How Much Snow Do You Need to Ride a Snowmobile?

We use affiliate links, and may receive a commission if you purchase a product through our links. Learn more

Winter recreational activities like skiing and snowmobiling must be done in the snow.

Some people ignore the fact that there should be enough snow to be able to enjoy these activities.

As snowmobiles are designed to work on snow and ice, there is no need for marked trails or a road. But their use is still limited chiefly to open terrain and ice trails.

A few requirements need to be satisfied for a controlled and safe ride on a snowmobile.

So let’s answer the first question: what is the snow requirement for snowmobiling?

snow requirement for snowmobiling

How Much Snow Do You Need for Snowmobiling?

You need approximately 6 inches of snow for riding a snowmobile.

If the snowmobile is light, you can ride it on 4 to 5 inches of snow, but if you’re riding a heavy snowmobile, you need at least 6 inches.

But, to be on the safe side, it’s better to go riding when snow is more than 6 inches.

Factors That Influence Minimum Snow Requirement

The minimum depth of the snow is the primary thing to consider other than weather and terrain before riding a snowmobile.

This minimum depth required differs for every snowmobile model and depends on a few factors mentioned below.


As more weight means more immersion of the skis in the snow, a more solid base and a few inches of snow are necessary for leisurely riding the snowmobile.

So if the snowmobile is light, about 4 inches of snow with a solid base will suffice. Heavier ones require 6-8 inches based on the weight.

how much snow do you need for riding a snowmobile

Base Ground

Another factor that influences the minimum depth required is the ground beneath the snow.

While riding a snowmobile on a frozen lake, there is not much snow depth needed, and it can be as minimum as 2 inches based on the thickness of the ice.

A thin base with solid ground below will require a minimum of 4-5 inches of snow to prevent the skis from directly coming in contact with the ground.

The Material of the Tracks

The material of the track also influences the minimum snow requirement to a small extent. Older snowmobiles used rubber tracks and skis made of metal or composites.

As the earlier models with rubber left a heavy trail on the rear, the minimum snow requirement for snowmobiling was considered 6-8 inches.

Modern snowmobiles have sturdy and durable tracks made of Kevlar composite, which can withstand contact with the ground.

So 2-4 inches of deep snow with a good base will be enough for a safe ride. Be careful riding through bottomless snow as your snowmobile can get stuck.

Why Should You Not Ride a Snowmobile in Less Snow?

There are various reasons for not riding a snowmobile with low snow depth.

Some of them can be for the safety of the driver and others for the safety and efficient working of the snowmobile. The different reasons are as follows.

  • Not being able to drive with enough control and leisurely is one reason for not using a snowmobile with very little snow. So having a good base with a minimum of 4 inches is recommended.
  • Low snow implies a higher risk of contact between the ground and the snowmobile tracks. This can cause damage to the ground leaving behind tracks and the trails and skis in the long run.
  • Contact with the ground means driving on the dirt instead of snow. So the snowmobile will require cleaning every time after driving in low snow conditions.
  • In the long run, riding in low snow conditions can cause damage to the tracks and skis. Older rubber tracks are not durable, so avoiding thin, slow depths is better.
  • In summer, snowmobiles are used for drag racing on grass or asphalt strips, which is not the machine’s intended use and causes damage to the snowmobile and can lead to accidents.
  • Sledding across small water bodies like lakes or ponds using snowmobiles is a hazardous sport that has come up in recent times and can cause severe accidents to the driver if not careful.
snow needed for snowmobiling

Final Words

Snowmobiling and skiing are some of the excellent sports that are played in winter and thoroughly.

The main thing to be considered while snowmobiling is to be safe.

Don’t forget to check that your snowmobile backpack contains all the essential gear like your anti-fog goggles, communicators, etc.

You must also check whether the snowmobile is in perfect condition and if there is enough snow to enjoy an adventurous sledding experience.

While snowmobiling is essential, making sure there is no damage to the machine, property, or personnel.

So overall, follow all the instructions for safety and make sure to have an action-packed adventure with your snowmobile.

Photo of author


Thomas Miller
Thomas is an adventurous man from Colorado. He likes to ride snowmobiling in the harsh cold weather. Along with snowmobiling, he is also involved in the combat sports like boxing.

Leave a Comment