Snowmobile tours satisfy seekers of thrills, beauty |

Snowmobile tours satisfy seekers of thrills, beauty

Adam Jensen
Nevada Appeal News Service
Jonah M. Kessel / Tahoe Daily Tribune
Jonah M. Kessel |

Z ipping around some of the 50 miles of groomed trails near Spooner Summit on a snowmobile, it’s easy to losetrack of the fact that you’re in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Climbing hills, gliding through trees and

cruising around corners at speeds of more than 20 mph requires a sense of focus that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to taking in the scenery. It’s only when one emerges from a dense grove of snow-caked conifers near the rim of the basin and takes in the unmistakable view of Lake Tahoe in winter that one realizes the adrenaline generated by snowmobiling may not be the primary draw to Zephyr Cove Resort’s guided snowmobile tours.

But the tours are one of the main winter attractions at the popular summertime haunt, located four miles east of the stateline on Highway 50.

“It’s a great way to see the area up there,” said the resort’s General Manager Chris Burke.

The U.S. Forest Service-owned and Aramark Lake Tahoe-operated resort offers several varieties of snowmobile tours, including two hour, three hour, private and advanced options.

Zephyr Cove Resort also offers snowmobiling packages including a trip on the M.S. Dixie II paddlewheeler and meals at the resort’s restaurant, which is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The most popular snowmobile trip is the approximately two-hour “lakeview” tour, which is scheduled three or four times daily and takes customers up to more than 2,500 feet above Lake Tahoe’s southeast shore, Burke said.

Alabaster, Ala., resident Dana Greenhill marked Thursday’s 9:30 a.m. lakeview tour as her fourth time snowmobiling with Zephyr Cove resort.

Greenhill jokingly considers herself an “extreme tuber” and notes the snowmobile tours are about the right pace for her.

“We had a great time, as usual,” Greenhill said.

Thursday morning’s tour attracted several first-time snowmobilers and left much of the group wanting more.

After being left with that feeling following the lakeview tour on Wednesday, Monterey resident and first-time snowmobiler Sam Jenkinson was motivated to take a private tour on Thursday.

Thursday’s off-trail jaunt left Jenkinson with a rush he said would last for hours.

“It was really incredible,” Jenkinson said. “I would advise everybody to do that. It’s worth it.”

Tours start at $109 for single riders and $149 for those who double up. Private tours usually run about $100 more, Burke said.

Making reservations is a “very good idea,” Burke said, especially when other South Shoe snow sports options are limited.

“You know when we get really busy is when the ski resorts are all on wind hold,” Burke said.

The resort also is willing to work with guests on special requests, which have included treats like lobster dinners at 9,000 feet, Burke said.

As far as the regularly scheduled tours go, each has its own benefits, according to Burke.

Early-morning tours give riders freshly groomed trails and provide excellent light for photography, Burke said. The late morning and early afternoon tours tend to be warmer and are good for kids. Late afternoon tours include great sunset views and are on the more adventurous side because riders will likely need headlights to navigate the end of the tour, Burke said.

For those with access to their own snowmobiles, the trails maintained by the resort are also open to the public free of charge.

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