As downhill lift tickets and season passes approach small loan status, a lot of folks are switching over to Nordic Skiing for their winter snow sport fix. For the price of a season pass at any of the resorts, you can get outfitted with a Nordic setup that could last you the rest of your life. All of the destinations listed below are donation based so you will have money leftover for an apres ski drink.
Yankee Girl Mine, Ouray
If you love history, and don’t need a groomed track, then Yankee Girl Mine is a gem that is pretty much hidden in plain sight. A short drive outside Ouray, the trail that leads to the mine is County Road 31.While the road is not ploughed or groomed in the winter, there is plenty of traffic on the road that keeps the snow pressed down well enough for skinny skis without metal edges. The route is an out and back and roughly one mile each way. The mine can be seen from Million Dollar Highway, but it is always better up close. Dogs allowed.
Top of the Pines, Ridgway
If you love views with your laps, then look no further than Top of the Pines off County Road 5 in Ridgway. This network is at the base of Mount Sneffels and provides trails in the pines as well as the open field. Dogs are only allowed on Thursdays and Sundays.
County Road 5, Ridgway
Just past Top of the Pines County Road 5 is gated to vehicle traffic for the winter and groomed for Nordic use. While this is an out and back ski on a groomed road, the views are still breathtaking. If you enjoy lodging options with your Nordic session, then this is also the starting point to get to San Juan Hut Systems Burn Hut. Contact San Juan Huts for reservations. Dogs allowed
Uncompahgre Plateau, Montrose
Popular with Montrose locals, the trails up on the Plateau are busy with dirt bike and mountain bike traffic in summer, but when the snow hits they become a Nordic paradise. These trails aren’t as established or known as others on the list but that will likely change as a Montrose nonprofit is forming to keep them groomed. When the snow is good, skiing begins at the National Forest boundary. However, the snow is more consistent further up the road at the Forest Fence Trail (which is the starting point for the Whole Uncolada mountain bike route in the summer). Spring Creek Hut is in the area. Dogs allowed.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Montrose
Colorado’s least visited National Park shines in the winter time. The entry booth is closed and so the park is free to all. Come winter, South Rim Road is closed to vehicle traffic beyond the Visitors’ Center and is groomed for skiing and snowshoe use. Word is getting out and so daytime use is increasing, but the best time to go is in the evening anyway, especially when the moon is full. Dogs are not allowed.
Montrose has three options for Nordic Ski rentals or purchase. Montrose Surf and Cycle, The Great Outdoors, and 970 Sports Rewind are all great with friendly staff who will get you set up. If you are bringing your adopted four legged companion for exercise then swing by Chow Down to get him/her setup with some boots. Look no further than the Pawz brand boots that are sold as a 12 pack and biodegradable. These boots allow Fido to still feel the ground while protecting against ice buildup.