Cross country skiing in Colorado: My unsolicited opinion as a local

29 Feb

I recognize I’m on shaky ground here.  I’ve lived in Denver for nearly three years, and I love it.  Love it!  But I also quickly learned that you better know your stuff if you dare to talk about certain subjects.  Skiing is one of those subjects.  As one of my rockstar skier friends says “We measure difficulty by ducking ropes, backcountry, avalanche beacons and cliffs.  The general rule is that if you need to talk about it, you probably don’t belong.”

Being a novice doesn’t earn you any brownie points or invites.  The self-awareness to know where you don’t belong while understanding the lingo and terrain (so as to appreciate the stories of your more skilled friends) might get you invited to après ski.  And we all love après.

Which is my long winded way of saying I’m not going to touch alpine.  That said, I’ve recently gone cross country (Nordic) skiing a few times, and I do feel it is worth writing about.

What I enjoy about cross country skiing in Colorado

Beautiful scenery: Cross country skiing is so peaceful.  Often very near or at ski resorts, you get to see other areas.  Sometimes amidst beautiful trees or in the midst of a stunning valley, you can just take it all in.

Great exercise:  This is a frequent reaction I get from people when I mention cross country skiing.  According to the Mayo Clinic, a 160lb person burns 496 calories per hour doing said activity.  On average, I’ve been out for 2 or 3 hours.  Not bad.

Lower cost, fewer people:  In my experience, gear rental is $20 and the trail pass is another $20, give or take.  This is quite a bit less than alpine, and there are so many fewer people.  The whole “process” is just very easy and relatively stress free.

So if you want to give cross country skiing a try…where to go:

Proof. There I am cross country skiing at Devil's Thumb. For the record, looking fashionable was not an objective.

Devils Thumb Ranch: Civilized, rustic, charming…oh, and great trails too.  All that marketing language on their website…yeah, believe it.  Or believe me.  And go.  My only regret is that it was only a day trip.  And no, they don’t even know I’m writing about them.

Eldora: Directly adjacent to the downhill area, they’ve got 40 kilometers of terrain.  Another bonus, Eldora is outside of Boulder so you avoid all the I-70 mess and then can grab a fab brunch in Boulder on your way back.  Tip: Green trails are more like blues

The beautiful scenery while cross country skiing at Eldora

Strawberry Park (Beaver Creek): I haven’t been myself, but I have it on good authority (in this case Vail resident and extreme skier Chris Anthony) that it is great.  Plus, I’ve skied alpine at “The Beav” and truly enjoyed it, even as a novice.

So where are your favorite place to cross country ski, in CO or elsewhere?

Header Photo: Beaver Creek.  All photos © W2S Hilary

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One Response to “Cross country skiing in Colorado: My unsolicited opinion as a local”

  1. Nancy Major February 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    This almost (almost) makes me miss the snow we left behind when we moved from Salt Lake to Houston.

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