The Grant J. Hunt Company does a significant amount of marketing beyond our produce sales. In fact, we were recently awarded the Union Gap, WA tourism account. One of our first areas of business was to update the Union Gap website and to launch a blog. This blog isn't produce related, however, if you're touring the Yakima Valley during snowmobile season, let us know, it's possible we could arrange a ride!
You can find this blog on the Union Gap tourism page at http://www.visituniongap.com/union-gap-blog-detail.php?id=4
The Yakima Valley is known for its beautiful summers, terrific and
bountiful harvests of fruits and vegetables and its four seasons of
outdoor activities. One sport that often gets overlooked when you think
about the Yakima Valley is snowmobiling. This blog entry is targeted
primarily at newer or inexperienced riders who haven't been to this area
before, as many people don't understand how close snowmobiling can be
in the Yakima Valley.
Snowmobile season is just around the corner, and riders are eager to
get their sleds out on the trails. Avid sledders (as snowmobilers are
known) know that from the Yakima Valley you are often less than an hour
away from multiple trailheads that lead to literally hundreds of miles
of trails. Whether you are an experienced rider or just a beginner,
there is something for everyone.
From Union Gap, the closest Sno-Park is the Ahtanum Sno-Park which is
just over 20 miles from the city center. From December into late spring
you'll find sledders of all ages and skill levels enjoying the groomed
trails and play areas of Ahtanum Meadows. There is a large sno-park at
Ahtanum Meadows, actually the largest one you'll find in the region
unless you head up to Cle Elum, WA. Weekends get pretty busy, so head up
early if you're going on a Saturday or Sunday ride, during the week
there are very few sledders out there and you'll likely spend the day
riding with just you and your friends.
There are miles and miles of groomed trails and several directions
for you to choose from. The trails are all adequately marked and
relatively easy to follow, although it is still important to watch your
route carefully and we suggest you either download a trail map from the
website or pick one up at one of the ranger stations. Here are some
simple tips and even a few myths that 'newbies' might appreciate about
- Snowmobiling can be very cold, but often isn't as cold as one
thinks. Similar to skiing actually. On a nice sunny day, you are warmer
than you think, and the sleds give off more heat than you think. So, if
you're passing on a chance to snowmobile just because you're afraid
you'll be too cold, we suggest you talk to an experienced rider who can
help outfit you with the appropriate winter clothing.
- Did you know that most sleds have handwarmers and even a thumbwarmer
on the handle bars? Many people don't realize this and are surprised
when they go out for the first time and someone shows them how to
operate their handwarmers, they are always pleasantly surprised!
- Food is a must on any sledding adventure and people can get very
creative. Sandwiches are the norm, but many riders have some sort of
'hot-dogger' which is a unit you can attach to the muffler of the sled
underneath the hood and you can heat up food while you ride. It is
common for riders to heat up hot dogs, burritos, pizza pockets,
breakfast burritos and more while they are riding. When it is time for
lunch, you open the hot dogger and you have a nice hot meal to eat.
Always a fun reveal with newbies!
- Safety is number one on the trail, and you must be alert at all
times. It is customary to follow normal driving methods, with traffic
going staying on their respective right and left sides as you are on the
trail. If you encounter riders coming in the opposite direction, you
indicate with your fingers how many riders are behind you. If you are
riding with a group of 4 people, and you are in the front, you hold up 3
fingers to the oncoming sleds so they know there are 3 more riders
behind you. The second rider holds up 2 fingers, the third rider would
hold up 1 and the fourth rider would make a fist to show there are no
more riders behind them. You should also be especially cautious around
corners, as riders coming in the opposite direction don't always adhere
to the rules of the trail.
- It is important to let someone who isn't sledding know where
you are headed, just in case you run into some issue on the trail. Make
sure you tell them which sno-park you are headed to, who else is riding,
and an estimated time you'll be back. It is also not advised to ever
- You should know your limitations while riding also. Sledding is fun,
but an experienced rider can make difficult maneuvers look simple. Make
sure you understand how to shift your weight, how to lean and more,
definitely stay on the groomed portions of the trails until you become
- Always ride with the buddy system. You never want to be caught alone
on a sled, and it is easy to separate from a pack and end up miles away
from each other before you know it. You'll be amazed how quiet it can
be on the trails as well, and often times you don't hear other sleds
until they're pretty close to you.
- Always wear a helmet when riding.
- Talk to the people you are riding with about the type of snow you'll
be sledding on. Powder, ice, freshly groomed ... every type of snow can
have a different of experience. For example, if you are riding in deep
and heavy snow, it is easier to get stuck. By knowing the type of snow
and the limitations it might have, you'll enjoy your day more.
- Make sure you have a sno-park pass for your vehicle or you will be fined.
Snowmobiling can be a real rush, and a day spent on the trails, in
the fresh air, surrounded by beautiful views everywhere is a day you
won't quickly forget. We are fortunate to have so many great areas to
ride that are so close to Union Gap and the Yakima Valley. Sno-parks are
located at Ahtanum Meadows and there are also multiple sno-parks on
both Chinook and White Pass. So bundle up, pack your food and prepare
yourself for a great day of sledding. We have a feeling you'll be
quickly addicted to this wonderful sport!