Top Ten North American Cross-Country Skiing Centers

Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort, Colorado
By Sproule Love
  |  Gorp.com

The first thing you'll likely notice about Devil's Thumb is the lack of oxygen. At an elevation of over 8,500 feet, the resort's trails will have lowlanders feeling as though they're skiing through glue. You'll quickly acclimate, and the price of a few extra breaths per stride is small indeed for the eye-popping scenery all around.

Nestled in the same high-mountain plateau as the Winter Park downhill ski area and just up the valley from Fraser, a town proudly declared by locals as the icebox of the nation, Devil's Thumb serves up a huge helping of what Colorado is famous for: deep powder and sunny skies.

Named after a geological feature in the mountains above the Nordic Center that resembles a satanic hitchhiker's digit, Devil's Thumb is a cross-country area unique in its diversity of trails.

If you brave the Black Ten Trail, an insanely convoluted romp through the woods, you may think you are in Vermont. If you have willing four-legged companions, take a "skijor" (try this on for size: getting pulled behind dogs on skis!) on the Center's designated trails. In fact, you may find your dog enjoying Devil's Thumb as much as you do. Canine season passes cost $12.

Although some trails are wooded, most of the area's gradual loops are out in the open, giving Devil's Thumb trails the highest sun-to-kilometer ratio anywhere. Bring your shades and don't forget to look up; you are in the heart of the Rockies.

If You Go: Devil's Thumb

Trails: 40 kilometers, skating, classic, and snowshoe

Trail fee: $8 for lodge guests, $12 for those just skiing

Rentals: Yes

Lessons: Yes

Where: Devil's Thumb is located west of Denver, just off of County Road 83 near Fraser.

For more information: (970) 726-8231 or (800) 933-4339.


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