Cross-Country in Montana’s Yellowstone Country
Considering the length of season, quality of snow, diversity of terrain, wildlife viewing, world-class track and trail systems, full-service destination facilities and incomparable winter experience of cross-country skiing in Yellowstone National Park, Montana’s Yellowstone Country is truly the cross-country skiing nexus of North America. With one of the longest seasons in the country—from November into April—and some of the most consistent and finest quality snow, year after year, this is home to the biggest and best cross-country skiing there is. West Yellowstone offers access to groomed trails and Yellowstone National Park along the Boundary and Riverside Ski trails. The Rendezvous Ski Trail, situated adjacent to the Continental Divide, and at an elevation of just over 6800 feet, is the crown jewel in Yellowstone Country’s rich array of cross-country venues. Gold medal grooming and reliably early snowfall—as well as consistent late-season snow—mean that conditions are never far from perfect over the 35 kilometers of rolling, impeccably groomed trails that pass through groves of lodgepole pines and across wide mountain meadows on U.S. Forest Service land that lies in close proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Highlights of the Rendezvous Ski Trail season are the first tracks Yellowstone Ski Festival, over Thanksgiving, which includes workshops and seminars, and the Yellowstone Rendezvous Race and U.S. Biathlon Championships, which occur in early March. Part of the American Ski Marathon Series—which is the longest-running and largest citizen’s racing and touring series in North America—the Yellowstone Rendezvous Race attracts nearly 1000 participants, across six different age and ability categories, and is a celebration of not only the figurative end of Winter, but a reunion of newcomers and veteran racers to Rendezvous, alike. West Yellowstone is also a designated training and competitive venue for NORAM (North America Biathlon) and Junior Olympic Qualifiers.
But the cross-country ski experience in Montana’s Yellowstone Country doesn’t end there. The region is also home to Lone Mountain Ranch, the number one-ranked Nordic Ski Resort in North America, and Bohart Ranch, Bozeman’s own cross-country ski epicenter, situated in the beautiful Bridger Mountains. Both ranches offer multiple special events, pristine cross-country trails and the rugged beauty of the Montana wilderness at every turn. Lone Mountain Ranch offers a high-end vacation experience, with plenty of snow—over 400 inches annually—and 100 kilometers of some of the finest cross-country skiing in the nation. It’s also only 6 miles down the road from the “Biggest Skiing in America,” at Big Sky Resort, providing family opportunities for both cross-country and downhill skiing. Bozeman’s Bohart Ranch sits adjacent to Bridger Bowl ski area and offers cross-country ski instruction, equipment rental, community events and races and even boasts a Biathlon course with year-round training and competition. Bohart Ranch routinely hosts national level events, including five NCAA Cross-Country Ski Championships—the sixth of which is slated for March of 2012—and hosted the 2002 National Olympic Qualifier. The ranch also caters to families, with its Kiddy Kilometer Trail, a signed interpretative trail. In addition to the great cross-country ski-specific destinations throughout Yellowstone Country, there’s the granddaddy of all cross-country ski experiences, Yellowstone National Park. Over-snow tours and cross-country skiing in America’s first national park enable visits to areas otherwise inaccessible by any other means. These examples of specific cross-country ski destinations, coupled with literally thousands of casual opportunities and locations to enjoy the sport, along with snowy, extended winters are what make America’s Winter Playground the cross-country ski capitol of North America.
See VisitYellowstoneCountry.com/iExplore for more information.