, wind, ice and snow, you will experience what awe and wonder are all about. Choose your lighthouse destinations

Ride to dozens of U.P. frozen waterfalls.

Another thrill is parking your snowmobile and hiking back to see the power of nature frozen in time. There is no roar, only the muffled spilling of water over the rocks and the crackling of ice when you come upon dozens of waterfalls. Have your camera ready. Your photos will remind you of how peaceful the U.P. is in winter. Find nearby waterfalls

Visit the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway.

Stop to see the unique displays of antique, vintage and racing snowmobiles. Many are one-of-a- kind! There are also snowmobile memorabilia along with a spacious gift shop and meeting room, which is available to rent. LEARN MORE

Experience one-of-a-kind snowmobile crossings in the U.P.

Take the Ice Bridge to Mackinac Island and back. Every year, islanders look forward to the Straits of Mackinac freezing between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island. The safe-to-cross ice usually happens in January. Locals mark the path between the two destinations with old Christmas trees and it becomes a busy thoroughfare for snowmobilers, skiers and walkers until the thaw.

Cross the Portage Lake Lift Bridge between Houghton and Hancock. The Keweenaw Peninsula is often described as a snowmobile paradise. But you don’t have to trailer your sled to reach this gorgeous destination. Once there is adequate snow on the ground for sledding (usually by mid-to-late December), the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club packs down enough snow on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge’s lower deck for snowmobiles to cross between Houghton and Hancock. From there you and your freedom machine can go and go!
Take an international ride between Drummond Island and St. Joseph Island, Ontario.

Drummond Island is your gateway to hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in Canada! Once the ice between Drummond Island and St. Joseph Island, Ontario, is deemed thick enough, islanders from the two destinations form an ice bridge by burying trees in the ice until they meet in the middle. That’s when you know it is safe to travel between the two places. The bridge stays open until spring when the ice conditions become hazardous. The U.S. Customs and Border Control now offers a ROAM app to make your international travel easier. LEARN MORE

Join the fun at Upper Peninsula snowmobile events and races.

As you plan your trip, check our events calendar for upcoming snowmobile rides, races and shows. These are great places to meet sledders who are as passionate as you are about playing outside in the snow. Here are some of our most popular annual events.

  • Mid-December: Midwest Snocross Series, Ironwood
  • Mid-December: Snowmobile the Mighty Mac, St. Ignace
  • Late January: Relic Ride and Show, Rapid River
  • Early February: I-500 Snowmobile Race, Sault Ste. Marie
  • Mid-February: Top of the Lake Snowmobile Show & Ride, Naubinway
  • Mid-March: Pine Stump Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride, Newberry
  • Mid-September: Swap Meet & Auction, Naubinway

Where to stay and eat in the Upper Peninsula.

As you plan your snowmobiling rides, you will discover there are plenty of lodgings, restaurants, beer pubs, wineries and distilleries not far from your favorite trails. There are even some you can pull up to their front doors!

As mentioned earlier, several hotels and resorts rent snowmobiles and gear as well as offer guide services, multi-day discounts when you rent your sled for an extended stay and on-site riding instructions. Check with each community for a list of lodgings that are close to trails or offer rental and instruction amenities. Wherever you stop to rest, you will be greeted with warm smiles because we love snowmobiling, too!