Grand County Colorado is famous for having some of the very best cross-country skiing areas in North America. The local area boasts a combined total of 350 kilometers of groomed trails at its five public Nordic centers. Most of these centers also offer equipment rentals, instruction, retail sales and other amenities.

Devils Thumb Ranch

A 2003 Fischer Nordic Poll of avid cross-country enthusiasts rated Devil’s Thumb Ranch #1 for scenery, #4 for grooming, and #7 overall out of all Nordic resorts in North America. Located north of Winter Park and with more than 130km of groomed trails nestled in the pristine and private Ranch Creek valley, Devil’s Thumb is the premiere Nordic center in Colorado for skate or classic Nordic skiing.

Novices can start the day with a private or group lesson from one of the resort’s friendly instructors. More seasoned Nordic enthusiasts will find their advanced technique clinics helpful. And of course, a wide variety of quality equipment is available for purchase or rental, including infant sleds and skijoring.

Devil’s Thumb’s specialty is its world-class grooming. Trails are groomed to perfection every day with snowcats and snowmobiles. Terrain includes 130k of both skate and classic; with 20k of snowshoe trails. Every adventurous skier should take the time to challenge themselves on the new ski trails, featuring “Lactic Grande” which takes you far above the valley with incredible vistas of the base area.

A member of the Colorado Cross Country Association, Devil’s Thumb offers group and private lessons for classic and skate skiing. Both private lessons and group lessons are available on weekdays and weekends. Reservations can be made for snowshoe and ski tours at (970) 726-8231. The National Ski Center for the Disabled (NSCD) cross-country ski program operates out of the facility.

Hours of operation at the Nordic shop daily from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. Adult trail fees are $20 for a full day and $8 for kids under 12 and seniors 65 and older.

Special Events during the winter include: Swix Waxing Clinics, Skijoring clinics, Governors Cup, ski spa and soak Day (register at active.com or call Zack’s mercantile shop for registration); Devil’s Thumb Free Lesson Day, Full Moon Ski Tours, Ski-O and snowshoe-O and Grand County Public schools’ Kid Fun Day.

Directions: From Denver: West on I-70 to exit 232 HWY 40 west. Pass through Winter Park and Fraser. 3.5 miles past Fraser, take a right on County Road 83 and follow 3.5 miles to the ranch.

Grand Lake Touring Center

With scenic panoramas of the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapaho National Forest, the Grand Lake Touring Center offers the beginner to advanced skier and snowshoe a variety of terrain.

Whether you would like a gentle ski around the rolling trails of the golf course, or a venture into the forest, there are 35km of tracked and skating trails waiting for you. The Center also serves as the trailhead for many more challenging backcountry trails that stretch out into the public lands that border the property.

Open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM, the price of a day pass is $12 for adults and $5 for children. The Grand Lake Touring Center is also sponsoring some fun events this winter including Full Moon ski events, and Annual Grand Lake Classic 10K race.

For more information, call the Grand Lake Touring Center at 970-627-8008.

Snow Mountain Ranch

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

The Nordic Center offers skiers 110 kilometers of groomed trails for all abilities. Trails are well marked and designated for beginner, intermediate and expert skiers. There is also a 2km lighted trail for night skiing.
The operation at Snow Mountain Ranch is so highly regarded that world-class Nordic events are held there every year. But it also is well known as a great place for families to spend a pleasant afternoon touring on skis.

The Nordic Center operates 7 days a week from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM. Trail fees for the day are $10 for YMCA guests and members, $12 for non-members; and $5 for seniors and children aged 6-12. Group and private lessons are also offered.

For more information, call the Snow Mountain Nordic Center at 970-887-2152 ext. 4173.