There are opportunities to ride snow vehicles on public land (within and outside of Public Land Use Zones, and on provincial trails) and in some provincial park sites. Riding a snow vehicle is a seasonal activity that is only permitted at certain times of the year.
A snow vehicle is any motor vehicle that is designed and equipped to be driven on ice, snow or both. Learn more about other types of motorized recreation on public land.
Plan your trip
Step 1 – Plan your route
Find winter motorized trails and snow vehicle areas that are open for snow vehicle use during the winter. Some trails and areas only allow the use of specific vehicles, such as snowmobiles.
- Be aware of closures. Check the Public land closures and advisories pages for current area closures.
- Download directions to the trailhead and trail maps, before heading out.
Visit the Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ) pages to review the rules, to learn where the approved trails are and to download georeferenced maps to use offline during your trip.
- Cataract Creek Snow Vehicle
- McLean Creek Off-Highway Vehicle
- Porcupine Hills
- Sibbald Snow Vehicle
Snowmobiling is allowed on public land outside of a PLUZ. Always follow the posted rules and signs.
Contact the disposition holder for permission to access public land held under lease and public land that is occupied. Construction or heavy equipment, fences and buildings are indicators that land is occupied.
Step 2 – Check the weather and snow conditions
Step 3 – Know the rules and laws
Stay safe and avoid a fine.
- Snowmobile operators must be 14 years or older.
- Register and insure your vehicle.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for the minimum age of riders and number of passengers your vehicle can support.
- Wear a CSA-compliant helmet. Some exemptions apply.
- Your vehicle must have a licence plate, working head-lamp and tail lights, a proper exhaust muffler and spark arrestor.
- Stay on designated trails and water crossings, or within designated snow vehicle areas.
- Keep tracks out of the water. Tracked vehicles are not allowed on the bed or shore unless the travel is on frozen ground without making a depression, or on ice capable of holding the weight of the snow vehicle without breaking.
- Stay off private and leased land unless permitted. Contact leaseholder prior to travel on leased land. Learn more at Recreation on agricultural public land
- Operating an Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) or snowmobile while impaired is against the law.
Learn more about rules and best practices for motorized recreation on public land in Alberta.
Step 4 – Plan ahead and be prepared
- Be prepared – learn what gear to bring to have fun and ride safely.
- Be prepared to change plans and/or turn around if conditions are bad.
- Know and ride to the ability and skill of yourself and others in your group.
- Ride with caution; hills and other natural hazards can be dangerous.
- Two-way traffic exists on all trails; use caution and reduce speeds when encountering other trail users and nearing intersections.
- Drive slowly around staging areas and avoid excessive speeds on the trails.
- Motorized users should yield to all other trail users.
- Watch for trail grooming equipment which may be present on major trails.
- Always have your headlight on; it is just as important to be seen as to see. Use caution and stay on trails when operating in reduced visibility.
- Never travel alone. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to return.
Snowmobiling in Mountain Terrain
- Learn more about safety when mountain sledding before you head out.
- Snowmobilers in avalanche terrain should be equipped with an avalanche transceiver and know how to self-rescue, as well as snow shovels and probes.
- Ensure the people you are travelling with have the knowledge and ability to rescue you if you are stuck in an avalanche. Your chance of surviving an avalanche drops significantly if you are buried for more than 15 minutes.
- Alberta’s backcountry may not have cellphone service. Carry satellite communication equipment in case of an emergency.
Step 5 – Get outside and enjoy the snow!
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