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Utah is an outdoor haven in any season. Experience cozy mountain towns to the north, and otherworldly red rock desert landscapes in the south. Between it all are magical valleys, renowned fishing rivers and lakes, and distinct wildlife. Cross country, or Nordic, skiing, is a staple winter activity beloved by residents and visitors. Backcountry or groomed, challenging or chill, there is something to suit beginners and experts. So come feel the year-round warmth of the Utah sun, while skating some of the best powder on earth, at these top cross country destinations.
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Soldier Hollow is best known for being an Olympic venue and having some of the most difficult cross country trails in the world. But don’t worry if you are a beginner! There are plenty of trails that are relaxing and significantly less challenging than the ones that the professional team traverses. Located in Midway, Utah, adventurists will get to soak in the Wasatch Mountain glory.
Brian Head is a phenomenal ski resort in the southeastern region of Utah, not too far from Zion National Park. Attainable downhill slopes, an ice-skating rink, snow tubing hill and gourmet hot chocolate await. But just beyond the resort are majestic cross country trails, such as the one at Cedar Breaks National Monument. When snow meets the red rocks, something truly mesmerizing happens.
Solitude Nordic Center is a great place to build your skills. Different workshops, for different needs, are hosted on a regular basis. Solitude’s beautifully groomed trails are set up for both those who traditional Nordic ski, and those who take on skate skiing. Snowshoeing is also a beloved activity in the area, which is fantastic for those looking for something more on the level of hiking. A bus shuttles visitors to and from the center, from the central village.
What’s really interesting to note about Alta is that it is not a ski resort. In fact, it is dubbed as a “ski area”, and has pristine terrain that receives almost 600 inches of snow annually! While not a resort, still expect to find plenty of food options. Alta has recently revamped its food availability to visitors, with an abundance of grab and go windows. Try the Honey Badger Latte, with cinnamon and honey, or any of the magnificent breakfast burritos on the menus.
White Pine Touring Nordic Center is in the Park City area and has a diverse variety of groomed cross country trails. However, there are a handful of other skiing locations near Park city that shouldn’t be overlooked, such as the Union Pacific Rail Trail. This location is quite historic. The White Pine center is basically right beside all of the activities and restaurants in Park City. So five stars for convenience. Some of the best trout ever and loads of other contemporary dishes can be found at the healthy oriented Five5eeds.
Mountain Dell Golf Course in Salt Lake City is known as the only place you can cross country ski in the entire area that sets tracks daily, according to Ski Utah. Surprisingly, the golf course provides some challenging routes, but there are plenty of relaxing loops as well. You can’t beat the price for a day pass — and younger kids ski for free. Even if you’re not vegan, you should stop by Buds in Salt Lake City to enjoy one of their delicious sandwiches or salads.
Snowbasin has convenient Nordic trails located off to the side of its restaurants and downhill areas. Beginners will find a lot of comfort on these trails, as the green loops are gentle, with rewarding views of meadows and mountains. Of course, those who want to be challenged can certainly do so. Snowbasin has phenomenal food, from breakfast to dinner. You’ll definitely need it because cross country works up a serious appetite. If not staying at the resort, Ogden is a central location with excellent access to the other two ski resorts in the area.
Sundance—a name famed around the world for more than just skiing. But if one would have to pick a time to go, winter would be it. Glistening snow gently weighs on the branches, forming a frosty canopy over the trails. The Nordic center is based in a small yurt a few minutes up the road from the main village—an all-wheel drive vehicle is probably best to reach the parking lot. Head back down to the village and indulge in Dirty Fries, espresso and regional cuisine at The Foundry Grill. Maybe try your hand at soap-making at the art studio after meandering over rivers and through breathtaking scenery.
Bear River Outdoor Recreation Alliance has a variation of yurts available to rent within the lovely Uintas Mountains. Each tent-like permanent structure features a warm fireplace, bunk beds and kitchen. Boy Scouts help maintain the rentals throughout the year. Both backcountry and groomed trails are available but pay attention to the yurt that you are renting because some are only accessible via rugged terrain. Therefore, only highly experienced and skilled cross country skiers should book them. Get ready for magical nights under the stars, and endless days of treading powder. (Part of the recreation area resides in Wyoming.)