Downhill skiing can be thrilling and adventurous but for the times that you want to ski without the risk of plowing down a mountain, cross-country (or Nordic) skiing can be the best choice. Cross-country skiing is the older and more traditional way of skiing with longer skis that are used to cross greater distances. You can choose between skate skiing (which is more freestyle) or the traditional classic skiing — depending on your level and how much effort you want to put in on the trails. Colorado contains some gorgeous groomed and ungroomed trails that are ready to explore and 303 Magazine has created a roundup of the best places to cross-country ski near Denver.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Nordic Center
When: Daily, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Where: Zach’s Mercantile, Co Rd. 83, Fraser,
Cost: $25 – $260 get tickets here
The Lowdown: Devil’s Thumb Nordic Center is tucked into the mountains of Grand County and sits at the very base of the continental divide. The center has an array of different cross-country trails varying in levels. You can choose from easy, moderate and difficult. Devil’s Thumb is rated as one of the best places to cross-country ski in Colorado. Plus, if you want to get fancy and relax after working out, you can experience the indoor treats at the Devil’s Thumb Spa. The Nordic Center also offers ski rentals for $25 so if you don’t have gear, you don’t need to worry.
Gold Run Nordic Center
When: December – March, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Gold Run Nordic Center, 200 Clubhouse Dr., Breckenridge
Cost: $25 – $270 get tickets here
The Lowdown: Gold Run Nordic Center holds nearly 20 miles of groomed classic and skate ski trails throughout. The center is right outside of Breckenridge giving you easy access to ski in the woods and shopping in town. The trails have varying difficulties of loops so you can pick your perfect level to ski on. Gold Run also offers dog-friendly ski trails, ski rentals and repairs and ski lessons if you aren’t a seasoned skier.
Eldora Nordic Center
When: Daily, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Eldora Mountain Resort, 2861 Eldora Ski Rd, Nederland
Cost: $25 – $32 get tickets here
The Lowdown: Nestled within Eldora Mountain Resort sits the Eldora Nordic Center located near the adorable mountain town of Nederland. The resort is only a near 49-mile jaunt from Denver, making the perfect day trip. The center provides more than 20 miles of cross-country ski trails with classic and skate skiing available. You can take an adventure through scenic trails with levels from beginner to expert. If you aren’t too sure of your skills, Eldora also offers ski lessons and rentals if you need gear.
Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center
When: Daily, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Where: Snow Mountain Ranch, 1101 Co Rd 53, Granby
Cost: $10 – $25 trail passes or Free with membership
The Lowdown: Explore nearly 75 miles of trails at Snow Mountain Ranch. The ranch is located close to Winter Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, giving you the best mountain views. The YMCA allows its members and overnight guests of the ranch to have free access to nordic ski trails, snowshoeing and fat biking within the resort. If you are not a member you can pay $25 for a day pass. You can choose the difficulty of the trails from beginner to expert giving and test your ski limits. You can also have access to free ski lessons and room specials with a YMCA membership. Become a member here.
Keystone Nordic Center
When: Daily, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Keystone Nordic Center, 155 River Course Dr., Keystone
Cost: $17 get tickets here
The Lowdown: When you think of Keystone you probably think of downhill skiing right? Hidden within Keystone Resort resides the Keystone Nordic Center that gives cross-country skiers a chance to try out the sport on more than six miles of groomed trails ranging from never-been to advanced. You can explore Keystone in a whole new light, rent equipment for under $30 and more. If you have never been nordic skiing, Keystone also offers ski lessons.
Breckenridge Nordic Center
When: Daily, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Breckenridge Nordic Center, 9 Grandview Dr., Breckenridge
Cost: $25 get tickets here
The Lowdown: Explore the backwoods of Breckenridge on over 18 miles of groomed Nordic trails at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. The center holds a variety of classic and skate skiing lanes to keep you moving. You can also take lessons if you aren’t too confident on your skis. If you need gear, you can rent your gear for a price that varies depending on your skill level. The best thing about the Breckenridge Nordic Center? It has the longest running ski season staying open from November to April.
Grand Mesa Nordic Council
Where: Grand Mesa Nordic Council, directions here
Cost: $10 donation on trail
The Lowdown: Make the most of your weekends by taking a day to drive out to Grand Junction and visit the Skyway County Line Nordic and Ward areas in Grand Mesa Nordic Council (GMNC). You can ski within the areas on 20 miles of groomed skate and class ski trails. All of the trails are a mix of easy to moderate skill level with spots that climb up to 50 feet. If you want to warm up from the cold, Skyway Trail has a warming hut that you can stop by and relax. The GMNC also offers ski clinics to improve your skills and confidence, as well as ski races that you can participate in.
Frisco Nordic Center
When: Daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Where: Frisco Nordic Center, 616 Recreation Wy, Frisco
Cost: $25 at the Center
The Lowdown: Take a break from the rush of the downhill ski trails and breathe on roughly 15 miles of cross-country ski trails at the Frisco Nordic Center. The center is located a couple of minutes outside of the town of Frisco and offers tubing and a beginner downhill ski hill along with its many Nordic ski trails. The trails range from easy to difficult giving you a variety of choices, however at this time not all classic ski lanes are open, due to snowcat difficulties. If you are a newbie to Nordic skiing you can register for ski lessons and if you need gear, rentals are $20.
Never Summer Nordic
When: Open Daily
Where: Never Summer Nordic, 247 County Rd 41, Walden
Cost: Free – $70 get tickets here
The Lowdown: Ever wanted to stay in a yurt? Never Summer Nordic resides within Colorado State Forest Park and offers a variety of yurts and cabins that lead to beautiful hidden cross-country ski trails that were once old logging roads. The trails aren’t always groomed so make sure your skiing skills are up to par. You can have access to the trails without staying in a yurt, however, paying an extra bit for the yurts is worth the experience.
If you need tips on skiing etiquette read 303 Magazine’s guide on How to Not Ski Like an Asshole and if you want to try skiing with your canine, check out Skiing with Your Dog – How and Where to Go Skijoring in Colorado.