This is the year of snowmobiling. After living my entire life without even sitting on a snowmobile, here I am sledding through the Northwoods in the Snowmobile Capital of the World.
Can you believe it? This is the first year I’ve ever gone snowmobiling. After living in both Minnesota and Wisconsin for nearly my entire life, here I am going snowmobiling not once, but twice this winter! Nick and I were humbly invited by Vilas County to check out the Snowmobile Capital of the World® in Eagle River, WI to explore the Northwoods by sled and experience some wintertime fun.
Since this was only my second time snowmobiling, I had some mixed feelings—nervous, cautious, but also excited too. As you may know, I recently announced that I have a baby on board. Baby Anderson is due May 12th (yes, it’s the Minnesota Fishing Opener and Mother’s Day), so I’m right around 7-months preggers. Knowing that, I laid out some ground rules for myself: Don’t go over 35 mph (speed limit is 55 mph for snowmobiles), go as slow as possible on turns, and allow other sleds to pass me instead of feeling pressure to keep ahead of them. Basically, go at my own pace but be cautious of others.
Wild Eagle Lodge was our home away from home for the weekend. Our lodge is nestled along the shores of Lynx Lake. We had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, living space, a stone fireplace, and a private patio. There’s also an indoor heated pool, hot tub, sauna, lakefront fire pits, and access to complimentary snowshoe rentals which came very handy. There’s even a restaurant on site called “The Blue Heron.”
Since we had a two-bedroom accommodation, we invited up a couple of our friends who were visiting family nearby. Sam and Tyler came up for some R&R and both said they thought the lodging was great. All in all, it’s a very cozy and inviting place for the winter! I’m guessing Wild Eagle Lodge is a lot busier in the summer with pontoons and fishing boat rentals, which you can take onto the chain of lakes. But I love winter cabining for the simple fact that it feels more cozy, quiet, and quaint.
Renting snowmobiles & some pro tips
We had our snowmobiles arranged with Track Side, not too far from Wild Eagle Lodge. I chatted with Chris, the general manager, who had some great advice and fun facts on snowmobiling in the Snowmobile Capital of the World:
- The trails are groomed by volunteers at the Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club Inc. as well as other snowmobile clubs in the surrounding areas
- There is always plenty of snow with snowfall beginning as early as October and continuing through March or even later
- Eagle River is home to the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, the Amsoil World Championship Snowmobile Derby, and the Eagle River “500” which covers over 500 miles of some of the best groomed trails
- There are lots of snowmobile-friendly stops in this neck of the woods. Businesses expect snowmobiles to park in front of their building and come in for lunch and take a restroom break!
- Need help navigating the snowmobile trails? There’s an app for that! Map It Vilas County is a one-stop-shop app for planning your route and navigating the trails, whether you are on a snowmobile, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, hunting, horseback riding, snowshoeing, etc. You can narrow down your trails by choosing the “snowmobile” category and “Eagle River” as the location. This leads to an interactive map where you can see exactly where you are on the trails and different points of interest along the trails. Map It Vilas County is available on iTunes and Google Play.
Needless to say, I had a blast exploring the Northwoods by sled. The trails groomed by Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club were fantastic, even with the snow starting to melt. At one point, it all felt very dreamlike with fluffy white chunks of snow gently falling, the majestic white pines towering over me along the trails, and the other riders were all very friendly even when I was going at a slow pace.
The local scene
Whenever we go somewhere new, we always eat local. We had dinner at Eddie B’s White Spruce Inn for Friday Night Fish Fry. The fish fry was fantastic and golden battered, just how I like it. But we also tried something totally new to us—smelt. Fried smelt sort of reminds me of frying up bait fish. I’ve caught little smelt before on Chequamegon Bay but usually let them go. Although it just tasted like a very thin white fish, I’ll probably skip the smelt next time. Sticking to the cheese curds!
We also had dinner the following day at The Blue Heron. Because it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I took advantage of the corned beef and cabbage + Guinness onion soup special. So good! No regrets there.
While the boys were out snowmobiling, Sam and I decided to go to Eagle River’s “Main Street.” We were surprised that a lot of stores were closed for the season, but there were a few open too. We swung by the Country Store of Eagle River and got some decadent treats. I have a sweet tooth, specifically for local treats. So naturally, we got chocolate covered turtles, chocolate covered Oreo, sea salt caramel chocolate, and chocolate fudge. We were delighted with our choices.
We also met a new friend while perusing The Hiker Box: a rescue pup named Timber. She was a sweetie and definitely took a liking to Sam, who is probably the biggest dog-lover I know. The Hiker Box is an outdoor gear store with a surprising amount of products for the outdoor enthusiast, including snowshoes, camping gear, hiking shoes and clothes, maps, backpacking food, and other gizmos and gadgets.
The Snowmobile Capital of the World lives up to its name. I think I might be spoiled having experienced my first Wisconsin snowmobiling trip at a snowmobile mecca, but I’m thankful for the opportunity!
You can plan for your upcoming snowmobile trip or better yet, plan ahead for next year by booking your rentals and lodging right now. There is a list of Vilas County itineraries to help you get started.
Thank you to Vilas County for #sponsoring and making this post possible. As always, all opinions are my own.