ELY — For the second time in as many years, the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM) will hold its annual ATV Minnesota Ride & Rally in Northeastern Minnesota.
After the Voyageur Country ATV Club hosted the event last year in Crane Lake, the Prospector ATV Club is set to host this year’s event beginning on Sept. 18. The Prospector Loop system of ATV trails connects the cities of Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass, Soudan and Tower.
A dozen rides will be conducted over the course of the three-day event with hundreds of riders slated to attend.
Changes to the events have been made due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with things like an annual banquet being canceled while moving the normally in-person live auction to an online auction being run on eBay.
Registration for the event and its many rides was offered online and special care was taken to stagger the start times for each ride in order to spread out participants. ATVAM Director of Communications Dave Halsey says the changes were necessary to put on a safe event.
“The clubs have to put together a plan for the DNR and the Forest Service in order to be able to ride on public lands so they need to outline what they’re doing in order to keep people safe,” Halsey said. The max number of vehicles for each ride is set at 20 and the start times will all be staggered so the rides and the crowds don’t get too big.”
Halsey said the Prospector Loop is a prime location for this year’s event as new stretches of trail are being added constantly in an effort to connect the cities they serve.
“It’s huge that they have this trail system that connects these towns. With Crane Lake last year, the resorts and businesses up there wanted to help connect each other and now the Prospector Club wants to show the progress they’ve made connecting the towns.
“It attracts a lot of people. People from all over the state come and check it out and find a new place to come ride in Minnesota. It ends up being a big win for the riders as well as the towns and communities involved in holding the event.”
With the pandemic keeping families relatively close to home this past summer, the sale and use of ATVs and side-by-sides has risen. What exactly is driving people to the trails? Halsey thinks it’s a need to get outside in uncertain times.
“Just like boats and bikes and RVs, ATVs and side-by-side sales have gone up this summer. People are staying within the state, close to home now and people want to find out what’s in their own backyard. There are a lot of new riders out on the trails joining the experienced riders and the stay-at-home order has definitely driven that.”
Anecdotally, Halsey says the increase in sales has surprised some sports shops and dealers.
“COVID definitely affected the ATV sales. Normally when unemployment is up, the ATV sales go down. But it seems like the sales went up this year when people found a need to be outside after being cooped up at home for so long. It was kind of a surprised for a lot of the dealers across the state.”
VIP rides are set for Friday, Sept. 18, from Embarrass to Tower with the rest of the normal rides set to start Saturday morning. The rides themselves range anywhere from 25 to 180 miles.
All 12 rides will be guided by Prospector Club members with leaders in the front and back of the back to ensure riders stay together.
Sign ups and registration for the rides are still open and can be found at www.atvam.com. Halsey encourages new riders and veterans to check the Ride & Rally out if they have any interest.
“It’s just a really good riding experience. The fall season is really popular. It’s a lot cooler out and you might see some of the colors changing. There’s a good mix of narrow ATV trails and forest trails and a variety of terrain. Most of the rides aren’t really difficult so it’s good for families to come up too. If you haven’t been up to these trails and you’re a rider, now is the perfect time to check it out.”