Snowbowl Mountain Scooters

Snowbowl Mountain Scooters

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Some adventures with the kids are meant to be true adventures, or dangerous as the definition of the word sometimes implies. Others are meant to be of the leisurely sort like camping. Riding down a mountain on a scooter is definitely the former.

Montana Snowbowl in Missoula offers this experience during the summer on modified scooters called Digglers (a now defunct brand). Digglers have knobby tires, front suspension and handlebar brakes and are available for rent at the ski area.

Having never ridden mountain scooters, we decided to do the top to bottom run. A 12 minute lift ride up the Grizzly Chair with our scooters trailing close behind us in empty chairs put us about 2/3rds up Snowbowl mountain at approximately 7,000 feet. The base lodge was “only” 2,000 feet below us. We elected to take roads down and avoid the steeper and faster green run Second Thought that gets you to the bottom.  As an FYI, a green run during ski season that is considered the easy way down is actually a very fast and steep descent for scooters and mountain bikes.

We started down The Breeze, or route 5 on the mountain bike trail map from the top of the Grizzly Chair, about 8 miles of downhill.  Five minutes in as I turned around to check on Casey who was lagging behind due to a rubbing tire, I got sideways and slammed into a rocky slope.  Our only accident of the day!  But not our only incident as we’ll see.

We cruised downhill at a decent pace, sometimes reasonably fast and sometimes more gradual on flatter sections.  The instructions for everyone was to stay in sight of each other and to stop at all intersections as there are a few side roads and trails on this particular course.  Everything went as planned until about 2/3rds of the way down – Wyatt, 12 years old and the speed demon who was in the lead, blew through an intersection without stopping and turned right instead of left. He apparently also whizzed past multiple signs that said Bike Park ends, turn around, and private property ahead. He ended up down Butler Creek road, a downhill dirt road that eventually takes you down to the freeway and must have added 5 or 6 miles to the excursion.  After sending the other 2 boys the correct way down to the base lodge, I went down after him.  I ran into a hiker who said that a boy with a scooter is waiting at the forest service gate below.  After reaching the gate, he wasn’t there, but a phone call to the other kids said they saw him walking up to the restaurant at the base. He had been resourceful enough to hitch a ride with a good Samaritan back to the base. After all, it is Missoula.

Despite the minor mishap and wrong turn, it was a wonderful outdoor adventure with incredible views of the Missoula valley and thrilling in many other ways. But take my advice, bring plenty of water, wear your helmet, and stay within view of everyone in your party. And always, always stop at major intersections to regroup and check your trail map!

For more information, visit Montana Snowbowl or call 406-549-9777.

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