The Northwoods region generally thrives during the winter season, primarily driven by snow-based activities. The absence of snow this particular season has left the typical buzz of snowmobiles in the area silent. Long-time local and president of a snowmobile association, Jon Cooksey, expressed that the current trail conditions and lack of snowfall are unlike anything he’s experienced in decades.
Local snowmobile clubs, which are foundational to the winter sporting community, have been significantly impacted. These organizations, largely operated by volunteers, rely on the grooming of trails to fund their operations. The deficiency in snow has stalled their activities, impeding their income generation that typically supports equipment and maintenance costs.
Financially, the clubs are also experiencing delays in securing funds for upcoming seasons. These funds are typically supplemented by donations, fundraising efforts, and allocations from county and state sources.
Snowmobile clubs across the state are facing similar challenges. Even in previous years with scarce snow in the Northwoods, enthusiasts could seek snow-filled trails slightly further north or in neighboring states. However, this year’s weather conditions have closed off that option as well.
Krystal Westfahl, the Minocqua Visitors Bureau head, has observed a mixed reaction among local business owners. The winter’s mild start, following a robust summer, had some viewing the lull in tourism as a welcome break after several years of consistent visitor flow. Others find the change unsettling, unused to a slowdown in regional tourism.
Despite less intense tourist traffic, reports from some resorts indicate steady reservation numbers. Vacationers are still attracted to the charm of a Northwoods’ lodge or cabin and are finding alternative ways to enjoy their stay in the absence of snow.
Business owners remain hopeful for a sudden snowfall and the rush of winter sports enthusiasts it would bring. Until then, they adapt and appreciate the different pace this unusual season offers.