Sledding The County: Tourism

Published: Jan. 15, 2022 at 9:02 AM EST
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SINCLAIR/CROSS LAKE, Maine (WAGM) -

According to the Maine Snowmobiling Association, the economic impact of snowmobiling in the state of Maine is more than 600 million dollars annually. In this week’s Sledding the County, Brian Bouchard takes a look at snowmobile tourism.

Given the annual snowfall and temperatures of Aroostook County, it is no surprise that as soon as the snow starts falling, those who are attracted to the thrill of snowmobiling, ice fishing, and other winter recreation flock to the County.

“I think the farthest is Arizona…”

Jason Tardiff and Taffy Witham are the owners of Lakeside Lodge in Sinclair. And they say the majority of their business is outdoor enthusiasts from away, looking to experience what the county has to offer.

“a lot of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and upstate New York and long island. They travel 12, 13, 14 hours and a lot times we’ll just get calls saying “How are the trails?” and we want to be honest with them saying “Hey it’s worth making the trip”, if we wouldn’t be out on the trails riding, then we wouldn’t suggest to our guests that they come up either.” says Tardiff.

After coming to the county for many years to snowmobile, the two started Lakeside Lodge in 2020 to provide outdoor recreation tourists with a one-stop shop, lodging, equipment rentals, and knowledge of the area. During spring, summer and fall they also cater to ATV enthusiasts and hunters as well.

“We really like to connect and have a relationship and make sure that every one of our guests has the experience they’re looking for” says Witham.

A little further down the road in Cross Lake, Marci Wilde and Robert Billings recently purchased St. Peter’s Country Store and started a short term snowmobile rental business called Wilde Recreation.

“So we both have been riding up in the county for many years and there have been several instances where someone in our group would have a sled breakdown or want to bring someone new to riding up that didn’t have a sled already, so we saw first hand that there’s a need for it” says Wilde.

To help potentially inexperienced riders, Wilde breaks down their sled rentals to experience levels, making it easy for the rider to get the sled that’s right for them. Positioned along ITS 83, St. Peters and Wilde Recreation also offers lodging to riders, as well as gas, snacks and other essentials while riding the trails.

And there are hundred of small businesses, just like Lakeside Lodge and Wilde Recreation scattered all along the county. People who have fallen in love with what Northern Maine has to offer, and want to share and make it easily accessible to anyone who wants to experience it.

“One thing that’s important about Sinclair or even the county alone, we share, if somebody is calling and we’re booked, we then move on in a radius. I think we try to make sure that everybody gets to enjoy that, and we get the same. Just the other day, Long Lake camp sent us somebody, they were full and they made a reservation with us and it goes back and forth, and I really like that community spirit that we have here.” says Tardiff.

With many snowmobiling events coming up in the next few weeks, its obvious that the many more will make the trek to sled the county.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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