Snowmobile to scenic views south of Minturn |

Snowmobile to scenic views south of Minturn

Jon Sheppard
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Jon Sheppard

As you journey south out of Minturn, you wind up over the abandoned cluster of buildings known as Gilman, a once-thriving mining area and now a sleepy ghost town. Dropping down the South side of Battle Mountain pass, you cross over the “rainbow bridge.” To your left is the small mountain community of Red Cliff. Highway 24 curves onward to historic Camp Hale. This is where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II for winter combat and skiing. And this is also where Nova Guides makes a home for winter snowmobiling. The large and beautiful rustic log cabin is their base of operations. An exciting adventure awaits those going into the high back country.

First step: proper equipment. Nova Guides furnishes boots, snowsuit and a helmet. Snowmobilers should bring warm gloves, goggles, a neck gaiter and sunglasses.

With the group dressed in the appropriate attire, it’s time to head outside to the snowmobiles. Your guide will share proper operating procedures and the route where the group will be going. And oh yes: The trails are groomed just like the ski slopes, which makes driving these super machines fun and easy. With many trails to chose from, this group travels out over the flat valley and winds up Resolution Road. With the wind in your face and the beautiful landscape all around, it is a rush. Oh yes, the hand grips to guide the snowmobile are warmed from the engine so your hands also stay warm.

Up higher, the group travels among the snow-covered Aspen trees. In a short while we have come to a high ridge and several hundred feet above timberline. It is a chance to take a break and hop off your snowmobile and gather in the awesome views. For many folks, this is their first snowmobile trip and the excitement they share with each other is contagious. The silence from the machines is precious. People start getting the cameras out and take pictures of the surrounding area and each other. To the Northeast are the Gore Range mountains. And just due west, there is the long time land mark, Mount of the Holy Cross. At 14,005 feet, it is one of 54 mountains here in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet. To the Southwest is Mount Elbert, which at 14,433 feet tall is the highest mountain in the state. A way to the south you can see the far distant Sangre De Cristo Range. This is one of the most spectacular places to be. On a really clear day you can see one day short of forever.

Well it’s not over yet, we have another trail to get us back down to the bottom and fun it is. Crank up your machine and get a blast in the face. All too soon the trip ends back at the shop and it’s time to have some hot chocolate and perhaps lunch. What a wonderful day to remember and the folks on the trip will cherish that time for many years to come.

Jon Sheppard is an Avon photographer who leads photo safari trips around Colorado, the West and around the world. For more information, visit or call 970-949-9131.

The Vail Daily wants to publish your travel essay. Are you an Eagle County resident who recently jetsetted somewhere? Or maybe you took a road trip. Tell us about your journey in 700 words or less. We also want to hear from tourists about their experiences in the Vail area. Send at least one high resolution photograph. E-mail entries to

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