ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) — Snowmobilers in parts of Vermont and New Hampshire predict a busy year on the region’s trails as an outlet for riders seeking safe activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some are expecting snowmobiling to be one of the outdoor activities people gravitate towards this winter because riders don't typically come into close contact with others.
“Based on what happened this spring and summer with outdoor recreation, we’re assuming if there’s good snowfall then snowmobiling will be more popular than it has been in the past few years,” said Dan Gould, the executive director of the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association.
Weather permitting, the snowmobile trails in both states open in December.
Walt’s Sales & Service in Derby is reporting that snowmobile sales are up at least 10% and more than 30% at MOMS North Country Powersports in Groveton, New Hampshire, according to the Caledonian Record.
“It’s been huge. The problem now is we can’t get inventory. We’re exceeding what the manufacturers can produce,” said MOMS General Manager Larry Meservy, Jr. “Our growth last year was phenomenal, and this year, we’re on track to break another record."
Out-of-state tourists and second-home owners account for a significant share of snowmobile traffic in the region.
Travel restrictions for people coming into the region from outside and restrictions on restaurants and other retail establishments could impact the activity.
Chris Roese, president of the Brighton Snowmobile Club, said he was confident that out-of-state or out-of-area snowmobilers will conform to rules designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s definitely a delicate situation, in particular up here because of the nature of the visitors and landowners up here," he said. "It’s a hot spot for vacations. We’re just going to have to adapt accordingly and hold on.”