Nordic Lights: The Best in Cross-Country Skiing


Many of us tend to forget that there was skiing long before there were ski resorts, and that skies were originally used for travel, not sport. Nordic—or cross-country—skiing unlocks the vast, undeveloped reaches of the backcountry to the winter explorer. One can venture freely into the wildlands, away from the crowds and hassles of downhill resorts. For those who enjoy the quiet respite of heading out on your own, here are the places to consider.

Austria: Skiing Inn-to-Inn through the Alps
Imagine nothing but the silent glide of cross-country skies and the endless vistas of the snow-covered Alps on all sides. Austria's Tirol region delivers an unparalleled skiing experience, offering one of the largest networks of cross-country ski trails in the world. Miles of groomed tracks connect the picturesque villages of the Tirolian Alps. Many major downhill resorts offer Nordic programs, both in the valleys, and on higher elevations served by lifts and cable cars. Even in the high country, you're never far from a country inn or heated climbers' hut. And with many reasonably priced rooms in small hotels and private homes, you can enjoy a ski holiday in Austria for less than $60-$75 dollars per day, if you use your own equipment.
A variety of itineraries are available for skinny-ski fans. Wind through the Karwendel Alps, with a warm-up stop outside of Innsbruck, roam alongside the Leutasch River Valley, with stops at the Austrian village of Scharnitz, or cross the border to the German village of Hinterriss. Spend your evenings surrounded by the baroque architecture of Steinberg am Rofan or Thiersee, a perfect night-time reprieve from the day’s skiing. The lakes and valleys bordering this endless series of backcountry trails offer a region of unparalleled natural beauty.

Practically Speaking
For a comprehensive list of ski areas and recommended hotels in Austria, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office. In Austria, the Tirol Tourism Office also maintains its own excellent travel information centers in Innsbruck and many other locations. The friendly, English-speaking clerks can provide local trail maps, lodging brochures, and can help you identify local chalets and winter sports opportunities through their computer database.

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

Published: 13 Nov 2000 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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