Person on a snowmobile
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Snowmobiling Basics at Priest Lake

Elkins Resort offers hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails right outside the comfort of your cabin door! Snowmobiling is a fun and exhilarating way to experience the beauty of the Selkirk Mountains during winter, and our nearby trails lead through old-growth forests to the windswept ridges of 7,000-foot mountain passes.

But before you head out on your journey, make sure you know the snowmobiling basics at Priest Lake! If you’re ready to leave the comfort of your warm cabin, here’s what you need to know:

Gearing Up

  • If you don’t bring your own snowmobile – fear not! Local outfitter, Priest Lake Powersports, can deliver equipment right to your door.
  • Make sure to dress appropriately! Proper preparation and clothing can be the difference between an amazing trip and a miserable (or dangerous) one. Here’s what we recommend:
    • Layers! Like most mountain sports, layers are critical. Try to dress in sweat-wicking base layers such as wool or synthetic fabrics. Save the cotton for Après.
    • Snow pants or insulated waterproof bibs
    • Waterproof/wind-resistant jacket
    • Thick socks and warm gloves
    • Waterproof boots
    • Helmet
  • Make sure to check the grooming report to see what terrain is open from our two trailheads.

Starting Up

  • Turn key into “on” position and close the choke.
  • Push the electric start button or pull the start cord.
  • When the motor starts, gradually open the choke and rev the throttle until it has reached a stable idle condition.
  • Let the snowmobile idle for at least five minutes, allowing it to reach its optimum operating temperature.


  • The right hand controls the throttle, the left hand controls the brake. Just like a car, don’t use both simultaneously.
  • Keep your feet on the rails and hands on the handles!
  • Follow groomed tracks at a comfortable speed as you get the hang of it.
  • If you slide off the tracks, rev the throttle until you return.
  • When going uphill, kneel, and lean uphill. Increase throttle to maintain speed and momentum. Don’t stop until you reach the top.
  • When going downhill, sit as far back as possible. Pump brakes every few seconds to maintain a slow speed.
  • When turning, lean forward and into turns. Adjust weight and steering throughout the turn.


  • Always ride in a single file and keep a generous distance from anyone ahead of you.
  • Use hand signals to alert any upcoming turns to other riders.
  • Don’t stop on a curve or a hill. When you stop, pull off to the right side.
  • When you summit a hill, look downhill for oncoming drivers – uphill drivers have right of way!
  • Save the beer for after the adventure – just like driving, even the smallest amount of alcohol can put you and other riders in danger.
  • The Priest Lake trail system has signs at each intersection to let you know where you are.
  • Bring water and snacks. There aren’t any corner stores along the trail.

With this advice, we’re confident that you will have a safe and enjoyable experience touring Priest Lake’s remarkable terrain. Have fun, enjoy the ride, and don’t forget to refuel at our restaurant after the adventure!

Stay at Elkins Resort on Priest Lake

Now that you’ve got the snowmobiling basics at Priest Lake down, complete your weekend winter adventure with a stay at Elkins Resort. With two snowmobiling trails accessible right from your cabin, the adventure has never been easier! Choose from 30 different cedar cabins, ranging in size from two bedrooms up to six bedrooms. Each features a warming fireplace, modern amenities, and beautiful views of Northern Idaho.