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Nordic skiing is a high-reward winter sport that is one of the most accessible ways to explore the mountains in winter and fun for every level of skier at truly any age. We’ve put together a guide to explore the classic Colorado winter landscape of Grand County at the YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch, and discover a new way to enjoy the Rocky Mountain winter wonderland with the whole family.

Nordic Skiing at Snow Mountain Ranch - courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch
Photo courtesy of YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch.

1. Explore the Rocky Mountain Landscape

Snow Mountain Ranch is an ideal Western setting to bring your family for a true Colorado experience. Located near Grand Lake, Winter Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park, YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch sits on more than 5,200 acres of mountain and meadow terrain at 9,000 feet above sea level among some of the state’s most scenic landscapes. Aside from enjoying stunning mountain views, take a trip back in time and explore the roots of the Ranch. Built by Rocky Mountain ranchers Fred and Martha Rowley in 1919, the Rowley Homestead was recently renovated to preserve the barns, cabins and farm equipment left behind, so guests can get a true feel for the Old West.

2. A Sport the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Snow Mountain Ranch has one of the most expansive cross-country skiing systems in the U.S., with more than 120 kilometers of trails for skiers of all abilities. Whether it’s your first time on skis or you’re an elite racer, you can choose between short loops and steep climbs on numerous tracks, so everyone can experience their ideal terrain. New to the sport or want a refresher? Professional instructors are ready to teach anyone the fundamentals. Beginners can work on the classic Nordic skiing technique of “kick-and-glide,” a swinging legs and arms motion. More advanced skiers can work on refining skills or maybe try skate skiing, a more aerobic ice-skating-like version of Nordic skiing.

There’s even a Kids’ Nordic Ski Program in January and February for ages 5—9, introducing kids to the fundamentals of Nordic skiing in an interactive and fun environment. Through games, nature activities and coaching, your kids will be ready for the trails in no time. Is your kiddo too young to be in a program? The Ranch offers child carrier rentals, so you can bring them along for any trail adventure.

Kids Nordic Skiing - Snow Mountain Ranch - courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch - OutThere Colorado
Two kids are loving their day at the Nordic Center at YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch. Photo courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch.

3. Playing in the Snow Without Breaking the Bank

Head over to the Nordic Center’s full-service ski shop, where you can score deals on group lessons, rentals, multi-day passes, and the latest gear and apparel. Take advantage of the Learn to Ski packages, which include equipment rentals, a trail pass and a one-hour group lesson. The package is only $50 for adults and $40 for kids, so you can taste the Nordic life before making any large investments. YMCA of the Rockies members and overnight guests at the Ranch also get a complimentary single-day cross-country skiing, snowshoes or fat bike trail pass for each night they stay.

For those looking to get away for a weekend or extended vacation, Snow Mountain Ranch offers accommodation deals for cabins and vacation homes on site. Check out special packages, including military and member discounts, so the whole family can snuggle up by the fire before another day on the snow.

YMCA memberships are for everyone! Affordable one-year and multi-year family memberships are available. Financial assistance is also available based on need.

4. Family Fun in the Colorado Mountains

Aside from learning how to Nordic ski with the entire family, the Ranch offers numerous other winter experiences, including ice skating, snow tubing, sledding, dog sledding, fat biking, snowshoeing, and more. When you arrive, grab a copy of the Activity Guide for a detailed schedule of happenings around the Ranch. Round out the perfect family vacation with roller skating, wildlife education, an indoor pool, and family campfires. Guests can even bring their canine companions on some trails, so bring your leash and get ready for a true family affair. Refuel and rehash your favorite runs and moments with the whole family at the end of the day at the Skinny Ski Café, over a hot cocoa, warm bowl of soup or a sandwich.

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