Life in 'downhill mode' comes at exhilarating, fast speeds, and what’s not to love about Utah’s 15 ski resorts?
But there is so much more to explore in Utah’s backcountry, and Nordic skiing is a memorable way to do it. Cross-country skiing expresses something deep about the human condition: the long, frigid grinds through wind-whipped frosted landscapes. Only to be rewarded with glacial valleys so pure you'll swear Midas' golden touch instead turned everything white.
Don't miss my round-up of some of Utah's top Nordic skiing destinations that will take you to Nordic Centers, across BLM land, high-elevation golf courses, and untapped national forests on the skinniest of skis.
It’s no surprise that the resort valued by the “purists” would cater to Nordic skiing as well. Alta has a small cut of paradise with a 5 km groomed track between the Albion and Wildcat Base Areas that winds up the summer road. Alta Ski Area rents classic skate, telemark, and snowshoe gear through the Albion Alta Ski Shop.
The Solitude Mountain Resort Nordic Center boasts 20 km of groomed trails, lessons, clinics, rentals, and snowshoe tours. The terrain is groomed for both classic and skate skiing. It's also easily accessible from the Solitude Village via a free shuttle that departs at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. You’ll find tickets and snowshoe rentals at the Powderhorn Adventure and Nordic Center and Nordic ski rentals are only available at the Solitude Nordic Center. Half-day pass is $16 (ages 13-64); Junior passes $12 (ages 5-12) and a snowshoe day pass is $8.
Easily one of the most scenic locations for Nordic skiing in Utah is Sundance Mountain Resort. Which is home to 15 km of immaculately groomed trails and a separate 10 km of dedicated snowshoe trails through a canopied forest. The Sundance Nordic Center has rentals, new demo equipment and lessons. Half-day adult passes are $14; Junior (age 7-17): $6. Seniors and 7 and under are free.
If you’re in the Park City area, the White Pine Touring Center offers you a very comprehensive Nordic skiing experience. Start with the 3 km loop at the White Pine Nordic Center, groomed exclusively for Nordic skiers. Move onto their 5 km loop for a few more hills, or venture out even further to the iconic McPolin Farm’s more challenging 10 km loop with some of Park City’s most beautiful views. You must purchase a day pass to use the track; rentals and lessons are offered on-site. Season passes and 10-day punch passes are also available. A full day Nordic ski rental is $30 for adults and if you want to bring your kids, rent a kids ski trailer for $15 and tow them along.
Nordic ski like a local in Park City by tapping into the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail’s 28-mile non-motorized groomed trail. That extends from about 6,800 feet above sea level in Park City across wetland meadows in Silver Creek Canyon. Then goes through the towns of Wanship and Coalville and along the Weber River down to 5,500 feet at Echo Reservoir. There are several places to access the trail that can be found here.
Head northeast of Old Town Park City, and you will stumble upon Round Valley’s 700 acres of preserved open space. This hotspot for mountain biking is a local’s favorite in the winter for Nordic skiing, and fat-tire biking with approximately 25 km of Nordic track groomed daily. There are no facilities here, and the best access points are from Quinn’s Junction, Highland, and Round Valley Way Trailheads. The Mountain Trails Foundation updates a grooming report daily.
The Mountain Dell Golf Course in Parley’s Canyon is the only ski venue in Salt Lake City that sets track daily, and averages about 90 days of set ski and classic track each winter. The current 10 km course configuration has five distinct loops, with trails that range from easy to challenging. A day pass will run you $10 while juniors under 18 ski free. Season passes can also be purchased. Another great option is Mill Creek Canyon near Salt Lake City. Closed to motorized vehicles in the winter, this moderately sloped road becomes a groomed cross-country ski mecca and is a great workout.
The Wasatch Mountain Golf Course’s undulating 10 km of groomed diagonal stride and skating lanes on the “lake” course are local favorites for their gorgeous views and quick access. On a big snow year, they also groom their “mountain” course which takes you several miles up, up, up into the state park’s most pristine and untouched wilderness. Nordic ski rentals are available for $12 a day + the price of your Utah State Park Pass. Be sure to warm up afterward in the Homestead Crater’s therapeutic 90-degree waters.
The opportunities are almost endless in the Uinta Mountains... but most of the terrain is not maintained. If you want some true backcountry splendor ski the Beaver Creek Trail, a groomed 6-mile trail between Yellow Pine and North Fork areas. There are no facilities in the area, and there is a nominal fee to park along the Mirror Lake Highway. For a memorable overnighter or multi-day trip, tap into the Bear River Outdoor Recreation Alliance’s backcountry yurts.
If you’re skiing at Brian Head Resort, make sure to also explore southern Utah’s red rock country on skinny skis. The surrounding Nordic ski areas include the town trails, nearby Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Cedar Canyon. Rentals can be found in town at Georg’s Ski Shop and Brian Head Sports. Venture out a little further near Bryce Canyon National Park, and you’ll find 50 km of groomed trails, lessons, and rentals near Best Western Ruby's Inn that extend into the park. Another great option is 30 miles east of Cedar City at Duck Creek Village. Located on the edge of a large meadow in the Dixie National Forest, these groomed trails can lead you to caves, lava fields, and Anaszi ruins.
The Ogden Nordic Center is passionately run by a dedicated team of volunteers. There are 20 km of trails in North Fork Park, which are accessible via the South Gate trailhead. A day pass is $10 and rentals are $12 for adults, $10 for teens, and $8 for children. Venture further north to Sherwood Hills near Logan to enjoy 15 km of trails (5 km groomed).
If you’re looking for additional information on Nordic skiing in Utah, the Utah Nordic Alliance is a ski club that promotes cross-country skiing in Salt Lake City and Northern Utah.