cross country skiing and snowshoeing in Vail, Colorado

The Vail Nordic Center (970-476-8366, www.vailnordiccenter.com) serves xc skiers and snowshoers at the Vail Golf Course with groomed trails and lessons by certified instructors for classic, skate, and privates. The Vail Nordic Center at the golf course has 17 km of groomed trails for skate and classic xc skiing. Equipment rentals are available for xc skiing and snowshoeing. CCSAA member

Snowshoe and backcountry tours are available through the Vail Resorts Ski School (970-754-4390) The Vail Nordic School at Golden Peak has been beefed up. Here guided tours and instruction are available through the Vail Nordic Ski School, where instructors specialize in telemark skiing, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing. Guests can book snowshoeing tours, xc ski lessons and tours. Telemark workshops are scheduled throughout the season and include adult and kids sessions, too.The backcountry tours use 35 different trails in the White River National Forest.

For a truly different Nordic experience at an Alpine ski area, head to the McCoy Park Cross-Country, Telemark and Snowshoe Center (970-754-5313, www.beavercreek.com) at the top of Beaver Creek's Strawberry Park Express Lift. Instead of xc skiing on the flats (usually a golf course) at the base of a ski area, you'll be on a 32 km system at the summit, 9,840 feet, with spectacular views in every direction.

Groomed and tracked for both skating and classic skiing, the cross country ski trail system has one advanced (and exciting) loop, the Wild Side trail, but is basically beginner and intermediate. An ungroomed single track for snowshoers is called the Upper Atlas Traverse. Skiers and snowshoers can take one of several trails to the base, download on the Strawberry Park Express Lift or take the very gradual Home Comfort trail (6 km) all the way down—fun with new snow to slow you down but speedy if there is hard pack.

Half-day track tours and half-day xc ski lessons are available. The park also has snowshoe rentals and tours. Full day snowshoe tour includes gourmet lunch are available. Private all day lessons in xc, telemark or snowshoe are also available and all these costs are pricey. CCSAA member

The Paragon Guides (877-926-5299, 970-926-5299, www.paragonguides.com) is a guide service that offers individuals or groups trips to the 10th Mountain Huts in the Vail region. They provide a variety of trips from introduction to the backcountry to more difficult multi-day trips and day tours using one hut as a base. the huts are equipped with a wood stove, cooking stove, solar electricity, lights, wooden outhouses, sleeping bags and food so that you can travel light. Huts can accommodate 8-16 cross country skiers.

Typical trips include a 3-day Adventure, 4-day Norpine and a 6-day excursion on a 45 mile route from Vail to Aspen with stops at 3 huts and a guest ranch along the way. During high season trips can start at $990 but there are lower priced offerings during the season shoulders.