Utah is famous for world-class skiing. And the same powder that creates perfect trails for alpine skiing is also an ingredient for world-class cross-country skiing throughout the state.
Cross-country skiing is growing in popularity in Utah. Hundreds of athletes from all over the world train in Olympic venues at Soldier Hollow. Even athletes from other sports find hitting the cross-country trails appealing because of the physical challenge it offers.
“Nordic skiing offers an entirely different experience,” says Richard Hodges, president of the Utah Nordic Alliance. “My son says cross-country skiers are tougher because we ski up the hills first.”
Hodges believes cross-country trails offer a perfect introduction to skiing for beginners.
“It’s great exercise,” he says. “It’s inexpensive. It’s a great family activity. Alpine skiing can get a little complicated when you’re skiing with kids.”
Whether you are a first-timer or seasoned pro, these locales should be on the top of your must-ski list:
Soldier Hollow @ Midway
Nothing beats going to an Olympic venue to get your cross-country skiing fix. Soldier Hollow hosted biathlon and cross-country skiing during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Now, it’s a permanent training site for several national teams. It features 16 miles of trails winding through the trees and hills of Wasatch Mountain State Park, just outside Midway.
Cross-country trails at Soldier Hollow offer varying levels of difficulty. Skiers can challenge themselves on trails designed for Olympic competition. These are among the most challenging cross-country trails in the world. Other, newer trails installed since 2002 are more accessible to beginner and intermediate skiers. “The courses were set up to be world-class difficulty, so they’ve put in a bunch of trails that make it much more accessible to beginners,” Hodges says.
Soldier Hollow offers breathtaking scenery with an up-close view of Mount Timpanogos. Trail passes start at $15 for adults and $9 for children ages 7 to 17. Children under 7 can ski for free. Soldier Hollow also offers lessons and on-site equipment rentals.
2002 Olympic Drive, Midway, 435-654-2002, SoldierHollow.com
Mountain Dell Golf Course @ Parley’s Canyon
If you need a crash-course introduction to cross-country skiing, there’s no better place than the Mountain Dell Golf Course in Parley’s Canyon. The Utah Nordic Alliance sets fresh track daily with help from a crew of volunteers.
Classic skiers and skaters have five distinct loops that range from beginner to advanced difficulty. The main loop is just 1.63 miles long. The big loop, which incorporates portions of the other four loops, goes for 4.84 miles and takes skiers near the southern shore of the Mountain Dell Reservoir.
A day pass to Mountain Dell costs $5 for adults. Skiers 17 and younger get in for free. There are skiing lessons available onsite, but no equipment rentals are available.
Lower Parley’s Canyon, Interstate 80, Exit 134
White Pine @ Park City
White Pine Touring’s Nordic Center is one of Utah’s oldest and most popular cross-country destinations. It is located on the Park City Golf Course and offers three groomed trail loops winding through nearby meadows and past lodges and condos. Each loop is groomed regularly, and trails are designed to accommodate beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Loop distances are three kilometers, five kilometers and 10 kilometers and offer breathtaking views of the Wasatch Mountains.
Day passes, equipment rentals and ski lessons are all offered onsite. Day passes start at $8 for children ages 6 to 12, and $18 for adults. Season passes are also available; individual passes start at $275 and family passes start at $375.
Park Avenue & Thaynes Canyon Drive, Park City, 435-649-6249, WhitePineTouring.com
Beaver Creek Trail @ Kamas
If you are an experienced cross-country skier who wants to avoid the resorts and touring centers, Beaver Creek Trail is the perfect destination. It winds through a scenic stretch of the Uinta Mountains, just outside of Kamas, and offers the chance to see deer or elk that have come down from higher elevations to feed.
The Beaver Creek Trail is a groomed, six-mile trail that goes between Yellow Pine and North Fork near the border of the Wasatch National Forest. The trail offers rugged climbs and is a nice challenge for intermediate skiers. It costs just $6 for a three-day pass to park along the Mirror Lake Highway. Those passes can be purchased at the local ranger station in Kamas.
Highway 150, Kamas, 435-783-4338
Bryce Canyon National Park
Another skiing destination can be found in southern Utah at Bryce Canyon National Park. This is the place for those who enjoy hiking through narrow canyons and red rock scenery.
Trailheads begin at Ruby’s Inn just outside of Bryce Canyon. Thirty kilometers of groomed trails take skiers on a grand tour of the Bryce Canyon area. The scenery features everything from distinctive hoodoos to majestic red rock spires. Day passes cost $15 for adults and $10 for children. Half-day passes cost $10 for adults and $7 for children.
26 S. Main, Bryce Canyon City, 435-834-5341