How Old Do You Have to Be to Drive a Snowmobile

Snowmobile age requirements differ across the US and Canadian Provinces. Many states require a rider to be 16 years old with a valid driver’s license, and often you are required to complete a snowmobile safety course.

My name is Chaz, and I grew up snowmobiling in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I started riding when I was around ten years old, and to be honest, I’m not sure what the age restrictions were at the time. 

In this article, I’ll show you some of the age restrictions for operating a snowmobile based on the different regions of North America.

Some places don’t have regulations in place, but you should always check before letting younger riders hit the throttle. 

Pull out your driver’s license and keep reading.

Why Have Age Restrictions? 

Similar to a car, driving a snowmobile comes with a certain amount of risk. Age restrictions have been established to ensure that everyone who operates a sled is competent and capable of making good decisions and driving safely. 

Young children might not have a good idea of the inherent risks involved in driving any fast-moving machine. They also might not be physically capable of keeping it under control at all times. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I started driving a snowmobile when I was around ten years old. I don’t remember the exact age, but I was young. This may or may not have been in line with the age restrictions in Colorado at the time. 

If you want to teach your kids or another rider how to operate a snowmobile, make sure you stress the importance of safety and always have them wear a helmet when they ride. 

Age restrictions are arbitrary, but they serve as a barrier to entry that prevents accidents and makes sure the trails are safe for everyone.

How Old You Have to Be to Drive a Snowmobile: Regional Requirements

Since there is no universal rule on how old you have to be to ride a snowmobile, I’m going to list some of the most popular states and provinces here to help you figure out what the requirements are in your area. 

If you don’t see your area listed here or live outside of North America, check with your local or regional government to clarify. 

Colorado

In my home state, no one under the age of 10 can operate a snowmobile unless they are on private land owned by their guardian. Kids under ten can drive a sled if they are under the supervision of someone over 16. 

Minnesota

Twelve years old is the age requirement in the land of 10,000 lakes. Everyone 12 years and older born after December 31, 1976, has to take a state-approved snowmobile safety course and earn a certificate to ride on public lands. 

New York

Anyone between 10 and 18 is required to take a state-approved safety course and earn a certificate to ride on public lands. Riders between 10 and 14 must be accompanied by a person at least 18 years old within 500 feet. 

Vermont

Twelve years or older born after July 1, 1983, have to take a safety course and carry a certificate on public lands. Ages 13-15 can ride on public lands when supervised by someone over 18. 

Michigan

Those under age 12 can only drive under the direct supervision of an adult unless on private property. Ages 12-17 need to have a valid snowmobile safety certification with them while riding unless under the supervision of someone 21 years or older. 

Wisconsin

Twelve years or older born after January 1, 1985, are required to take a state-approved safety course.

Montana 

If you don’t have a valid driver’s license, you must pass a state-approved safety course and keep the certificate on you when riding on public lands. Riders under age 16 must be under the supervision of an adult. 

Utah

Anyone between the ages of 8 and 15 must take a state-approved safety course to ride on public lands. If you are 16 or older with a valid driver’s license, there are no restrictions. 

Alberta

Fourteen years old is the age limit in Alberta. 

Manitoba

Riders must be 16 years old with a valid driver’s license to cross public roads. Under the age of 14 must be supervised and accompanied by an adult within clear view who is 18 years or older. 

British Columbia

Must be 16 years or older or meet certain exemptions if younger.

Saskatchewan

Must complete a provincial safety course if born after January 1, 1989. An adult must accompany any rider 12 years or older without a valid driver’s license. 

FAQs

Here are some other common questions that relate to snowmobile age requirements. 

Is it illegal to ride a snowmobile without a helmet?

This is another regulation that varies from state to state and region to region. Not all places have helmet laws in place. But no matter if it’s a set law or not, I would highly recommend wearing a helmet at all times – it can save your life!

How old do you have to be to drive a skidoo?

Snowmobiles are referred to in different ways in different regions. Some places I’ve been in Canada call every machine a skidoo. While that’s technically a specific brand, what’s not specific is the age requirements to ride one. These again vary by region.  

Can you ride a snowmobile without snow? 

Technically, yes. Your snowmobile will drive on dirt or grass. This is not what the machine was designed for, so I wouldn’t recommend trying this unless you have plenty of experience operating one. 

The Bottom Line

Age requirements are different, depending on where you ride. If you live on private property, there may not be any age limits at all. Always double-check with your local government or authorities to be sure of the requirements specific to where you live or ride. 

Safety is the main reason age restrictions exist for snowmobilers. If you are out riding with a kid, be sure to teach them all you can about safe driving so they can enjoy the sport for years to come!

What are the age requirements to ride a snowmobile where you live? How old were you when you started riding?   

About Chaz Wyland
I’m a snowmobile fanatic. I live for riding and am out on the trails or backcountry as often as possible during the winter months. I was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains and have snowmobiled in dozens of North American locations. When the snow is falling, you’ll find me on a sled.

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