Get Outside: Ten Cross-Country Skiing Destinations Near Denver

Scenic views from the Frisco Nordic Center.
Scenic views from the Frisco Nordic Center. Unsplash / Kenneth MacClune
There are several ways to experience alpine skiing in Colorado, from luxurious resorts to backcountry trails. Cross-country skiing, too, can be undertaken with amenities nearby or in remote wilderness.

But while the two sports share this similarity, they are very different. Unlike the steep terrain of alpine/downhill skiing, cross-country/Nordic skiing involves gentle, rolling terrain. There are also two styles of cross-country skiing: classic, which is more beginner-friendly and similar to walking with skis; and skate, which involves gliding techniques to build greater speed.

This guide to cross-country skiing near Denver covers destinations for all preferences and experience levels, as well as nearby attractions to create the perfect trip itinerary:

Roxborough State Park
When snow conditions allow, Roxborough State Park is a convenient place to Nordic ski near Denver. It's about a forty-minute drive from downtown, traffic depending, and is home to three ideal cross-country ski trails. These include Fountain Valley Loop (2.6 miles), Willow Creek Trail (1.4 miles), and the extended South Rim and Willow Creek Loop (2.8 miles). Scrub oak line these hilly paths, and views of red sandstone formations amaze. Per Colorado Parks and Wildlife, skiing off-trail is not permitted, and a $10 daily vehicle pass is required.

Bakerville to Loveland Trail
Silver Plume
If you’re up for a workout, head to this trail connecting Bakerville to Loveland Ski Resort. Starting from the eastern end, this 9.8-mile route gains a gradual 1,128-foot elevation gain. You’ll hear I-70 traffic at first, but this fades as you ascend into the snow-dusted evergreen forest. Enjoy scenic solitude followed by a quick descent back to the lot. This destination sees far less traffic compared to so,e on this list, but you may meet a few others snowshoeing and fat-tire biking.

Silver Dale Trails
From Georgetown, drive two miles along Guanella Pass Road to reach the Silver Dale trails. Parking is available at the trailhead, which leads to multiple easy paths. For a great overview of this former mining area, take the Silver Dale Heritage Trail. The meandering 2.2-mile cross-country ski route passes two retired tunnels and includes a detour to the Georgetown Reservoir. You’ll be surrounded by impressive peaks though a relatively flat trail.
All ages are welcome at YMCA of the Rockies - Snow Mountain Ranch.
Unsplash / J G D

Eldora Mountain Nordic Center
Although the above destinations are closest to Denver, all the remaining sites on this list have modern amenities — which are ideal for first-time Nordic skiers. This includes Eldora Mountain Nordic Center, which offers on-site rentals and lessons for all skill levels. You’ll also find forty kilometers (24.9 miles) of groomed trails that wind through picturesque valleys and forests. Day passes are $30-$35 throughout the season, which ends on March 31.

Keystone Nordic Center
Just west of Keystone Resort lies the quieter, equally scenic Keystone Nordic Center. It features over 17 kilometers (10.6 miles) of groomed trails, plus access to forty additional kilometers (24.9 miles) of backcountry routes in the White River National Forest. Ninety-minute group lessons for beginners are held daily, which include rental equipment and your daily trail fee. After skiing, consider nearby attractions, as Keystone offers some of the best snow tubing and ice skating near Denver.

Frisco Nordic Center
The views from the Frisco Nordic Center, set near the shores of Lake Dillon, are unbeatable. Given early-season conditions, the area currently offers twenty kilometers (12.4 miles) of groomed trails. But soon this will increase to 28 kilometers (17.4 miles) of cross-country ski routes, granting all skill levels plenty to explore. Day passes are $27 per adult and $22 for seniors over 65; children twelve and under ski free. New skiers will appreciate on-site rentals and lessons (check the website for rates). Come March 11, don’t miss the annual Frisco BrewSki event featuring costumes and beer-tasting tents along the snowy trails!

Breckenridge Nordic Center
The Breckenridge Nordic Center is a great day trip from Denver, roughly an hour and a half from downtown. Visitors can explore over 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of groomed trails, the majority of which are intermediate routes. But beginners will enjoy this center, too, given its suitable terrain, convenient on-site rentals and available lessons. The “Oh, Be Joyful” lodge is another perk, providing stunning views and a full bar, which offers a daily happy hour from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Complete your itinerary with a Golden Horseshoe Sleigh Rides dinner tour, one of the best winter sleigh rides in Colorado.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa
Cross-country skiing at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa is one of the best outdoorsy Colorado experiences. Compared to other destinations on this list, it ties for the greatest distance of groomed trails — an impressive 120 kilometers (74.6 miles). Some are open to skijoring, a sport that involves harnessing your dog and having them pull you along on skis. Another unique 2.5-kilometer (1.6-mile) section is lit, allowing cross-country skiing at night. Trails meet the needs of all skill levels, and lessons and rentals are available on site. Nordic trail day passes range in price, but weekend adult rates are $25 per lodging guest or $40 per non-lodging guest.

Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center
YMCA of the Rockies - Snow Mountain Ranch is home to a variety of outdoor recreation. But in the winter, one of its greatest draws is the expansive Nordic center. Like Devil’s Thumb Ranch, it offers 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) of groomed trails for all abilities. Single-day passes are $29 per adult and $14 per child ages six to twelve; children five and younger are free. Cross-country skiing is also complimentary for overnight guests. Accommodation options include lodge rooms, private ranch-style cabins and cozy heated yurts. If you stay for the weekend, don’t miss the nearby Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa, one of the best Colorado hot springs.

Tennessee Pass Nordic Center
Take in breathtaking views of the Sawatch mountains at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. Twenty-seven kilometers (16.8 miles) of groomed trails span the area, with the majority being green, beginner-friendly routes. All experience levels will love this center, though, especially given its unique amenities. Here, guests can ski 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles) to the cookhouse, which serves lunch on weekends and delicious four-course dinners daily. A short distance southwest of this site lie several sleep yurts, the perfect place to stargaze and end a day outdoors.
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