I try to be pretty open-minded and tolerant of others’ ideas on how to connect with nature.  I have a good deal of respect for hunters, trappers, and fisher(wo)men, for example.  They tend to be brilliant observers of the natural world and storehouses of knowledge about wildlife!  They also do far more than the average birder or hiker to fund conservation efforts through their purchase of licenses.

ATV TracksI have a harder time being tolerant of those who drive ATVs and Snowmobiles – just to drive them… not to get somewhere… often with little apparent attention to the natural world.  I just don’t get it.  (For transportation, these types of vehicles are sometimes very practical.)

Once, I firmly stated, “I hate golf.”  I was attending a workshop, which had nothing to do with golf.  The instructor said, “That’s a pretty strong statement.  Could it be that you simply have not yet learned to appreciate the finer qualities of golf?”  Let’s give that a try:

I have not yet learned to appreciate the finer qualities of ATVs and Snowmobiles.

What about you?  What is your opinion of these types of vehicles for pure recreation?  If you enjoy them, please tell us why!  (I’m willing to learn!)

21 thoughts on “Open-minded?

  1. I don’t get it either, not in the least. I could understand if you had this huge piece of property you need to get around on but just to ride…no…don’t understand it. How can you appreciate your surrounding when you’re on a loud thing that covers up the twittering birds and goes far too fast to gaze in wonder at the nature around you?

    And for the record, Mark Twain said,”Golf is a good walk spoiled” I tend to agree with that stance on golfing 😉

  2. ATVs, dirt bikes, 4Xs…I fail to appreciate the qualities of any of them when used just for “fun.” Why is it fun to tear up terrain or rut the beach for no particular reason? I don’t get it.

  3. My attitude towards them …. grrrrrr! I can see their usefulness. For one, our lake paths, for walking, would be hard going if they didn’t circumvent them with the snowmobile a few times. I can’t say too much on my blog as my brother-in-law is big into ATVs, dirt bikes and has yet to buy a snowmobile but it’s on the agenda. (Come summer, he is planning to take his buddies on these lovely deer trails behind our place dirt biking …. I could ring his neck! I’m hoping the Green belt committee will catch them and put a stop to that! This is the same area I have found some neat wild vegetation … they’ll just tear it all up whether they “mean” to or not.) These “vehicles” are stinky, noisy and a good half of the people out there driving them are, ahem, idiots … with no regard for the environment at all.

    … I’m pretty peeved with snowmobilers at the moment so I’m afraid you’ve brought up the subject at a bad time … I’m not in a very long suffering mood where they are concerned … no not at all!

  4. I’m not a snowmobiler or ATV-er. However, I think I can kinda-sorta possibly understand what pleasure these people take from these machines. I grew up with horses. I loved loved galloping, feeling the breeze on my face, the powerful muscles rippling beneath me and the ground rushing beneath the horse’s hooves. I wasn’t going anywhere, I just liked the experience of the moment.

    Given that most of the people who use these machines are men, I think that this is where they get their adrenaline rush, thrill-ride experience from. Big powerful machine under them, wind against their face, ground rushing away below, going nowhere, but going nowhere *fast*. Interestingly, dirt-bikers usually have confined courses or areas to play, but snowmobilers and ATV-ers don’t have that, they’re usually sharing the trails with the rest of us. So the only place that they can race and get muddy is out in the same areas we like to hike.

    I’m pretty sure that half of our reason for disliking them is simply the disruptive noise of the machine. I bet if they were electric (and therefore silent) we’d be only minorly peeved about them using the trails instead of intensely annoyed. On the other hand, I bet if they were electric (and therefore silent) men wouldn’t be nearly as enamoured with them…

    But, you know… all that said, I don’t like them, either.

  5. Wow, lots of interesting comments here! You probably know my feeling on atv’s and snowmobiles (ok, very close to your thoughts)! I am one who needs to use them at work from time to time and without a doubt they are very practical for what we are using them for! But, after using it the other day a fellow worker says “wasn’t that a fun thing to do at work”! My answer was “but we missed seeing all the great fun things, so it was just alright”!

  6. I believe it should be legal for ATVers to go anywhere, as long as they agree that anyone else has the right to shoot them without danger of prosecution. Homocide in exchange for ecocide – seems fair to me! Could be a win-win situation: they’d get the adrenalin rush of a lifetime, and those of us with good rifles and decent aim could keep them the f*** off our land.

  7. I do not ski , ride horseback ,dirtbike or motercycle, drag race, skateboard, sky dive — or ride snowmobiles or ATVs. But I can appreciate why people do all of them,including the latter. It’s fun, plain and simple.

    For snowmobiles, it can be exciting to speed over the snow covered trails,up over mounds, and if lucky, fly through the air and land in a cloud of snow, and then speed off again. Where else can one get such excitment ?? At the office ?? The snowmobile and ATV gives one a challenge to navigate a trail, often unknown,make split decisions,hang on for dear life –and then come through it all, exhillarated by having done it . As a kid I used to ride my bike on a trail in the woods, the faster the better — I loved it. Now there is a whole sport devoted to trail biking. I was ahead on my time.

    All of these activities give one the chance to experience the thrill that comes with a real challenge that also has an ellement of danger to it — where else can one test one’s skills in a similar way ??

    The price of geting this excitment on snowmobiles may be trespassing, and certainly that infernal, abrasive noise that must certainly have an effect on wildlife — it certainly has an effect on me. I would keep them off of my land(if I had any) , not because I do not think the acitvity as any merits, but because I detest the noise in an otherwise tranquil environment.

    ;nuf said.

  8. There are working applications for both ATV’s and snowmobiles of course, but I have the utmost contempt for those who arbitrarily use either in the wild country where they more often than not do it illegally.

  9. I have snowmobiled — once I think. I have been on a quad — once I think. A friend took me out and let me ride his 500cc dirt bike in the desert once, and it was a rush. I didn’t enjoy the desert then, but I enjoyed the adrenaline, the wind, the acceleration. I have done technical rock climbimbing. I have skydived — once. Skydiving tops everything else in the rush department. I understand why people want the rush.

    But I am a nature guy, I hike in the desert, the mountains, and I enjoy the quiet.

    But respect that others need to get their rush; if only they would respect us while doing it.

    Smokers, all too often, think nothing of tossing a butt on the sidewalk and leaving it there, for somebody else to clean up. Or worse, emptying their entire car ashtray out the window at a red light.

    What are people thinking?

    But then again, on my last hike, I overheard somebody saying to her partner that Al Gore made up global warming, and that it’s not real.

    As I used to say when I was a young man:

    Haupt for President, Sterilize the Stupid.

    Needless to say, I have since abandoned my presidential ambitions.

  10. When I was little I use to go and have fun on an ATV, that my uncle owned, but now I think that if you are going to use an ATV or a snowmobile you should have a purpose for using it. The only thing that it is really doing when you use it for fun, is just putting more pollutants in the air rapidly increasing the rate of global warming. Maybe if they came out with some type of hybrid ATV, or snowmobile it wouldn’t be as bad! hen you get the careless people on ATVs and snowmobiles that just think it would be more fun to go off trail, and then that ruins the environment and could ruin a little creatures life!

  11. I cannot substantiate this claim, but I estimate:

    All ATVs, snowmobiles, motorboats and, yes, lawnmowers combined don’t make up for one tenth of one percent of the air pollution this country produces.

    Let’s look to airliners, cars, semi-trucks, coal powerplants and (you’re not going to like this: wood fireplaces in our houses) for the cause of air pollution and main creator of global warming.

    I’d love to be pointed at statistics showing the correct numbers and percentages.

    But yes, I don’t like the noise.

  12. Hmm.
    I have not yet learned to appreciate the finer qualities of ATVs or snowmobiles.
    When I have learned to appreciate them, it will reflect a different thought process entirely–and a loss of so much more.

    As for the remark about wood fireplaces causing global warming– If I understand the facts here,it’s the fact that wood releases carbon as a natural part of its decomposition. As long as trees are replanted, the burning of wood simply speeds the release of carbon. Versus petroleum products (gasoline–fossil fuels locked beneath the earth’s surface) that are not able to be resequestered in a natural life-cycle process, thus when burned liberate additional carbon that would NOT naturally be freed that causes global warming?
    Fireplaces should be seen as carbon neutral.

  13. From a photography standpoint, nothing disappoints me more than heading out to a pristine stretch of woods, only to find deep tracks left by ATVs or snowmobiles. It goes beyond the deep tracks in the snow or the muddy mess they leave behind in wet areas; they drive wildlife deeper into the woods, and from what I’ve read, they can eventually empty a wildlife reserve.

  14. I think that the key is you have every right to enjoy whatever activity you want to do, until it impinges on the use/rights of others trying to use that same space. They don’t let people ride ATVs / snowmobiles on soccer fields because they would damage the fields and thus alter the ability for others to use that field. Similarly, you can fish in streams, but you can’t use dynamite because (other than obvious safety issues) doing so would wreak the spot for any other person to use it.

    To that end, there are plenty of truly open spaces for both of these activities and places that are set up specifically for them. I don’t want to generalize that those who want to use ATVs and snowmobiles aren’t nature-friendly – like many others, they might be conscientious of their environments and stay only on marked trails, do no harm, etc. A hiker who leaves their trash, to me, is just as destructive as someone who tears up a hiking path with a motorbike. It’s the morons who DON’T think about what they are doing that cause the problems – and that can be someone on an ATV, a motorbike, a moped or hiking boots.

    That being said, I’d prefer not to have to compete with them in any area I’m visiting. Living relatively close to the NJ Pine Barrens, there are times when you are quietly looking for something only to have some yahoos come racing through at 50mph (with no helmets) and scare everything away. But I understand that they have the same rights to be there as I do, so we need to find a balance. If they do no harm, I can’t say a word. But if they start destroying habitat with reckless actions – be it a snowmobile, motorboat, moutainbike or photographer – then I reserve the right to say something, and hopefully be backed up by the law.

  15. Oh my goodness y’all. This post has received more comments than any of my posts so far… I spoke with a woman who admitted that while she LOVES nature, she also loves snowmobiling. But she agrees with the “responsible use” approach, using trails designed for such use, for example.

    Anyway, thanks for reading and for your responses…

  16. Hi Jennifer,
    I’m late getting here, but I’ll throw in my 2 cents anyway.
    We sold our snowmobiles in 1996 (as our winters gradually became less snowy), but were big sledders for years. We snowmobiled hundreds of miles on authorized/marked trails in the woods and across lakes in northern Minnesota. Most of these trips were just my husband and I’ll tell you quite honestly that these trips were fantastic. Some of the things I saw while riding snowmobile included a pair of moose, osprey nests on high line poles (in a marshy area that would have been inaccessible in the summer), an ermine that ran across the trail in front of me, and the Kettle Falls Motel. On the flip side, we also witnessed a lot of stupid, irresponsible sledders while we were out on the trails and I think the actions of people like that is another reason why I’m happy we don’t snowmobile anymore (not to mention all the riders out there who thought it was OK to drink & drive a sled).
    The ATV thing I have a little harder time with. We have an ATV too and it’s more for work than fun (although my husband might argue that). It’s good to have the ATV when we need to get deer stands back and forth to hunting areas and to help with hauling for yard chores.
    I think they’ve made some improvements in the engines of these machines as far as emissions go, but my thinking has changed enough over the years, that I just don’t see any reason to spend all that money on a machine and gas to basically go nowhere. Now I would choose to walk for my nature discovery and simply enjoy the silence….there’s no place I need to get to in that much of a hurry anyway.
    P.S. My neighbor and his son each have an ATV (one of them with extremely loud pipes!) When I hear him revving that engine or racing down the street past our house, I have homicidal thoughts too!

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