Wisconsin News

Snowmobile season disappointment to area businesses

LA CROSSE, Wis. - When there's plenty of snow on the ground, the snowmobile season can bring in thousands of dollars for area businesses.

While the temperatures stayed consistently chilly this winter, snow coverage on the La Crosse County Snowmobile trails was anything but consistent.

After a bad snowmobile season last winter from lack of snow, snowmobilers and local businesses were hoping to make up for lost time this year, but it wasn't the comeback they were hoping for.

President of the La Crosse County Snowmobile Alliance Steven Falkenberg, said the conditions were significantly better than last year, but it was still a patchy season.


Occasional high winds and ice made it difficult to keep the trails groomed and ready for traffic.

"I can't remember a year where we had to open and close our trail six different times. In a way it's good but on the other hand, usually we'd leave them open longer. We were so borderline. The counties east and north of us definitely saw a big improvement," said Falkenberg.

Local businesses along the snowmobile trails said it's an important source of business for them.

The owner of Billy's Lantern in La Crosse, Bill Silha said even though he saw waves of customers when the trails were open, there's no way to make up for a bad season.

"There's really no recovering. It's not like you can go back and get that business back. If the snow's not there you pretty much miss out on the business you could have possibly gotten," said Silha.

There are 175 miles of snowmobile trails in La Crosse County.

During the snowmobile season volunteers try to get out and groom the trails at least two to three times a week.   

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association says snowmobiling generates $23 billion in the United States each year.

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