Discovering Manitoba

Plan now for Snowmobiling in Paradise next Fall

This snowmobiling community of approximately 15,000 people has been enjoying the pristine routes and long winters for many years.

Paradise means different things to different people. To fishermen, it’s lakes and rivers and long sunny days; to skiers, it’s downhill excitement and cross country trails through the boreal forest in winter and a warm fire waiting; and to the snowmobile buff, it’s lots of snow, warm-up cabins and well-groomed trails! Thompson has all of this – and now, even more.

This snowmobiling community of approximately 15,000 people has been enjoying the pristine routes and long winters for many years. Well known as the “Hub of the North”, a regional center for business and services such as health and education, Thompson is located 740 kilometers north of Winnipeg and serves a regional population of approximately 60,000. Built upon the Precambrian Shield beside the vibrant Burntwood River, the community boasts all the amenities of city living nestled among the beautiful lakes, pristine boreal forest, northern lights and of course hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails within the region.

Thompson has just expanded its northern hospitality in a project referred to as “Snowmobile Friendly Thompson”. The project, birthed by Tourism North, grew out of a concept of developing a regional snowmobile trail system. And with the combined efforts of Community Futures North Central Development, Thompson Unlimited, Thompson Trailbreakers (Thompson’s snowmobile club), the local RCMP detachment and the City of Thompson, snowmobilers will now have new safer trails to access the community’s hotels, snowmobiler dealerships, restaurants and gas stations.

The goal of the Snowmobile Friendly Thompson project was to allow snowmobilers access to more of these businesses in the city and ultimately position Thompson as a city that welcomes snowmobile tourism. It is estimated that snowmobilers spend $10,000 to $30,000 per year on the activity and that does not include the cost of the snowmobile itself. Knowing this, a special working group was formed in an effort to tap into the economic spinoffs that snowmobile tourism could offer. The larger goal of a regional snowmobile trail system that snowmobilers can use to travel from Southern Manitoba to Northern Manitoba is the next step.

The special working group met with City of Thompson officials to revamp the off-road vehicle bylaw. A list of new crossings and trails was added to an existing bylaw. An updated map listing the new trails was distributed to hotels, visitor centers, advertisers and at dealerships locally and across the province. Signage was also erected at intersections within the city limits to help ensure a safer and more enjoyable trip. The map of the snowmobile trails in and around Thompson can be obtained by contacting the Thompson Trailbreakers Association at http://thompsontrailbreakers.org.

Tourism North, Northern Manitoba’s tourism association, notes on their website that hundreds of kilometers of groomed and well maintained snowmobile trails are part of the Snoman network throughout all of Manitoba. These trails provide countless opportunities for snowmobiling adventures. Snowmobile to Pisew Falls or Paint Lake Provincial Park on a 25 kilometer trail ride or track up to Thompson just 17 kilometers away. Warm-up shelters can be found along the way, and along trails close to Thompson, cell phone service is available. Note that Sno-Pass licenses are required on most trails.

Snowmobiling has become one of Manitoba’s most popular forms of outdoor winter recreation. The province is well endowed with bountiful natural wonders that offer snowmobilers trails from December to March that are groomed and well maintained playgrounds for snowmobiling enthusiasts. Snowman Inc. is a non-profit organization representing 50provincial snowmobiling clubs which maintain and groom over 12,000 km of Manitoba’s scenic trails www. snoman.mb.ca.

Note again that Sno-Pass licenses are required on most trails. For many, this snowmobile tour affords the opportunity for snowmobilers to experience new trails and see different wildlife, landscapes and communities; ice-fish new lakes and meet new like-minded snowmobile enthusiasts. This is a great opportunity to enjoy an outing in Manitoba’s winter wonderland. For f urther informat ion, visit http://thompsontrailbreakers.org.

- by Mark Matiasek

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