Explore nature, away from the hustle and bustle of Vail Mountain on a Nordic skiing adventure. Nordic skiing is a calm peaceful activity through the wilderness on classic cross-country or skate skis.
What is Cross-Country Skiing?
Long before it was a sport, cross-country skiing was a necessity of daily life as a form of transportation from Scandinavia to Siberia. It evolved into a sport sometime in the late 18th century, once more reliable forms of transportation were developed. Cross-country skiing hit the big times when it was featured in the 1988 Olympics, though many people have been practicing the recreational form (also known as touring) for a couple of centuries. Over the past few decades the genre evolved, and now, Nordic sports also include Telemark skiing, snowshoeing, AT touring and split-boarding.
What is the difference between backcountry and cross-country skiing? As the attraction of the winter environment has grown so has the various methods of snow travel expanded. Cross-country skiing is steeped in tradition long before the advent of ski lifts and groomed slopes. The opportunity to blend exercise with the rhythmic “kick and glide” of cross-country skiing is attractive to those looking for a quiet experience away from the crowds and into the wonderful world of ski touring. Backcountry skiing although relatively new is an extension of traditional cross-country skiing. For those looking beyond meadows and gentle slopes for the chance to ski un-tracked powder, the new generation of AT and Telemark equipment offers touring in bigger terrain for those seeking powder turns. Trade-offs? Cross-country gear is lightweight and simple / Backcountry gear tends to be heavier, focusing as much on the downhill as the touring.
And, if you thought downhill skiing or snowboarding keeps you in great shape, try a day on a pair of cross-country skis and you’ll understand why these athletes are so unbelievably fit. Nordic skiing uses virtually every muscle in your body to propel you forward. In fact, many experts recommend that you spend time strength conditioning before you begin cross-country skiing as a serious hobby.
When is Cross-Country Skiing Available?
Nordic skiing is available from mid-November through March (or when the snow melts), conditions permitting.
What To Wear & Bring
Dress in lighter layers than you would wear skiing, because you are working harder! Comfortable winter clothes, layers, hat, gloves, eye protection, sunscreen and water are a must. Don’t worry if you are new to the sport, lessons and rentals are available! We invite you to visit one of our Nordic Centers and give it a try!
Vail Nordic Center
When the snow blankets the Vail Golf Club, it becomes the full-service Vail Nordic Center. Glide along 17 kilometers of daily-groomed skate and classic track scenic trails. Lessons and clinics, along with complete rental equipment are available. The Nordic Center also serves as a one-stop shop for all your backcountry needs including clothing, backpacks and snowshoes. The pro shop carries a full line of Fischer, Salomon and Rossignol skis and boots; Swix, Salomon, Patagonia, Bjørn Dæhlie, Kari Traa and Dynafit clothing; Atlas and Crescent Moon snowshoes, and the valley’s most comprehensive waxes – Swix and HWK. Rentals are available for classic, skate and backcountry skis, and sleds to pull kids. The Vail Nordic Center is also an official Rossignol demo center.
Vail Resorts Nordic School
Cross-country ski tours are available for the beginner on up to expert. Explore the spectacular wilderness areas that surround Vail where it all started on cross-country skis. Full and half day private tours and lessons, or group tours available. Located at the Golden Peak Nordic Desk. All guests are provided equipment & water.
Backcountry Cross-Country Tours
Indulge yourself in winters beauty on a cross country ski tour with Paragon Guides. Join your private guide on a solo outing, or travel with family, friends, and colleagues. Perfect for beginning and experienced skiers, or anyone seeking a memorable winter escape. Tours last 4 – 6 hours and include cross-country skis, boots, poles, gaiters, instruction and lunch. Transportation is provided for up to 8 participants. Backcountry AT Touring private and group trips, along with rentals are also available for day and overnight hut trips.