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Best Cross-Country Skiing in Vail

Posted at Mar 12, 2021 8:30:00 AM by Pat O'Connor

cross country skiing

Need a break from alpine skiing? Want to still enjoy the outdoors in Vail without the crowds? Are you in need of a cardio workout?

If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, it’s time to give cross-country skiing a try. If you enjoy both hiking and alpine skiing, cross-country skiing provides an outstanding cardiovascular workout while enjoying Colorado’s picturesque scenery.

In particular, the Vail Valley provides an awe-inspiring backdrop that will make the hours spent cross-country skiing most memorable. With the Gore Range and the northern tip of the Sawatch Mountains surrounding the valley, there is no better place to experience a different type of “spring skiing.”

While alpine skiing and snowboarding garner the headlines in Vail, the intimate Vail Nordic Center on the Vail Golf Course and McCoy Park Cross-Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center at Beaver Creek offer top-notch experiences and equipment rentals. Whether you’ve interested in skiing machine-set tracks or a groomed skating surface, they will have the right gear to fit your style. And if backcountry adventures are more to your liking, Paragon Guides in Edwards is ready to map your course.

Check out these three outfitters and choose the one that best meets your needs. 

Vail Nordic Center

Situated just east of the Golden Peak area of Vail, the Vail Nordic Center is one of the best kept secrets in Vail. With over 10 miles of trails for both skating and classic skiing, this idyllic setting on the Vail Golf Course provides easy access from your Vail accommodations. Furthermore, there are specified trails for snowshoeing and even riding a fat tire bike! 

If you’re new to cross-country skiing or skating, consider taking a lesson beforehand. Their knowledgeable staff will provide you with expert instruction on how to get the most out of your time on the trails. 

There are on-site rentals for classic skiing, skating and backcountry skiing as well as snowshoes, fat bikes and even sleds to pull the kids! And don’t forget to check out the full-service retail store offering a variety of merchandise for outdoor sports including snowshoeing, cross country skiing, running and hiking. The Vail Nordic Center is also an official Rossignol demo center.

The Nordic Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter season. No reservation is required. The tracks are maintained and groomed daily at 8 a.m. If six inches of snow falls by midday after grooming, the snowmobile with the sled will be pulled over the 5K loop for additional grooming.

McCoy Park

Accessed via the Strawberry Park Lift (chair 12), McCoy Park is a true gem nestled in the Beaver Creek Ski Area. Featuring over 20 miles of groomed and untracked terrain, this amazing area is a hallmark of Beaver Creek’s diverse ski mountain. Offering impressive views and equally notable facilities, this area offers an array of easy and intermediate trails, which allow for some elevation gain as well as descent opportunities. 

In Beaver Creek Village, you’ll find the Nordic Sports Center which is located across from the covered bridge in the Strawberry Park building and next to chair 12. It is open daily through Sunday, April 4. Offering everything you need for your cross-country ski excursion, the Nordic Sports Center features a complete rental shop with classical, skate, telemark, and snowshoe equipment rentals. There are daily scheduled and private lessons along with tours, ticket sales, retail and snacks.

EpicPass holders do not need advanced reservations for track access. Just stop by the Nordic Center ticket window to obtain a track access ticket. 

Non-EpicPass holders will need to make 48-hour advanced reservations for all cross country lessons, snowshoe tours and private lessons. If you need equipment rentals, make sure to book 24 hours in advance. No reservations are required for daily McCoy park track access tickets. 

Paragon Guides

Looking for a true backcountry experience while in Vail? Consider booking a cross-country tour with Paragon Guides in Edwards. Since 1978, they have provided expert guide services for people who want an exceptional outdoor experience that is off the beaten path. 

Paragon Guides will assist your group of family members or friends with a private tour. This is an ideal way to experience the backcountry on your terms. Our professional guides will provide an experience built for your objectives, skill set and fitness level. Whether you are a beginner looking for an introduction to a backcountry touring experience or a seasoned touring enthusiast, you’ll get the most out of the day with a private tour.

Additionally, there are scheduled group tours (maximum of 8 people). These tours are typically 5-8 hours long, and the location of the tours vary. 

Paragon Guides can get you set up with rentals, ranging from conventional backcountry skis to splitboards. For reservations, contact Paragon Guides at 970-926-5299. If you have questions about rentals, call 970-827-5363.

Posted by Pat O'Connor

Pat O’Connor has dual citizenship in both Wisconsin and Colorado, having been born and raised in Wisconsin Dells, but later adopted by the Centennial State. A graduate of the University of Colorado (B.S. Journalism, 1980), O’Connor began her career as a sportswriter at the Boulder Daily Camera under the tutelage of the venerable Dan Creedon. Her experience also includes stints in public relations at Aspen Highlands Ski Area, the Colorado Trial Lawyers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. When she isn’t piecing together sentences, the self-proclaimed “Cheesehead” enjoys hanging out with her three kids and assortment of family pets, running, playing golf, hiking 14ers, horseback riding and skiing. As a mother to two (at one time three) competitive swimmers, her favorite fragrance is eau de chlorine. During football season, she can be found cheering for the Buffs on Saturdays and screaming when the Packers score on Sundays. She loves talking sports and giving recommendations on cheese curds.

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Topics: Vail Real Estate