Why we love it: The trails are impeccably groomed and never crowded.
When to go: Anytime there is snow and a bluebird sky.
Colorado is chock-full of gorgeous vistas, but one of my all-time favorites is the view of the Yampa Valley after you’ve crossed Rabbit Ears Pass on U.S. 40 on your way to Steamboat Springs. At dusk, during the winter, everything takes on a pinkish, otherworldly hue that brings to mind every scenery cliché I’ve heard. Too often, though, Coloradans drive past the quietest areas of the Valley in search of slopes and Main Street. Flatlanders—or Nordic skiers—should stop and appreciate the gently rolling landscape at the Lake Catamount Touring Center.
The course is situated on a private golf course development, meaning that you won’t find rugged terrain. Instead, Nordic skiers should flock here for the ample racing-style flats.
But they don’t. Every time that I’ve skied at Catamount, I’ve had the trail blissfully to myself. I don’t know what scares people away. (It is too flat? Too boring? Too open?) I don’t really care, because it means that I have more room to focus on perfecting my technique—and time to gape at the surrounding valley. The view is as gorgeous here as it is from the road.
Getting there: Take I-70 west to exit 205 (Silverthorne) and head north on CO-9. Turn left onto U.S. 40 and continue towards Steamboat Springs. Go over Rabbit Ears Pass and into the Yampa Valley. Before town, turn left on to Highway 131. Travel 4.5 miles before turning left onto RCR 18. After 1.2 miles you’ll see parking for the Nordic Center on your left.