SARANAC LAKE — New York wants to boost the winter-tourism industry in the North Country and across the state through snowmobiling.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Feb. 16 announced that New York State will host a free snowmobiling weekend for all out-of-state and Canadian snowmobilers March 14-15.
During the promotional weekend, the state will waive fees for visitors from out of state with “properly registered and insured” vehicles who want use New York’s nearly 10,500 miles of snowmobile trails.
Cuomo made the announcement before snowmobiling with his three daughters — Cara, Mariah, and Michaela — at Saranac Lake.
Participants in the free snowmobiling weekend must operate a snowmobile with valid registration in their home state or Canadian province and must carry any applicable insurance as required by their home state or province.
Non-New Yorkers who wish to use a snowmobile in New York before or after this promotional weekend can use the “NYS registration for out-of-state snowmobile” service to get a 15-day registration and operate their snowmobile here immediately. The state DMV will send a permanent registration in the mail.
The tourism promotion agency I Love NY will promote the weekend by launching a digital and social-media campaign targeting out-of-state snowmobiling enthusiasts.
To further support the snowmobiling community this season, the state has awarded $4.2 million in local grants for snowmobile trail maintenance and grooming across New York.
Sledders can get more information about snowmobiling at destinations such as the Tug Hill Plateau, along with updated information about the free snowmobiling weekend at iloveny.com, the governor’s office said.
New York State says it supports snowmobiling with a Statewide Snowmobile Trail System traversing 45 counties, maintained by about 230 clubs, and funded through 51 municipal sponsors.
Snowmobiling tourism economic impact
Cuomo’s office cites a 2011 study by SUNY Potsdam indicating that the state’s snowmobiling community has a seasonal economic impact of $868 million.
Winter-tourism activities also support economic growth across the state, generating nearly $14.4 billion in direct visitor spending, per Cuomo’s office. The North Country attracted more than 13 million visitors in 2018, up 21.6 percent since 2011. Direct spending increased by more than 23 percent to $1.26 billion.
“New York is home to more than 10,000 miles of some of the best snowmobiling trails in the nation, all with the backdrop of stunning natural beauty that has to be seen to believe,” Cuomo said. “With this free snowmobiling weekend, we are encouraging visitors from far and wide to come to the North Country and points between, experience our great outdoor recreational activities for themselves and further strengthen New York’s booming tourism industry.”