Favorite Cross-Country Skiing in Colorado

A tour of three high-country Nordic centers

Not all cool kids ski downhill; some of us ski cross country. I discovered the sport of cross-country skiing about five years ago, and while I’m not hardcore, I enjoy getting out on a nicely groomed trail and feeling the burn.

I started out as a fanatical snowshoer. I loved getting into backcountry on a pair of snowshoes and the feeling of happy exhaustion after a long day of trudging through a quiet, snowy forest. Then I discovered cross country skiing, and while I occasionally still bring out the snowshoes, I now prefer the skis.

One good reason to jump on the skis this winter is that an hour of moderate cross-country skiing can burn more than 500 calories. However, I don’t cross-country ski to burn calories; I cross country ski because it’s fun.

While you can still venture into backcountry on skis, they also open up the world of Nordic Centers, and Colorado has some beautiful facilities around the state.

My very first experience cross-country skiing was at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center in Steamboat Springs. This is the place that hooked me. I went out with a girlfriend and while I took a couple big spills, it was a super fun day.

This Nordic center’s trails do not feel as remote as the other destinations mentioned in this article, but the trails were very well-maintained while we were there.

Just three years old, Steamboat now has an additional groomed cross-country skiing area called Haymaker Nordic Center.

I have been cross-country skiing several times at the Grand Lake Nordic Center in Grand Lake, right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. These trails are very pretty and there’s an array of different kinds of scenery on the property. You can ski through the trees, through a meadow, or through wide open spaces.

There are a lot of advanced trails here for those who like to do a lot of up-and-down-hill cross-country skiing.  

The clubhouse has scenic views and a relaxed atmosphere. There is also a free tubing and sledding hill at the Grand Lake Nordic Center.

The Breckenridge Nordic Center is my favorite. I have skied here several times. Not only are the trails beautifully groomed, but the new clubhouse is gorgeous. After a morning on the trails you can indulge in a drink and hot soup or a gourmet hot dog inside the comfy clubhouse.

Head back out and spend the afternoon on a different set of trails. One nice aspect of the Breckenridge Nordic Center is that there are a number of beginner trails and also snowshoe routes throughout the property.  

There are many other Nordic centers around Colorado. This site is a wonderful resource:  CrossCountrySkiColorado.com.

Categories: The Heidi Guide