He’s not only a Utility Task Vehicle rider himself, but also president of the Crooked Trails ATV Club in Crooked Lake.
“As a club we’re seeing a lot more riders up here. We’re seeing a lot of families which is really neat to see,” he said. “The growth has been large, especially in the last year or two. You’re seeing huge growth.”
For Jonet and others, there’s an appeal to heading into the woods and getting a little dusty along the way.
“It’s just the enjoyment of being out in nature,” he said. “A lot of times you’ll see deer. On occasions, you might see a bear. You’re just out in the wilderness going for a ride.”
About half an hour away in Lakewood, UTV and ATV riders make up a sizable portion of the business at Waubee Lake Lodge, said owner Russ Kralovetz.
“It’s huge. I would say UTVs alone probably accounts for somewhere between 20 and 25% of my business,” he said. “They’re here all all week. They’re here on the weekends. Rain, it doesn’t matter, it’s great. It’s a shot in the arm for sure.”
The Wisconsin ATV/UTV Association said the number of vehicles in the state has grown from 192,000 in 2003 to about 495,000 in March. Another 23,000 machines come from out of state.
The association estimates the statewide economic impact of the sport at about $1.1 billion. That’s up from $295 million 19 years ago.