Grand County offers wealth of cross country trails |

Grand County offers wealth of cross country trails

Will Bublitz
Grand County, Colorado

Imagine a perfect winter’s day with a sky of crystaline blue above you. You’re standing on a perfectly groomed trail of pure white snow with cross-country skis on your feet.

You take your first stride and then another. Your skis begin skimming across the snow and you pick up speed. You can feel both the warm sunlight and cool air on your face.

Stride after stride, your cross-country skis carry you further along the snow-covered trail as it passes through forest and meadows with the tall mountain peaks all around you. You seem to flow up and over each hill, followed by an exhilarating ride down the other side on the manicured trail.

From the quickening of your breath and heartbeat, you know your body is working hard, but somehow it feels almost effortless as you stride over the wintery landscape on your cross-country skis.

You feel at one with the day… with the mountains… with yourself.

And deep in your heart, you know that wherever you go, you’ll always remember this feeling and the experience of cross-country skiing in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

If you’re in Grand County as you read this, you don’t have to imagine that experience. It is waiting for you.

This county boasts some of the best cross-country skiing areas in North America with a a combined total of 350 kilometers of groomed trails.

Grand County has five public Nordic ski centers. Most of these cross-country ski centers offer equipment rentals, instruction, retail sales and other amenities.

Snow Mountain Nordic Center

Some of the best cross-country skiing to be had in Grand County is at the Nordic Center of Snow Mountain Ranch-YMCA of the Rockies, located south of Granby on Highway 40.

The Nordic Center offers skiers 110 kilometers of groomed trails. Snow Mountain’s cross-country operation is so highly regarded that world-class Nordic ski races are held there. But it also is well known as a great place for families to spend a pleasant afternoon touring on skis.

The Nordic Center, which is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on week days, offers retail sales and service. On weekends, it is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Trail fees for the day are $10 for YMCA guests and members; $15 for non-members; and $5 for seniors and children ages 6-12. Seventy and over is free. Season passes are also offered for $185 for adults, $300 for couples and $350 for families of four.

Group lessons are $20, and $35 for private lessons. The Nordic Center also offers a

“Learn to Ski Package” that includes lesson, trail fee and rental for $40 for adults and $25 for children. Regular ski equipment rental rates are $15 for adults and $8 for children.

For more information, call the Snow Mountain Nordic Center at 887-2152, ext. 4173.

Devil’s Thumb

Devil’s Thumb Ranch Nordic Center, located north of Winter Park near the community of Tabernash, is known far and wide as one of this nation’s premier cross-country ski areas with over 100 kilometers of groomed trails.

Devil’s Thumb is open daily for skiing from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Devil’s Thumb Ranch also offers some of the best dining and lodging to be found anywhere in the local area.

Adult trail fees at Devil’s Thumb are

$18 for a full day. The cost children and seniors is $8.

Day rentals of ski equipment is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and children. Group lessons are $35 while private lessons are $50 per hour.

For more information, call the Devil’s Thumb Ranch Nordic Center at 726-8231.

Grand Lake

The Grand Lake Nordic Center, located at the golf course, is known for having some of the best ski trails to cruise and the most beautiful mountain scenery for skiers to enjoy.

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the touring center offers 35 kilometers of groomed trails. The price of a day pass is $12 for adults and $5 for children age 16 and under.

The center offers a season pass for $110, and a five-day punch card for $48.

The ski equipment rentals at the Grand Lake Nordic Center is $12 for a full-day and $10 for a half-day for adults and $5 per day for children.

Lessons and special events are also planned this ski season. For more information, call the Grand Lake Touring Center at 627-8008.

SolVista Basin

Already known for its good alpine skiing, SolVista Basin also offers over 25 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails for nordic skiers to explore.

Trail passes are free of charge. The only exception is for those who choose to take a $5 one-time chairlift ride up the slope to where the cross-country ski trails begin.

For more information on its cross-country skiing, call SolVista at 887-3384.

Latigo Ranch

Latigo Ranch is a destination ski resort located atop Gore Pass in western Grand County. It was named as one of North America’s outstanding Nordic ski areas by the Cross Country Ski Vacations magazine.

The ranch offers skiers over 60 kilometers of groomed trails as well as lodging, gourmet dining and spectacular scenery. Its ski trails get an annual average of 20 feet of snow.

Trail fees are $15 for non-guests. Rental equipment is available for $15 per day, but must be reserved in advance. A two-hour lesson, by reservation only, costs $35 per person.

For more information, call Latigo Ranch at 724-9008.

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