Favorite Utah Nordic Centers
Utah has all the makings of the perfect ski destination: the singular climate and topography of the central Wasatch Range yields some of the best powder anywhere, while Olympic-level resorts and facilities make the rugged terrain accessible—without taming it in the least. The capital and first stop for any visitors flying in is, of course, Salt Lake City. Conveniently positioned in the heart of the mountains, at the crossroads of all the major highways, Salt Lake is the ideal base camp for a trip into the mountains. However you plan your Utah getaway, be sure to put the following cross country ski areas on the itinerary. Though they range from the subtle to the celebrity-owned, they all have one thing in common: they specialize in getting skiers of every age and ability out into the unparalleled wintertime world of the Utah backcountry.
Just ten minutes outside of downtown Salt Lake City, this small cross country center is a picturesque example of what makes Utah such a unique ski destination. Its ten kilometers of looping trails ranges dramatically from salt-flat flat beginner areas to heart-pounding climbs and drops—all groomed daily for both skate and classic. As the trails are situated in the Parley’s Canyon watershed, they are strictly skier-only (meaning no canine companions). This not only keeps the gorgeous terrain pristine, it ensures the trails are always in top shape. Be sure to cross Parley’s creek and follow the Creek Trail for a taste of Salt Lake’s wild, mountainous backyard!
Just south of the Swiss-styled mountain village of Midway, in a crook of the Wasatch Range, sits a legendary hub of Nordic skiing. In 2002, Soldier Hollow played host to all of the Winter Olympics’ cross country ski events. Today, that same world-class infrastructure—including almost 30 kilometers of trails, a biathlon range and a stunning central lodge—is well cared for and open to the public all year round. The ski terrain offers exciting and accessible adventure and workouts for every skill level, while the Nordic Center organizes a wide range of activities to introduce guests to some of the best Nordic skiing and biathloning around. A state-of-the-art snowmaking setup ensures that even in the most lackluster winter weather, a visit will be worth your while.
Image: Gene Sweeney Jr.
When a ski area is situated in the thick of the Wasatch Mountains, within spitting distance of one of the most stunning glacial peaks in the lower-48, and was owned and operated by Robert Redford for over 50 years, it stands out in a special way. Sundance Nordic Center, the cross country ski arm of the Sundance Mountain Resort, lives up to its history. Its 15 kilometers of trails crisscross through the towering firs and up into the foothills of the breathtaking Mount Timpanagos and are groomed nightly for both skate and classic skiing. The Center offers a full menu of clinics, tours and lessons for all ages and abilities. No matter where you find yourself along the trail network, the stunning views of the white-topped Wasatch’s on a blue-bird day will define “Sundance” for you far better than words ever could.
Spread across three locations in downtown Park City, White Pine Touring is a rare gem in the Nordic world: it boasts both a fully equipped ski and winter apparel shop, and a full Nordic Center, with over 20 kilometers of trails meticulously groomed for both skate and classic skiing. The trails are arranged into three, five and ten kilometer loops, all combining gentle hills with sweeping pastures and views of an historic Utah farm. As for the ski shop, they don’t just carry cross country gear: they’ve got everything from backcountry setups to avalanche gear to camp stoves! If you’re new to skiing or snowshoeing, be sure to ask about a lesson or a guided tour into the nearby Uinta Mountains—and even if you’re an old pro, there’s nothing like having a local to show you the best spots!
Headquartered up in the North Utah city of Logan, this nonprofit ski organization has found a way to keep awesome Nordic skiing accessible and affordable. Each week in the winter months, the team of Nordic United volunteer groomers work their way along three separate trail networks, encompassing both canyon and mountain terrain. As a bonus, the organization provides maps and access info to a whole additional list of groomed and ungroomed ski terrain for Logan locals and visitors looking for an adventure, plus general tips and tricks for skiing in the area. Most of the Nordic United trails can be accessed on a by-donation basis, although certain state-managed terrain requires a $5 day pass.