For some powder hounds, nothing can beat the rush of endorphins and adrenaline that comes along with a speedy ride down a steep slope. But for other winter sport enthusiasts, a slower-paced approach is preferred.
For that latter group, cross-country skiing is absolutely one of the most ideal ways to explore and enjoy the great outdoors during the winter season. Plus, one of the best things about cross-country skiing is that it isn’t only for people who don’t particularly enjoy downhill skiing. The sport caters to skiers of all levels and abilities and offers its own unique thrills and amusements. Oh, and did we mention it makes for a killer workout? Be prepared for your quads to work!
If this sounds like a winter sport that’s just your style then you’ve got no excuse not to give it a try. And if you’re wondering where to go for some great cross-country skiing terrain, why not start by taking a look at some of the top cross country skiing destinations around the world?
Mono County’s diverse Sierra Nevada landscape makes for an unrivaled cross-country ski setting that caters to snow-sport-lovers of all levels. The area’s Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center is the region’s largest Nordic resort and boasts 19 winding miles of alpine cross-country ski trails. Also of note is the Rock Creek Lodge, which boasts nine miles of XC terrain and where guests can lodge in winterized overnight cabins and dine in forested ski-in settings.
Another cross-country ski destination with varying levels of terrain, Indiana Dunes is conveniently located just outside of Chicago. Not to mention, here cross-country skiers are greeted with stunning views of Lake Michigan, which during the winter is dotted with mountains of ice all along its shore. And once you’ve conquered all 70 miles within Indiana Dunes, more cross-country fun awaits at the nearby Taltree Arboretum.
Often described as a Nordic skier’s paradise (and also just a ski paradise in general), Breckenridge boasts about 37 miles of neatly groomed cross-country ski trails within two unique Nordic centers. On top of that, for the more advanced visitors, the town trail network provides easy access to the area’s backcountry courses which connect to county and U.S. Forest Service land. Or, if you prefer a guided excursion, the Breckenridge Nordic Center offers local-led tours to the area’s historic warming huts.
The renowned Val di Fassa in Italy’s Dolomites offers more than 30 miles of unparalleled cross-country ski trails. A rustic and wildly scenic setting, here you can put your cross-country skis to work moving from village to village. And afterwards you can reward your muscles by taking advantage of a relaxing soak in the area’s natural hot springs.
Winthrop’s Methow Trails prides itself on 120 miles of immaculately groomed cross-country ski trails. Lined with breathtaking scenery, the trail system is divided into four sections, all of which are connected by the Methow Community Trail featuring a suspension bridge that crosses the Methow River, trailheads and cozy lodges all along the way.
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Yes, Sun Valley is one of North America’s best downhill ski resorts, but what many don’t know is that it’s also home to more than 20 miles of top-notch, spotlessly-groomed cross-country ski trails. In fact, the resort even offers training programs and clinics, so skiers of all abilities can get in on the cross-country action.
What could be a more appropriate cross-country skiing destination than the location where the sport originated? Of course, Norway boasts countless ski locales, but for those in search of an exceptional XC experience, it’s hard to beat the Rustad Hotel in Sjusjøen. Nestled amidst a serene mountain-scape just north of Lillehammer, the resort’s varying network of tails has something to offer for everyone from the first-time cross-country skier to the powder hound veteran in search of a new and exciting challenge.
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If it’s a more luxurious winter getaway you’re after, look no further than what’s often considered the most exclusive chalet village in the Swiss Alps. The resort town is regarded as one of the top winter sports destinations in the entire world and Gstaad’s holiday region appeals to all types of cross-country skiers since its landscape offers both beginner- and expert-level trails. One of the most popular paths here is the 3.1-mile Gstaad-Feutersoey-Gsteig trail, which is especially suited for nature-lovers as it tours skiers along the River Saane to Chlösterli.
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With a network of trails spanning more than 62-miles, New Hampshire’s Bretton Woods Nordic Center is one of the East’s largest cross-country ski areas. Here you’ll find terrain of all types. From open fields and wooded trails to scenery including mountain streams and beaver ponds, Bretton Woods is easily one of the most vast and picturesque cross-country ski spots in North America. Not to mention, the area’s Omni Mount Washington Resort is the state’s largest ski area overall and boasts 464 acres of ski and snowboard terrain.
With nearly 125 miles of immaculately groomed trails, the opportunities for cross-country skiing at Royal Gorge are almost endless. Whether you opt to glide around the Van Norden Meadow or aim to take on the challenging climbs leading to the Point Mariah outlook, here there’s truly a taste of XC for all types of skiing personalities.