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Steamboat — Cross-country

The Steamboat Ski Touring Center (970-879-8180) at 2000 Clubhouse Drive boasts 15 km. of groomed trails winding along Fish Creek and the surrounding housing developments. The touring center has group and private instruction, rentals, a restaurant and backcountry guided tours. Snowshoeing is available on 10 km. of trails. The Center has a full service cross-country ski rental and retail ski shop, including snowshoe rentals. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Steamboat offers on-mountain snowshoe tours that meet each Monday through Saturday from the top of the Gondola and are guided by the Steamboat Ambassadors. Bring your own shoes or rent from Steamboat Ski Rentals (879-5444). Rentals are also available online from rentskis.com.

Track skiing is available at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs (879-8499) and at Vista Verde (970-879-3858; 800-526-7433), High Meadows Ranch (970-736-8416; 800-457-4453) and The Home Ranch (879-1780). All guest ranches are 18-25 miles from Steamboat Springs. The latter three cater to overnight guests but also welcome day visitors. Vista Verde’s 30-km. system is especially good for beginners—most of the terrain is quite gentle. High Meadows grooms about 12 km. with additional trails groomed as needed. The Home Ranch, which has 40 km. of groomed track, offers cross-country, backcountry and telemarking.

For a real thrill take a tour to Rabbit Ears Pass (guided tours available through Steamboat Touring Center and Ski Haus, 879-0385); you’ll be skiing on the Continental Divide. The marked backcountry ski trails range from 1.7 to 7 miles, from relatively gentle slopes to steep and gnarly. On a clear day you can see forever. Call or visit the U.S. Forest Service (29587 W. US 40 in Steamboat Springs, 970-879-1722) to get current ski conditions and safety tips. Other popular backcountry areas are Buffalo Pass, Pearl Lake State Park, Stagecoach State Recreation Area and Steamboat Lake State Park.

Photo courtesy Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.