Best Cross-Country Skiing in Colorado
When people first think about skiing in Colorado, the obvious first thought is the numerous downhill resorts the state boasts. There are 32 ski mountains in Colorado that offer some of the best skiing in the United States; however, often nearby, you will also find some of the best cross-country skiing. Check out our Guide about Nordic Centers in Colorado for a complete list and map of where to find cross-country skiing.
Downhill skiing can give you access to intense runs and beautiful amenities at the resort, but they do not offer access to all that Colorado has to offer! Some of Colorado’s most beautiful wilderness and offerings come from other areas of the state than the famous ski resorts. One of the best ways to take advantage of the Colorado winter is by cross-country skiing! Cross-country skiing allows skiers to explore some of the most remote areas of Colorado, through the state’s most beautiful national parks and beautiful areas. Cross-country skiing is also a great workout, especially for those who do not do it regularly. There are so many beautiful places to try out cross-country skiing. Here are our recommendations!
Eldora Mountain Resort’s Nordic Center, Nederland
Most mountain towns across Colorado have nordic centers close to the downhill ski resort. Eldora Mountain Resort’s Nordic Center is a great option for cross-country skiing because it is so close to Denver, Boulder, and surrounding areas. It is the closest location to Denver so skiers can get out for an easy weekend day trip without spending too much time driving on I-70. This nordic center has nearly 25 miles of trails for cross-country skiers that bring travelers past stunning mountain views and through quiet forests where it seems like it is just you and the wilderness.
Frisco Cross-Country Ski Center, Frisco
The Nordic Center in Frisco offers a unique skiing experience. Skiers can trek along the frozen shores of Lake Dillon and enjoy well-maintained trails with over 40km of routes perfect for cross-country skiers. There are trails available for skiers of all levels; whether you want to enjoy skiing the mild meadows or take on a steep route, there are plenty of options.
Cross-Country Skiing on Rabbit Ears Pass
For a cross-country skiing option further west in the state, there is Rabbit Ears Pass. Rabbit Ears is situated between Silverthorne and Steamboat Springs, a necessary feat to pass if you are heading to Steamboat. Winter comes early here. The top of the pass sits at 10,000 feet and traps storms, accumulating an impressive amount of snow every winter. Steamboat has a Nordic Council that grooms trail atop of the pass to make it possible for skiers to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
One of the most well-known trails is Bruce’s Trail, a 5-km circuit consisting of an upper loop and a longer lower loop. Though there are some groomed trails up atop the pass, there is potential to explore seemingly endless amounts of terrain, depending on how much you want to push yourself.
Crested Butte Nordic, Crested Butte
In the southern area of the state, you will find Crested Butte. Crested Butte has a few nicknames, including the Last Great American Ski Town and the Nordic Ski Capital of Colorado. Crested Butte Nordic is a nonprofit that maintains over 50km of scenic cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails around the Town of Crested Butte. Here, visitors can enjoy lessons, yours, backcountry dining, or venture out independently and test their limits! Crested Butte has premier trails, exceptional natural beauty, an expansive trail system, and a unique ski-in/ski-out town center. This is a great destination for nordic skiers looking for a winter vacation spot!
Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System, Aspen
Aspen has one of North America's largest free groomed cross-country skiing systems, giving Crested Butte a run for its money for the top nordic ski destinations in the Rocky Mountain State. Aspen has 90 km of terrain maintained by an Aspen-based nonprofit. There are great trails here for beginners and advanced skiers. With such vast options, skiers can go as far as they like and make their journey as difficult as possible.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Tabernash
Located in Tabernash near Winter Park is Devil’s Thumb Ranch is a unique destination for nordic skiers. It is both an upscale accommodation option and a dream nordic ski destination! 77 miles of cross-country skiing trails are open to the public. After a long day of enjoying the trails, skiers can visit the spa or fine dining restaurants to unwind after a long day.
Grand Mesa Nordic Council Nordic Trails
Grand Mesa is the world’s largest flat-top mountain. It reaches an elevation of 11,332 feet high and features a highland climate that delivers an unbelievable amount of snow. Because it is a mostly horizontal landscape that receives a ton of snow, it is an ideal destination for nordic skiing. There are 38km of groomed path atop the monolith, along with many more kilometers of trails that are not maintained. This nordic country experience can be as easy or difficult as the skier desires!
No matter where you choose to go cross-country skiing, you will find some incredible skiing. Whether you prefer to ski on mellow, groomed trails or more adventurous trails with steeper turns, you will find the best area for your preferred experience!
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