12 Top Cross Country Skiing Destinations

With big crowds, big lifts, and big slopes, there's a sexiness to skiing (that is, if you're doing it right and not hurtling into the person in front of you going 20 mph). It's undoubtedly fun to hit those high speeds and cruise down a mountain like a roller coaster off its tracks. But its less glamorous sibling, cross-country skiing, otherwise known as Nordic skiing, has its own merits. 

Although you're still getting a workout like traditional skiing, cross-country skiing is a particularly strenuous workout, as skiers don't have gravity on their side. While strenuous, it can be a "peace in nature" type of activity, as the skier rhythmically glides through the snow. If you're ready to give cross-country skiing a try and enjoy the beauty of the wintertime without a mob of fellow skiers, check out these top 12 cross-country skiing destinations around the world. 

Crested Butte Nordic - Crested Butte, Colorado

They don't call Crested Butte Nordic the "Nordic Ski Capital of Colorado" for nothing. Crested Butte Nordic is run by a nonprofit organization that manages 31 miles of cross-country skiing trails throughout Crested Butte. Visitors can access the trails here from various spots in Crested Butte, creating a seamless experience.  

Whether you're looking for lessons, tours, or upscale eats in a yurt, Crested Butte Nordic offers a wide variety of options. And, cross-country skiers of every level can find a trail for them through the organization. On the West Side Trails that surround Peanut Lake Road, skiers can choose from green, blue, and black trails. The same is true for the East Side Trails, which are between the mountain and the town.

To cruise Crested Butte Nordic trails, you don't have to go broke, either. A day pass to hit the trails is just $25, or you can opt for a $300 season pass. If you want to make a vacation out of your trip, the Old Town Inn is a cozy hotel with amenities like locally roasted coffee and freshly baked cookies at $130 per night. To get the best powdery snow for skiing, time your visit for January or February. Or, as a note, not only is Crested Butte one of the best spots to cross-country ski in the country, but it's also one of the U.S. cities most likely to see snow on Christmas.

Banff National Park - Calgary, Canada

With a season that lasts from mid-November through April, you can ski for nearly as many weeks as you can't in Banff National Park — making it one of the longest ski seasons on the continent. According to travelers, Banff is also one of the 14 underrated winter getaways around the world. If you're looking to visit at prime time, go in February when the snow has the best conditions for cross-country skiing. 

Once you're here, you can choose from tons of trails ideal for cross-country skiers of all levels, such as the five-mile Tunnel Mountain Trails. With minimal hills and conveniently located near hotels, the trail is perfect for beginners. For intermediate skiers, the Cascade Valley is one the most well-traveled in the park and also includes a few light slopes, while the Spray River West Trail offers great views of Fairmont Banff Springs. To get access to the trails, all visitors have to do is purchase an $11 National Park Pass.

Cross-country skiers can make the most of their trip to Banff National Park by staying overnight at one of the area's many hotels. One of the options is the Rimrock Resort, an upscale spot that couldn't be closer to many of the park's attractions. Visitors can choose from one of the resort's 333 rooms ranging from around $300 per night for a classic room to around $2,500 for a king suite with its own balcony and firepit.

The Summit at Snoqualmie - Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

The Summit at Snoqualmie may be just an hour away from big-city Seattle, but with its nearly 2,000 skiable acres of snow that's perfect for incredible winter outdoor adventures spread across four areas of the mountain, it feels a world away. Through the Central Cascade Mountains of the resort are nearly 44 miles of trails for cross-country skiers, which costs $36 to traverse for the day or $180 for the season. And no matter if you're a seasoned cross-country skier or giving the trails a go for the first time, you can find the right trail at the Summit at Snoqualmie. 

For beginners, the recommended trails are the Cold Creek Trail before the Hidden Valley turnoff, the 12.4-mile John Wayne Trail, and the 1.2-mile trail that rounds the lodge. Some of the trails that more seasoned cross-country skiers can choose from include White Rabbit, Windy Acres, Vista, Snow Train, Creek Run, and the Mount Catherine Loop.

If you want to stay overnight at The Summit at Snoqualmie — which is best visited at the end of December for optimal snow — travelers can choose everything from the two-star Summit Inn from $189 per night, which is just two minutes from the resort, to the luxe Salish Lodge & Spa, which is about 30 minutes from the resort.

Mt. Bachelor - Bend, Oregon

If you'd rather hit the slopes on Memorial Day Weekend than the beach, you can at Mt. Bachelor, which has the longest cross-country skiing season on the continent. The season runs from the end of November through early June, although the best months for the most snow are January and February. Depending on when you visit, you'll have access to nearly 35 miles of trails.

While Mt. Bachelor has a mix of easier and harder trails, only 5% of trails are for beginners, so this might be a destination more suitable for experienced cross-country skiers. Visitors can access these trails for $30 per day or $445 per season. While out on the trails, skiers can stop by the Nordic Café to eat health-conscious fare, shop for cross-country skiing gear, or warm up at the wood stove.

If you're planning on staying for a few days on the slopes, Tetherow is a lodge-styled resort that's 20 minutes from the mountain. For those looking to explore both the town and the mountain, the Oxford Hotel is a boutique-style hotel in downtown Bend that offers upscale services like custom pillows with stays starting at around $229 per night.

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort - Nozawaonsen, Japan

Operating for over 70 years, Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is as colossal as it is storied. The resort offers three distinct areas with 31 miles of trails, ranging from beginner to expert runs that are open between mid-December through early May. To access the trails, skiers can purchase a pass for only about $3, granting them usage of trails, including the one used in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics and official courses of the Ski Association of Japan.

One of the trails — which is also perfect for newbie cross-country skiers – is the Minamihara Cross Country Course. Or, for a more private experience, ski the Uenotaira Cross Country Course, which is at an altitude of 4,265 feet. To get here, you just need to drive about an hour from Nagano. Visitors can book overnight stays at several nearby properties, such as the Lodge Nagano Nozawa Onsen for just $40 per night or the three-bedroom Nozawa House for nearly $500 per night.

Trapp Family Lodge - Stowe, Vermont

Nobody knows cross-country skiing in the States quite like the Trapp Family Lodge. The Austrian-inspired resort is home to everything from a brewery to a rock-climbing wall, and it was also America's first-ever destination for cross-country skiing — and still the biggest in Stowe, Vermont, a town commonly considered the best vacation spot in the state. With 40 miles of trails ideal for everyone from novice cross-country skiers to those who've been doing it for decades, it's the spot to go for cross-country skiing.

To access Trapp Family Lodge's trails, visitors can buy a season pass for $285 or a day pass for $31 to $34. Skiers can also check out 25 miles of backcountry trails on the property, which are spread over 2,500 acres. You'll be able to access the cross-country skiing trails from December to March, but it varies on the snow conditions.

Unlike many other cross-country skiing destinations on this list, Trapp Family Lodge offers rooms onsite, so you'll barely need to walk out your front door to be on your way to the trails. Guests can stay in one of the main property's 96 rooms for around $400 per night during the ski season, or opt for a higher-end experience at one of the resort's villas or chalets with separate bedrooms, living areas, and kitchens for varying prices.

American Birkebeiner Trail - Hayward, Wisconsin

If you traverse the American Birkebeiner Trail — which is known as the Birkie – you'll be skiing the same trails as the best cross-country skiers in the world. The Birkie is where some of the most elite cross-country skiing events on the planet take place, such as the Kortelopet Classic, which is the second-biggest ski event on the continent, and the 53K Birkie marathon. But non-professional skiers can give cross-country skiing a go on the Birkie's over 60 miles of trails, too. Some of those trails include the Skate Trail and Classic Trail, which also has paths ideal for beginner cross-country skiers. 

To access the trails from December through March 31, visitors can purchase a daily pass for $10, a season pass for $50, or an all-access pass for $100, which also gives visitors access to the Tormondsen Family Snowmaking Trail. But no matter which pass you choose, these prices still make for some of the most affordable days of quality cross-country skiing in the world. 

Despite the low prices, the Birkie offers similar amenities to other popular cross-country skiing destinations, like warming cabins that are scattered throughout the property, snow-making on days when a little more powder is needed, and trail grooming to keep all of the trails in pristine condition for the next skier. It's all maintained by the nonprofit organization American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, which also accepts donations to keep the Birkie usable for all skiers.

Ylläs Ski Resort - Ylläsjärvi, Finland

With its winter wonderland feel, Finland is a haven for cross-country skiers. But there's perhaps no better — and definitely no bigger — place to do it than Ylläs Ski Resort, an uber-popular spot for skiing in Finland. Cross-country skiers can choose from more than 186 miles of groomed trails that are accessible to skiers of all experience levels. But at Ylläs Ski Resort, the benefits of cross-country skiing extend beyond the trails. 

Skiers can cruise between two Lapland villages – and even visit both on the same day — and also ski beneath the polar night sky under a full moon. Cross-country skiing at the resort begins in October, and as the weeks go on, more of the trails open until they're all open by mid-February before the season ends on May 1. The best time to visit may be in April. The days are longer and sunnier and all of the trails are open. Prices start at about $33 for a three-hour session.

Plus, you can stay overnight at Ylläs Ski Resort, so you can quickly get out of the cold after skiing, which means a lot since the temperature in January doesn't usually get higher than 19 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors can choose from a wide array of accommodations, varying from a rustic log cabin to a high-end hotel room, with prices generally ranging from $53 to $480 per night.

Bretton Woods Ski Area - Carroll, New Hampshire

You don't have to worry about not having enough snow to cross-country ski atop the Bretton Woods Ski Area, which was frequently voted as having the best snow in the East by SKI Magazine. And even if it isn't snowy on the day of your visit, Bretton Woods can make it so with their snow machines that operate on more than 90% of the property's trails on the White Mountains. Cross-country skiers can choose from 62 miles of trails, which are nearly evenly split between beginner, intermediate, and expert runs. Skiers can visit anytime between mid-November to mid-March with daily passes for $25  or season passes for $169. 

And here, you're not just in for a day out on the snow — you're also in for a day enjoying the best that nature has to offer. The property's trails pass everything from spruce and fir trees to beautiful mountain streams. Bretton Woods Ski Area also has plenty of nearby lodging options to get cozy quickly after a day of cross-country skiing. The historic Omni Mount Washington Hotel is perfect for those looking for an upscale experience.

Gstaad, Switzerland

Swiss village Gstaad is just as pretty as it is perfect for cross-country skiing. Here, cross-country skiers of every experience level can cruise 14 trails across the Bernese Oberland Alps in a quaint, Instagram-worthy locale that doesn't even allow cars. The 109 miles of trails sit 3280 to 4,600 feet in the air. Known as one of the best spots on the planet to cross-country ski, Gstaad offers trails in every kind of environment, including one that extends across the frozen Lake Lauenen and another that is illuminated at night for a serene, one-of-a-kind experience.

While on the trails, you'll also see plenty of restaurants and bars that you can stop at to catch your breath and warm up. To get access to all of the trails in the village, visitors can buy a pass starting at about $11 for one day. You can use your pass during the season from October through May, although the best time is March since that's when the area usually gets the most snow. If you want to stay overnight in Gstaad, there are plenty of options, such as Gstaaderhof, an alpine-inspired hotel with costs starting at around $320 per night.

Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa - Tabernash, Colorado

The Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa is an acclaimed cross-country skiing destination and resort. In fact, it was named the best cross-country ski resort in North America by USA Today readers from 2018 to 2022. Just 75 miles from Denver, visitors can choose from nearly 75 miles of trails on the Continental Divide during the cross-country skiing season, which lasts from mid-December through mid-April. 

If you're staying at the hotel, skiing tickets for the day are just $25 , or you can grab a season pass for $300. Trails range from easy to difficult, and you can always be assured that you'll be skiing on trails ready for action, as they're groomed every morning.

Visitors can also book rustic-inspired rooms at the lodge, ranging from upscale guestrooms to private cabins, starting at $404 per night. Plus, since the resort also has a hot tub and pool that's heated all year, a yoga studio, and firepits, guests can find plenty of ways to decompress after their day out on the slopes.

Finnmark, Norway

If you're up for a true wilderness experience while on cross-country skis, Finnmark — a Norwegian plateau that can be skied atop from November through April — is the place to do it, whether you're an accomplished or novice cross-country skier. It's even been called one of the most scenic spots for cross-country skiing by Forbes

Through the tour company Turgleder, skiers can opt for a nine-day or 17-day guided tour of the plateau, with the nine-day tour in April more suitable for beginners due to the sunny days and shorter distances. On each day of the nine-day trip, which costs nearly $2400 per person, skiers can expect to ski about nine miles, which actually isn't too far for cross-country skiers. Conversely, the 17-day trip that costs nearly $3,700 per person takes place in chilly and dark February and is best for those who can handle -40 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures at night and cover longer distances.

On either trek, cross-country skiers will spot much more than groomed trails and fellow skiers typical of a normal ski resort. Instead, across the plateau, skiers might see reindeer and historic mountain cabins reflecting traditional Norwegian culture. If you go on the 17-day trek in February, you'll also likely see the northern lights at night.