cross country skiing and snowshoeing in Northern and Western Colorado

Vista Verde Ranch (970-879-3858; 800-526-7433, www.vistaverde.com ), is a 4-star ranch in a secluded area outside of Steamboat Springs with 30 km of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing. Lessons and rental equipment for xc ski, snowshoe and telemark are available. Vista Verde's 30 km system is especially good for beginners—most of the terrain is quite gentle. Day care, sleigh rides, dog sleds and a hot tub on the premises. Backcountry tours area tailored to individual guest's abilities and interests and are usually a maximum of 4-5 people per tour (and sometimes one on one). The backcountry tours are adventurous but safe and within skiers' limits.With gourmet meals and luxurious accommodations, Vista Verde is in high demand.Guests are limited to about 30 people to insure personalized attention from the staff and full enjoyment of the ranch. For a full page of info about Vista Verde Ranch click here. CCSAA member

The Steamboat Ski Touring Center at 2000 Clubhouse Drive has about 40 km of groomed trails for classic and skate skiing winding along Fish Creek and the surrounding countryside. The touring center has group and private instruction, rentals, a restaurant, and backcountry guided tours. Snowshoeing also is available on 10 km of trails.

Home Ranch  and High Meadows Ranch are guest ranches 18-25 miles from Steamboat Springs. They cater to overnight guests, but day visitors also are welcome. Home Ranch has 40 km of groomed track, and it offers cross-country, backcountry and telemarking. High Meadows grooms about 12 km, with additional trails groomed as needed.

The Spruce Lodge Resort in Cedaredge on the Grand Mesa (the largest flat top mesa in the world) is amidst 340,000 acres of Forest Service land. In west central Colorado about an hour from Grand Junction and the Montrose Airport, this self contained resort has a view of 5 different mountain ranges and is along a National Scenic & Historic Byway. Grand Mesa Nordic Council maintains 35 km network of trails 100 yards from the lodge.

Track skiing is available at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs where competitions are held in a stadium-like environment next to the nordic ski jumping venue. There are 15 km of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing. CCSAA member

The Latigo Cross Country Ski Ranch is another ranch in the Steamboat region, which is located outside of Kremmling, CO. There are 65 km of groomed trails with lessons and rental equipment available for xc skiing and snowshoeing. CCSAA member

For a real thrill, take a tour to Rabbit Ears Pass (guided tours available through Steamboat Touring Center and Ski Haus, 970-879-0385); you'll be skiing on the Continental Divide. The marked backcountry ski trails range from 1.7 to 7 miles, from relatively gentle slopes to steep and gnarly, but on a clear day you can see forever. Call or visit the U.S. Forest Service (29587 W. US 40 in Steamboat Springs, 970-879-1722) to get current ski conditions and safety tips. Other popular backcountry areas are Buffalo Pass, Pearl Lake State Park, Stagecoach State Recreation Area and Steamboat Lake State Park.