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Snowmobile Basics—Riding Your Snowmobile
Basic Riding Techniques

Riding Uphill

  • Use the kneeling position.
  • Lean uphill.
  • Increase the throttle to maintain your speed. The deeper the snow, the more speed you need.
  • Don’t stop until you get to the top. If you lose forward momentum, you may not be able to start climbing again.
Riding Uphill
Riding Downhill

Riding Downhill

  • Use the sitting position.
  • Sit as far back on the seat as possible.
  • Stay focused and be prepared to stop—losing control is the greatest hazard.
  • Do not release the clutch. Leaving the snowmobile in low gear helps keep its speed slow.
  • Pump the brake firmly every few seconds to maintain a slow speed or stop. Applying a hard brake abruptly can cause the snowmobile to slide.
  • If you are at the top of a hill and other snowmobiles are coming up, allow them to pass you before going down.

Traversing a Hill

  • Use the kneeling position.
  • Move to the uphill side of the seat, and lean your body uphill.
  • Be aware that your snowmobile may slide on hard-packed snow, which could prevent you from traversing the hill. You may want to look for more loosely packed snow.
Traversing a Hill


  • Lean into turns to gain more control while turning.
  • Placing more body weight forward and into the turn puts more load on the inside ski and keeps it down on the snow, giving it a better bite.


  • Pull over to the extreme right.
  • Get off on the right side.
  • Don’t stop on a curve or hill.

Crossing a Road

  • Select a crossing point that offers good visibility in both directions.
  • Before crossing, come to a complete stop on the shoulder of the road.
  • Look both ways and yield to any traffic on the road.
  • Drive forward slowly because your snowmobile may be difficult to maneuver on pavement.
  • Drive straight across, not at an angle, to minimize the distance you need to travel.
  • It’s common to find large snow banks lining both sides of the road. To drive down a bank, post and lean into the top of the bank as you descend. Never attempt this if a vehicle is approaching. To climb up a bank, lean into the bank and only apply the throttle.
  • When traveling in a group, appoint a crossing guard who crosses the road first. The crossing guard gets off his snowmobile, watches for traffic traveling in both directions and signals while one snowmobile at a time crosses the road.
Iowa Department
of Natural Resources
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Snowmobile Basics
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