Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

Sault Ste. Marie: Snowmobiling Paradise and the Pinnacle of Winter Racing

By Sault Ste. Marie Convention/Tourism Bureau

Nestled in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, Sault Ste. Marie stands as a favorite for snowmobiling enthusiasts, offering an extensive network of groomed trails and hosting the world-renowned International-500 Snowmobile Race. With an annual average snowfall of 120 inches, this winter wonderland transforms into a snowy paradise, inviting riders of all levels to experience the thrill of its diverse snowmobiling scene.

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

The International-500 Snowmobile Race: A Legacy of Endurance

At the heart of Sault Ste. Marie’s snowmobiling legacy lies the International-500 Snowmobile Race. This iconic event has been a staple since 1969, attracting riders and spectators alike to witness the pulse-pounding action. Taking place on the first Saturday of February each year, the I-500 is a grueling 500-mile endurance race that tests the mettle of the best drivers in the world.

Over the years, efforts have been made to enhance the racetrack, creating a more welcoming environment for the thousands of attendees who flock to Sault Ste. Marie annually. The Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau is helping lead plans to revitalize the area, eventually transforming it into a year-round entertainment hub. For now, the I-500 remains a significant highlight for those planning an unforgettable snowmobiling vacation.

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

 

Beyond the Race: Exploring Sault Ste. Marie’s Snowmobiling Scene

A closer look at the Sault Ste. Marie snowmobiling scene reveals a haven of fun and excitement for riders of all experience levels. From leisurely Sunday cruises to extended expeditions into the heart of the Upper Peninsula, Sault Ste. Marie offers a diverse range of experiences.

Navigating the trails directly from within the city has never been easier, as most Sault Ste. Marie streets permit snowmobiles. This snowmobile-friendly environment allows riders to traverse the town, refuel their sleds, and explore locally owned coffee shops for a quick bite and a caffeine boost. The city trails seamlessly connect to the main regional trail system through the 12’ x 12’ “Soo Tunnel,” conveniently located beneath Interstate-75 just south of the I-500 track. Remarkably, you can even ride your sled directly from your hotel room to the trailhead.

Once you hit the trails, you’ll discover a labyrinth of routes connecting small communities, national forests, state forest lands, snow-covered hills, and plains across the region. Touring the EUP by snowmobile is both exhilarating and awe-inspiring. Some believe it’s the best way to experience the UP during the winter months. As you traverse the snow-covered landscapes, encounters with wildlife and hidden gems, such as tucked-away restaurants and taverns, add to the adventure.

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

Venturing deeper into the trail system by heading west on the ever-popular Trail #8 toward Brimley reveals a spectacular view. This trail leads through the Hiawatha National Forest and includes the Mission Hill Overlook, offering breathtaking views of Monocle Lake and, just beyond that, Lake Superior. Continuing west past Bay Mills brings you to the Point Iroquois Lighthouse, a historical landmark that adds charm to the snowmobiling journey.

Trail #8 is a must-ride for all snowmobilers looking to take in the Upper Peninsula’s unparalleled beauty. It leads straight to Paradise, Michigan, along Lake Superior, with nearby Whitefish Point just ahead. Although the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is closed during the winter, this stop allows riders to behold the vastness of the Big Lake.

The adventure doesn’t end there. You can take your sled directly to one of Michigan’s most famous locations, Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The two waterfalls at the state park epitomize the Upper Peninsula’s spectacular winter beauty. The Upper Falls, one of the most powerful waterfalls east of the Mississippi, should be on every snowmobiler’s bucket list. Additionally, the area hosts the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, offering dine-in and takeout options that make even the coldest rides worthwhile.

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

Throughout your westward adventure from the Soo, you’ll encounter numerous small towns and villages like Bay Mills, Raco, Newberry, and Paradise. These areas offer ideal pit stops to refuel your sled and explore local attractions. Whether you choose to continue further west into the heart of the Upper Peninsula or circle back to the Soo, the mostly flat trails and abundant stopping points make it all possible.

One of the hallmarks of Sault Ste. Marie’s snowmobiling experience is the quality of its trails. Riders will undoubtedly notice the hard work and dedication poured into molding these trails into some of the best in the entire Midwest. The Sault Ste. Marie Snowmobile Association, a collective of volunteers, plays a pivotal role in building and maintaining these trails. Grooming a dozen trails in the area, they provide over 100 miles of well-maintained snowmobiling bliss.

Each fall, these dedicated volunteers check the area to ensure proper signage is in place and clear any branches or brush that protrude onto the trail. As soon as snowfall begins, the grooming process commences, ensuring optimal conditions for snowmobilers. The association serves as an invaluable resource for planning your snowmobiling trip to the Soo, offering updates on the trail systems and information on regulations for snowmobiling within city limits.

Sault Ste. Marie beckons snowmobilers to a winter wonderland that seamlessly blends the thrill of the I-500 Snowmobile Race with the excitement of vast, well-groomed trails. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a newcomer to the snowmobiling scene, the diverse offerings of Sault Ste. Marie promise an unforgettable winter adventure. Embark on a journey where the landscape is blanketed in snow, the trails are meticulously groomed, and the thrill of the ride is only matched by the breathtaking beauty of the Upper Peninsula.

Sault Ste. Marie,I-500,Upper Peninsula

Scroll to Top