Speeding down mountains and gliding over snow is an exhilarating way to spend winter, but sometimes it’s nicer to take things at your own pace.
Unlike alpine skiing, cross-country skiing allows you to explore the terrain at your own pace, perhaps even working in a bit of sightseeing with your exercise. But not all resorts that are renowned for their mountains offer the same experience for skiers.
In addition to the quality of the trails, there needs to be breathtaking views to make a cross-country skiing destination great. A variety of activities and a thriving apres-ski scene never hurts, either.
These eight destinations are among the best places in the world for a memorable cross-country skiing excursions. Happy trails.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Colorado
Despite an intimidating name, the cross-country ski trails at Devil’s Thumb are accommodating for a wide range of skill levels. There are more than 50 miles of trails underneath the shadow of the nearby Gore Range peaks. Novice skiers can take part in the group lessons on the trails while experienced adventurers can attempt to cover as much ground as possible. At the end of the day, book a restorative treatment at the Ranch Creek Spa and decompress in the hot tub.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley considers itself the birthplace of destination skiing. It also calls itself Nordic Town, USA. As a combination, it’s the perfect travel destination for a cross-country skiing trip. Nordic skiers have more than 125 miles of connected trails to explore throughout the area, ensuring that the expeditions will never get monotonous. Visit at the end of January to partake in the Sun Valley Nordic Festival, with races and events.
Maine Huts & Trails, Maine
Perhaps the idea of skiing across 50 miles of cross-country trails seems daunting, but rest easy in knowing that there are places to catch your breath at Maine Huts & Trails. As the name of the resort may suggest, huts are set up along the trails, offering a place to start and stop every night. The trails are a scenic way to experience the backwoods of Maine with unparalleled views mountain vistas.
Peer Gynt Trail, Norway
Peer Gynt is a larger-than-life figure in Norwegian culture. The explorer was mythologized in a five-act play and has become the namesake of Peer Gynt country. The 50-mile trail takes approximately seven days to complete and is considered among Norway’s best cross-country skiing for its detours, lodges and mountain views.
Cirque du Gavarnie, France
While Cirque du Gavarnie may not have the biggest selection of cross-country trails, it may lay claim to the world’s most beautiful. It’s a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Pyrenees Mountains. Visit for uncrowded trails, a family-friendly atmosphere, and relatively cheap entrance fees. Stay all day because the views are so incredible.
Ammassalik Island, Greenland
Greenland comes alive with snowfall and cross-country skiing is a viable way of transport. The ski trails around the town of Tasiilaq are among the most popular in the country. Cross-country skiing in Greenland is a unique adventure. Because the region is so sparsely populated, skiers will often spend the night in portable huts on multi-day treks. An absence of light pollution means that stars and the northern lights are on full display every night.
Ylläs Ski Resort, Finland
The largest ski resort in Lapland, with more than 200 miles of maintained trails for cross-country skiers, also has illuminated trails on some of their courses for skiing after dark. With such expanse, it’s necessary to stop and refuel throughout the day. Ylläs has cafes located alongside many ski routes, but when food isn’t enough motivation, there’s also a petting zoo that makes for a memorable stop.
Trapp Family Lodge, Vermont
The Trapp Family Lodge (yes, named after the family from “The Sound of Music”) is the home of the first cross-country skiing trail in the country. The trails were established in 1968 and have since grown to cover more than 37 miles. There’s also 62 miles of backcountry trails for skiers who thrive on pushing their limits. After the trails, partake in apres-ski hours at the von Trapp brewery or bierhall.