Snowmobile Hand Signals and What They Mean

The signals depicted in the following chart should be part of every riders vocabulary. If you have a new rider in your group, be sure to explain each signal and proper sled etiquette for the safety of the whole group. Even seasoned riders should refresh their memory before heading out. Don't forget about Groomer Etiquette!


The left arm is extended out and down from the side of the body, with a downward flapping motion of the hand to signal warning or caution.

Right Turn

The left arm is raised at shoulder height, with the elbow bent and the forearm vertical. The palm of the hand is flat.

Oncoming Sleds

The left arm is raised at shoulder height with the elbow bent, the forearm vertical and the wrist bent. The arm should move from left to right over the head, pointing to the right of the trail.

Left Turn

The left arm is extended straight out from the shoulder, pointed in the direction of the turn.

Sleds Following

The arm is raised with the elbow bent and the thumb pointing backward. The arm should move in a "hitchhiking" motion from the front to the back, over the shoulder.

Last Sled

The left forearm, with the palm flat, slashes repeatedly out and down at a 45-degree angle

Stop Sign

Either arm is raised from the shoulder and extended straight up over the head, with the palm of the hand flat

Use of finger signals: Many riders raise their hand with one finger extended for each member of their group that is behind them and the last rider of the group will raise a closed fist. While this may seem helpful, finger signals are not as visible at night and can be awkward for large groups, on busy trails, and with bulky gloves. Instead, adopt accepted signals for "sleds following" and "last sled in line" especially when your group is strung out in curves.



Proper Use of Hand Signals are Important to Groomer Operators, too!

Proper Etiquette when Encountering a Groomer:

  • Oncoming Sleds:
  • Following Sleds:

    Don't forget to let the operator(s) know you appreciate their efforts! Most are volunteers and are out there because they care about our sport!


    1. Grand Marais Groomer Operators are required to stop when they encounter sleds along the way.
    2. The operator will flash their lights to signal riders when they reach an area with adequate room and visibility to allow riders to pass safely.
    3. Wait for the operators signal!