Nordic Lights: The Best in Cross-Country Skiing

Colorado: Tenth Mountain Telemarking
  |  Gorp.com

Colorado deserves its reputation as one of the best skiing areas in the United States, but the unique Tenth Mountain Division Hut Systems makes it one of the premiere nordic spots. Ski from dawn till dusk across the 270-mile network of trails, skirting the crowds that amass at the large resorts, and then crash out at one of the cozy huts that line the route. All of the routes offer superb views, great powder, and the opportunity to ski the best of the Rockies.
One of the most popular stretches is the 50-mile run from Vail to Aspen. Experienced ski mountaineers can make the trek unguided, but most skiers are best off hiring an experienced guide.

Backcountry skiers exploring the Tenth Mountain trails can bed down at ten well-equipped huts maintained by the Tenth Mountain Division Hut Association (TMDHA), and five private cabins, making this the most extensive hut network in the country. Of the five privately-owned cabins, the TMDHA can reserve two that are operated by the Summit Huts Association. Additionally, TMDHA can book the seven huts south of Aspen maintained by the Braun Hut System.
Practically Speaking
The Colorado Rockies offer boundless options for wilderness ski enthusiasts. Experts will enjoy the Tenth Mountain Division Hut System, a 270-mile network of ski trails and huts atop the Rockies. Ski lifts access the trailheads to some of the most popular huts, such as Janet Cabin near Copper Mountain resort, saving you hours of hard climbing.
If your telemarking and climbing skills are a bit weak, you may prefer to sample the Rockies Grand Tour—90 miles of trails between the major ski resorts. Use lifts to get up to the major passes, and from there traverse from resort to resort with relative ease. We like the idea of letting the lifts do the work, but you'll be overnighting in downhill resorts, which diminishes some of the wilderness appeal.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 29 Jan 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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