Dickinson County SnowHawks Maintain 120 Miles of County Trails
The glittery of white snowflakes fluttering through gray skies inwardly brings delight to a group of Dickinson County individuals. These men and women, boys and girls have a passion for snowmobiling and love exploring the area’s unique landscape.
The Dickinson County SnowHawks was started in the 1970s and consists of all ages and a multitude of families. The county’s snowmobiling club’s main purpose is to maintain 120 miles of county trails, which takes place through a $30 season membership and the help of a 2010 Prinoth Trooper Groomer. The club’s groomer has also been used to help law enforcement or with a hospital call during severe weather conditions.
“Snowmobiling is something kids and adults can do together,” said current SnowHawks Director Kevin Winters. “No matter the weather, snowmobiling allows you to get to every town in Dickinson County as long as the trail is groomed.”
SnowHawks have six certified groomers for the one-person job. These trained individuals use the groomer to create a nine-foot wide road bed for snowmobilers along county roads and specialized trails throughout Dickinson County. Depending on the weather, the groomer can be out for three to four hours or up to 15-16 hours a day. Winters said prior to Winter Games, in good snow years, the groomer is going 24-7 to prepare for the busy weekend.
“I really enjoy grooming, and it’s something fun to do when you can’t go snowmobiling,” he said. “I enjoy keeping the trails clean and like to see everyone out enjoying the trails during the winter months.”
Relationships also grow stronger through involvement in SnowHawks, as families build strong relationships with each other. Weekend snowmobile rides to area restaurants or trips throughout the county create strong bonds of friendship. There are individuals who enjoy vintage rides or travel to snowmobile races. Others love a leisurely ride on our trails to an area sponsor or exploring the outskirts of Big Spirit. No matter what, whether experienced or not, the SnowHawks take care of each other.
“Being a part of SnowHawks has allowed me to develop relationships with people I wouldn’t know otherwise,” said Jantina Carney, SnowHawks Publicity Director. “We love meeting new people, and if you’re new to snowmobiling, we are going to take care of you and show you how to ride and where to go. We don’t leave anyone behind.”
A family’s club membership for an entire season is $30, going directly to Dickinson County SnowHawks. The funds help pay for signage, grooming and fuel, which can cost between three to five dollars a mile and up to $2,000 a year. The higher the year’s membership, the more miles of trails Dickinson County SnowHawks can clear and maintain for snowmobile enjoyment. Membership also includes a multitude of discounts from over 20 local businesses and eating establishments, ranging from 20% off parts, accessories, and apparel to major food discounts.
“You break a belt and your $30 investment combined with the 20-25% discount from a business ends up saving you money,” Carney said. “We have some great businesses that help and support us every year.”
The SnowHawks want to show how the Iowa Great Lakes Area is much more than a summer destination. Their group of volunteers work hard to promote the area during the winter months as well.
“We want to show how Okoboji is much more than a summer destination,” said Stephanie Parks, Events Coordinator.
Parks said some people think the only place to go exploring is the mountains, but are then surprised with how much fun snowmobiling is around here.
“Make sure to always support your local trails and it’s not a lot of work to go riding for an afternoon,” she added.
Only via snowmobile can a person travel the scenic rail bed, the canals of Miller’s Bay or have the ability to loop around every single Dickinson County lake during the snowy, winter months. Parks also said snowmobiling teaches kids how to be better drivers, as they have to constantly stay aware of their surroundings.
“It’s fun to hop on the snowmobile and not get in a car. You can get to anywhere in the county via snowmobile and the kids love it at any age,” she said.
Carney and Parks also appreciate how snowmobiling brings their families together, which can become harder as children get older.
“I remember when I had a seven-year-old in front of me and now I’m the one left in the dust,” Carney said.
When snow falls in Dickinson County, the SnowHawks are excited for another opportunity to enjoy a winter ride. For new riders, their expression is why volunteer club members like Carney, Parks, and Winters continue to pour hours of time into Dickinson County SnowHawks.
“The smile you see on a child’s face is priceless; especially when it’s the first time they get to ride by themselves,” Carney said. “They are grinning from ear to ear!”
Because no matter the age, everyone is a kid at heart— Dickinson County SnowHawks Love Snow!
Dickinson County SnowHawks meets every second Wednesday of the month from September through April. The non-profit organization supports local establishments, and the month’s location is always announced on the Dickinson County SnowHawks Facebook page and their website www.dickinsoncountysnowhawks.com. Weekly ride announcements are also announced via social media.
Membership fees can be paid at a club meeting or online at dickinsoncountysnowhawks.com/membership. A family membership includes a subscription to the ISSA Iowa Snowmobile magazine and discounts to numerous local supporting businesses. Sponsorship opportunities are also available for the SnowHawks Trail Map, which is a club fund-raiser and can be found at sponsoring businesses.
STATE SNOWMOBILING ASSOCIATION AWARDS
Director of the Year
2018 - Dan Delperdang
Groomer Operator of the Year
2018 - Jeff Koos
2016 - Kevin Winters
2015 - Randy Magg
Youth Snowmobiler of the Year
2013 - Cody Poock, Spirit Lake
Snowmobile Family of the Year
2015 - Dan and Kolette Delperdang & Family
2013 - Jason and Jantina Carney & Family
Dealer of the Year
2016 - J & K
Snowmobiler of the Year
2019 - Tim Cole
2016 - Greg Place
2005 - Mark Tjossem