cross country skiing and snowshoeing in Winter Park, COlorado

Devil's Thumb Cross-Country Center (970-726-8231, www.devilsthumbranch.com) ) has great views of the mountains and 105 km of trails groomed for both skating and gliding. There are 5 km of new trails surrounding the ranch with great views of the Continental Divide. This is one of the top xc ski resorts in the world! For a full page of info click Devil's Thumb Ranch.

National-level competitors race and train here. The center is 67 miles from Denver and only 10 minutes from Winter Park near Tabernash on County Road 83. Trail fees are $16 a day for adults and $10 for children and seniors; those ages 6 and younger ski free. Private lessons are $40 an hour; group lessons are $25 for a two-hour session. A learn-to-ski package is $50 with rentals and trail fee; children and seniors, $39.

Devil's Thumb has a cozy lodge and 8 cabins. The new cabins are eco-friendly and use geothermal heat for heating and hot water. There are xc ski and snowshoe equipment rentals. Also ice skating and sleigh rides.

Snow Mountain Ranch (970-887-2152; www.ymcarockies.org), 8 miles west of Winter Park on Highway 40, offers 100 km of groomed trails through a variety of terrain - open, wooded, hilly and flat. For a full page of info click Snow Mountain Ranch.

The system includes a lighted 3-km. loop for night skiing. The instruction staff includes national-level coaches and racers. Ski lessons, rentals, lodging, dining and child care are available. There is a full service retail shop and rental equipment for both xc skiing and snowshoeing. The cafe offers light fare and the facility has a swimming pool, sauna, climbing wall and craft shop. Snow Mountain Ranch is also a YMCA with hundreds of affordable lodge rooms, dorm, yurt, and cabin lodging. CCSAA member

Backcountry skiing on the Berthoud Pass (the way to get to Winter Park from Route 70) is very accessible and quite adventurous. You can park the car and climb to the top of the world - but be wary of your safety in the backcountry (avalanches and other danger). Winter Park and the Fraser Valley's extensive mountain biking trails are used in winter for snowshoeing. The trails are easy to follow and often packed down by snowmobile riders. The Winter Park/Fraser Chamber of Commerce has maps and information.

Northwest of Winter Park is the Grand Lake Touring Center in Grand Lake, CO (970-627-8008) has 30 km of groomed trails and 5 km of snowshoe trails. Ski Ptarmigan Tuck and the North Fork of the Colorado River. US Hwy 34 to Granby, County Road 48. It is nearby to the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.