Cross-Country Skiing: Five Great Places to Wax Your Skinny Skis

Winter snow brings a fresh crop of sporting possibilities, and ski resorts around the United States are filling up with downhill enthusiasts. To get out of line and into the great wide open, we suggest strapping on the skinny skis and hitting up these five places for cross-country skiing in a more serene environment.
  |  Gorp.com
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 (iStockphoto)

As Mother Nature begins her yearly dance with Old Man Winter, the siren song of skis swishing over fresh powder grows ever stronger. From coast to coast, a variety of snow-covered resorts, forested mountainsides, and even national parks offer challenging cross-country trails to test your Nordic mettle. Why let gravity do all of the work? Wax your skinny skis, bundle up in your warmest duds, and get out and breathe some of that crisp winter air on a cross-country getaway. Here are our top five places for cross-country skiing in the United States.

Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Montana
Near the slopes at Big Sky Resort, Lone Mountain Ranch has nearly 50 miles of cross-country trails with a staggering 2,200 feet of vertical drop—which is more than you'll see at many downhill ski areas. Weeklong all-inclusive stays usually start around $2,000 per adult and one-night packages can include a gourmet, sleigh ride dinner. The cabins, each with their own distinct personality and rustic style, are nestled along North Fork Creek. Non-overnight guests are also welcome to ski the trails. For those who like mixing their Nordic excursions with a few days of downhill skiing or snowboarding, neighboring Big Sky is one of the most revered resorts in the Rocky Mountains. Plus, the ranch's proximity to the western entrance of Yellowstone National Park makes a snow-coach tour a doable and highly recommended day trip. Shrouded in snow and free of crowds, Yellowstone offers an entirely different experience in wintertime.

Devil's Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, Colorado
Located in the Fraser Valley near Winter Park Resort, the 5,000-acre Devil's Thumb Ranch is so named for the unmistakable thumb-like rock formation jutting out of the mountains of the Continental Divide, framing the resort. Open since 1938, the ranch has skiing for all skill levels with more than 60 miles of groomed trails unspooling throughout the scenic Ranch Creek Valley. The striking lodge has several new green features, including beetle-kill wood (lodgepole pine killed by beetle infestation and now repurposed), geothermal heating, and a huge fireplace made of rockslide debris. Less expensive lodging can be found at the self-catering Bunkhouse down the road, while the freestanding ranch cabins offer privacy and luxury. Dining is also superb. Choose from the refined atmosphere of the Ranch Creek Restaurant or Heck’s, the more casual bar and grill named for its hexagonal shape and modeled after the storied Timberline Lodge at the base of Mount Hood in Oregon.

Published: 4 Dec 2012 | Last Updated: 7 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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Best Hotels in Big Sky

$111
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#1
Buck's T-4 Lodge
$161
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#2
The Lodge at Big Sky
$149-$169
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#3
River Rock Lodge by Resort Property Management
$241
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#4
Summit Hotel

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