Trans Montana Ride Brings Fun, & Fund Raising to Snowmobile Trails
Riding snowmobiles is one of the best parts of a Montana winter. But it's even better when you can combine the fun, with fundraising.
And that's exactly what dozens of riders did this month, riding hundreds of miles of some of the best trails under the Big Sky during the 2023 Trans Montana Charity Snowmobile Ride, which recently completed its circuit of the state.
Every year, some of the most dedicated riders from all over the region gather for the multi-day ride, which organizers say was a huge success this year, helping to not only promote the sport and Montana outdoors but raise tens of thousands of dollars to help with mental health issues.
A blast, but the bucks are directed to important issues
Trans Montana, organized through the Montana Snowmobile Association, focuses donations to NAMI Montana, the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. That's brought tens of thousands of dollars over the year to help with teen suicide prevention and helping veterans cope with PTSD. This year the ride raised over $27,000.
Sometimes it's stormy, but this year was perfect
Over 30 full-time riders made the circuit, along with some riders who will join in for a single day. Organizers tell me the group enjoyed "near-perfect weather and snow conditions and something for every type of rider".
Riders started in Lincoln, with stops at Kings Hill, near the Showdown Ski Area, Helena, Wise River, and Virginia City before ending in West Yellowstone, where the Chamber of Commerce hosted a dinner for all the riders. Local clubs host the Trans Montana group, helping to organize routes and support for the visitors, including many who drive thousands of miles for the ride.
Saturday, the riders were joined by the MSA in Helena for the annual awards banquet and auction, with 50 sleds taking part in a ride near Elliston. Six riders took home special awards.
-Long Haul Award (rider that traveled the furthest--Jason Ross, St. Paul, MN)
-Cheer-man Award (happiest and most helpful rider--Chris Linsley, Bend, OR)
-Snowed-In Award (stuck the deepest/most often--Otto Johnson, Helena)
-Dollar Scholar (raised the most money--Wally Deschene, Stevensville)
-Most Senior Rider (elder statesman of the group--Jon Seaman, Great Falls 75 years young)
Finally, the Dog Bone Award, was given to Diane Larson from Durango, Colorado for achieving the most "special maneuvers", or in other words, getting stuck."
-Special thanks to Mark Smolen for the Trans Montana details, photos, and for hosting me on last year's ride.
READ MORE: The Trans Montana Charity Ride webpage