- Between Howelsen Hill, Rabbit Ears Pass, and Pearl Lake, the cross country terrain is stellar.
- A day on cross country skis can be a relaxing, family-oriented affair at one of the Nordic Centers.
- There is backcountry access reserved to non-motorized sports, assuring a quiet, peaceful excursion.
- Under-used state parks become perfect areas in winter.
Cross country skiing has a long history in Colorado, including all three styles: classic Nordic skiing, ski touring and skate skiing.
- The classic style feels a lot like running or hiking on snow. It is a great activity for beginning skiers or families.
- Nordic ski touring is very similar to classic cross country skiing, except the skis have metal edges and “fish scales” that prevent the skis from sliding backwards. These are the skis generally used on multi-day backcountry trips.
- Skate skiing is the newest member of the cross country ski family. While it may prove difficult to master, it provides a fun, full body workout on a groomed track.
Where to go Cross Country Skiing
Rabbit Ears Pass
If you've been exploring this site for some time, you may have noticed that Rabbit Ears Pass consistently comes up as a place for backcountry activity of all sorts. There is a great reason for this: it's truly that versatile and exciting.
Cross country skiers have a quality selection of trails on the pass, mostly easy and moderate, with some expert terrain available to the adventurous. Try West Summit Loop A or B, or Bruce's Trail.
Rabbit Ears Pass is 14 miles southeast of town on US 40.
Stagecoach State Park
While its 780-acre reservoir acts as a focal point of activity year-round, winter is quiet and reserved for the cross country skiers and snowshoers who venture out to this pleasant trail system, including 8 miles of trails to explore.
Stagecoach is located 16 miles south of Steamboat, taking Hwy 40 to CO-131, then turning onto Co Rd 14.
Pearl Lake State Park
It may be small, but this state park is a true gem. Nestled right against the Routt National Forest, this state park has two yurts for multi-day adventures, including the incredible option of cross country skiing into the remote backcountry. Make the reservations early, as they fill up quickly.
Pearl Lake is north of Steamboat Springs about 25 miles. Head north on County Rd. 129, past Clark, taking a right on County Rd. 209.
- Steamboat Ski Touring Center: Offering day passes, this ski center has groomed tracks for skate and classic skiing. Located on Steamboat Blvd. Call 970-879-8180 for details or visit their website.
- Lake Catamount Ski Touring Center: From Hwy 40, take 131 South to County Road 18. Call ahead for details: 970-871-6667.
- Howelsen Ski Area: This small ski area also offers 13 miles of groomed nordic track. Call 970-879-8499 for details.
Rentals & Fees
Shops in Steamboat Springs provide a wide array of equipment rentals, including telemark skis, cross country skis of all varieties, and other necessary gear for a great cross country ski excursion.
Nordic Centers usually have packages for pass and rental bundles, as well as family and group discounts.