Search Articles: Home About Us Our Community Contact Us Article Submission   Advertising Info  
 
Auto Savvy

Business and Finance

Creative Cooks

Family and Parenting

Health and Nutrition

Legal Information

Beauty and Fashion

Sports and Fitness

Women Of The Month

Home and Garden

Relationships

Motivation and Inspiration

Travel and Adventure

Technology Today

Society

Silent Sports of Nordic Skiing & Snowshoeing Enjoy Loud Presence in Colorado
by Beth Buehler

The Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley, located in southwest Colorado, is emerging as a Nordic skiing and snowshoeing hotspot. Groomed Nordic trails now number more than 95K, backcountry routes are plentiful, and a full calendar of events, tours and races offer opportunities to have fun and stay in shape.

Thereapostrophes no shortage of things to do. Check out the Calendar of Events:

Dec. 20 - Citizens’ Race – 15K Skiathlon
Jan. 1- Learn to Skate Ski for Free! Clinic
Jan. 10 - Citizens’ Race – 20K Classic
Jan. 10 - Full Moon “Dessert at the Yurt” Ski & Snowshoe Tour
Jan. 10 - Moonlight Snowshoe Tour
Jan. 17 - Citizens’ Race – 20K Skate
Jan. 24 - Kenny Mac Ski Fest, Hartman Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area
Jan 31 - 23rd Annual Alley Loop (1.5 K, 3K, 5K, 10K, 21K, 42K)
Feb. 5 - Learn to Skate Ski for Free! Clinic
Feb. 9 - Moonlight Snowshoe Tour
Feb. 9 - Full Moon “Dessert at the Yurt” Ski & Snowshoe Tour
Feb. 14- The 50K Classic
March 5 -Learn to Skate Ski for Free! Clinic
March 7 -Super Tour (22.5K backcountry ski event)
March 10: - Full Moon “Dessert at the Yurt” Ski & Snowshoe Tour
March 21 - Progressive Bonfire Dinner on skis or snowshoes

CRESTED BUTTE NORDIC CENTER
The Crested Butte Nordic Center is a full-service cross-country ski center providing lessons and complete rental packages for skate and classical skiing, as well as ice skating, snowshoeing and sledding. The Nordic Center maintains more than 50 kilometers of groomed trails that meander around the outskirts Crested Butte and offers tours, races, events and ski programs (e.g., Master Skiers, Gray Hares and Junior Nordic Team).

Located in the heart of town at Second Street and Whiterock, the Nordic Center will open for the season from Nov. 22, 2008 – April 5, 2009, and is connected to Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski area and various stops in Crested Butte by a free shuttle bus. For more information, call (970) 349-1707 or visit www.cbnordic.org.

Learn to Skate Ski for Free! clinics are offered by the Nordic Center at 1 p.m. on Dec. 4, Jan. 1, Feb. 5 and March 5. Reduced-priced ski rentals are available.

Citizens’ Races are held for locals and visitors on Dec. 6, 13, 20 and Jan. 10, 17. The race length and style changes each week. Participants must register at the Nordic Center by 9:30 am on race day. The cost is $12 for adults, $5 for ages 8 – 17, and free for ages 7 and under.

Full Moon “Dessert at the Yurt” Ski & Snowshoe Tours feature a moonlit guided tour to Magic Meadows, warm drinks and delectable desserts in a yurt along the way on Dec. 12, Jan. 10, Feb. 9 and March 10. The tours begin at 7 p.m. and cost $25 per person. Reduced-priced ski and snowshoe rentals are available.

23rd Annual Alley Loop Nordic Marathon on Jan. 31 not only is the highest-altitude Nordic marathon in the United States; it reflects the athletic and free-spirited nature of Crested Butte. This American Birkebeiner qualifying race starts and finishes on Elk Avenue and winds its way through alleyways, streets and the trail system located on the outskirts of town. Also a Colorado Cup Series Race, the Alley Loop features course lengths of 1.5K, 3K, 5K, 10K, 21K and 42K allowing all skill levels and ages to participate. The races begin at 9:30 a.m., with many people wearing costumes. Registration costs vary based on race length.

Super Tour is a 22.5K backcountry ski event slated for March 7. It’s a race for those who like to go fast, or it can be skied as a loosely-guided tour for those looking for a more relaxing pace. The tour starts at 8 a.m. at the Gothic Road trailhead in Mt. Crested Butte, with registration and equipment check from 6:30 – 7:30 a.m. The route circumnavigates Gothic Mountain, but is a challenging ski with a steep 2,000-foot climb and a sometimes fast downhill. Shovels, probes, beacons and full skins are required. COSAR cards also are required and are sold at the Nordic Center. Registration cost for the tour is $35.

Progressive Bonfire Dinner is a 4K journey on Nordic skis or snowshoes that takes participants along a luminaria-lit path for a four-star, four-course, four-fire meal that benefits the Gunnison/Crested Butte Junior Nordic Ski Team. The camaraderie of sitting around crackling fires and dining on good food and warm drinks along the way makes this event on March 21 one for the memory books. Seatings begin at 5 p.m. and run until 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $35 for adults and $15 for children under age 12.

Backcountry Tours are for those who want to adventure off the groomed trails for a half or full day on snowshoes or Nordic skis. There is a two-person minimum, with all tours including transportation, rentals and a guide. Full-day tours start at 9 a.m. and include lunch, and half-day tours start at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The cost is $50 per person for a half day and $80 per person for a full day.

CRESTED BUTTE MOUNTAIN RESORT
In addition to premiere alpine skiing and snowboarding, Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers daily snowshoe tours with a guide at 9:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Snowshoes, poles, water, a light snack and a lift ride are included in the cost for the two-mile outing, which is primarily flat or downhill. During Moonlight Snowshoe Tours on Dec. 12, Jan. 10 or Feb. 9, enjoy the thrill of riding in a snowcat to the top of the Red Lady Express Lift and snowshoe the moonlit mountain trails back to the base area. For costs and more information, call (970) 349-2252 or visit www.skicb.com. Reservations are required.

GUNNISON NORDIC TRAILS & EVENTS
There also is outstanding Nordic skiing and snowshoeing along backcountry routes and groomed trails at Hartman Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area west of Gunnison, which offers a desert-like setting that is very unique for Nordic skiing. This combined with VanTuyl Ranch, the Western State College practice field on campus and Jorgensen Park encompasses approximately 45K of trails groomed by the Gunnison Nordic Club.

The Gunnison Nordic club will offer clinics, races and the Kenny Mac Ski Fest. The festival is scheduled for Jan. 24 and will include a fun-filled day of ski racing, touring/skiing for all ages and a bonfire at Hartman Rocks. A schedule of clinics and races will be available soon. For more information, visit www.gunnisonnordic.net.

GUIDES & BACKCOUNTRY HUTS
Oftentimes, it is helpful to hit the backcountry with guides who know the area like the back of their hands. In addition to the backcountry tours offered by the Crested Butte Nordic Center, Crested Butte Mountain Guides, www.crestedbutteguides.com take visitors on Nordic skiing and snowshoeing adventures.

Exploring the backcountry and staying in huts along the way is the ideal way to go on longer tours. The Nordic Center books reservations for Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory’s Forest Queen Hut, located in the historic mining town of Gothic. Other backcountry hut options are the Elkton Cabins, call (970) 349-1815, and the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association’s Friends Hut, visit www.huts.org.

VISITOR INFORMATION & PERSONALIZED VACATION PACKAGES
To find out more about Gunnison County or to book personalized vacation packages, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association’s toll-free line, (800) 814-8893, or visit www.GunnisonCrestedButte.com. The Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport is served year-round by United Airlines with flights from Denver and during the winter season by American Airlines with direct flights from Dallas/Fort Worth and C