If you want to experience the beauty of winter while your best friend wags and bounds by your side, cross-country skiing (also called Nordic skiing) might be the “pawfect” sport for you. From the Rocky Mountains to the Catskills, we’ve gathered seven of the best dog-friendly cross-country skiing destinations in North America. These Nordic ski trails offer epic views that will entice both novice and advanced skiers. So pack Fido's winter coat and get ready for a snowy adventure with your cold-loving canine!
Tails on Trails: 7 Dream Destinations to Cross-Country Ski with Your Dog
Posted by Jessica Roberts
1. Breckenridge, CO
Unlike downhill (or alpine) skiing, cross-country skiing gives you and your pup the opportunity to explore at your own pace. The charming ski town of Breckenridge offers two- and four-legged cross-country aficionados a dramatic backdrop for their adventures. One of our favorite pet-friendly small towns to visit, it's located just 90 minutes west of Denver in the shadow of the mighty Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range. The “pupular” Breckenridge Nordic Center welcomes canines for no extra charge on the 1.2-kilometer Nordic World trail. For additional fun, check out the Gold Run Nordic Center, where the intermediate Peabody Placer and the slightly more difficult Preston Loop both allow tails on the trails. If you really want to get your sled dog a good winter workout, you can also take a skijoring basics clinic here.
Once you’re both tuckered out, take a ride on the Breckenridge "BreckConnect" Gondola and appreciate the view from the air. Finally, snuggle up at the Residence Inn by Marriott Breckenridge, just 5 miles from the Gold Run Nordic Center.
2. Sun Valley, ID
Magnificent central Idaho scenery awaits you and your pooch in the idyllic resort town of Sun Valley. The first destination ski resort in the U.S., frequent Sun Valley skiers include Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Clint Eastwood and the town’s previous resident, Bruce Willis. It’s easy to understand the draw. The aptly named area is known for cloudless skies and abundant sunshine. The surrounding mountains are distinctive and largely treeless, providing expansive vistas in every direction during your cross-country trek. Pups adventuring on BCRD Galena Trails require their own passes: a doggy day pass is $5 and season passes are $49. Both are available at most area ski shops.
Stay at the pet-friendly Tamarack Lodge in the adjacent town of Ketchem, where pets are welcomed with a comfortable bed to rest on after their Nordic fun.
3. Bozeman, MT
Known for clean, fresh air, a relaxed environment and a plethora of outdoor activities, Bozeman is a dog-loving city full of small-town charm. Cross-country skiers on two legs and four will find plenty of opportunities to appreciate the beauty of Montana on both groomed and unmarked trails in and around the quaint mountain town. Right in the heart of downtown Bozeman is Lindley Park Dog Ski Loop, a 1-km groomed loop created specifically for cross-country skiing with your off-leash dog. Pups are also permitted at Hyalite Canyon, a popular cross-country skiing area that includes a series of loops near the reservoir (11 miles up the road), and Bozeman Creek, a multi-use trail on Forest Service land about 7 miles south of town.
Stay at the pet-friendly Western Heritage Inn and you’ll be just a one-block walk from Lindley Park Dog Ski Loop.
4. Methow Valley, WA
At the westernmost edge of the country, situated on the North Cascades Scenic Byway, the glacial Methow Valley is the place to visit for a scenic and peaceful cross-country ski experience. In the heart of the valley, the small town of Winthrop boasts access to the largest cross-country ski area in North America. You and your pup can enjoy miles of off-leash Nordic ski trails at Methow Valley Sports Trails.
Dog trail passes are required for many of Methow Valley's trails and are $10 for the day or $50 for the season. No passes are needed to ski the dog-friendly Lunachick and Big Valley trails. The pet-friendly Mt Gardner Inn is a quiet and convenient place to rest after an active day with your good boy.
5. The White Mountains, NH
Family-run Bear Notch Ski Touring Center has over 65 kilometers of spectacular trails, and the entire system is open to pups! As you ski with your snowdog, enjoy riverside views, picturesque waterfalls, sweeping wide meadows and challenging hill climbs. The unique and well-marked trails give you and Fido the opportunity to experience the magical atmosphere of the White Mountains, whether you’re seeking an easy and peaceful route or a more difficult climb. After you’ve taken your fill of the natural surroundings, stop by the “Warming Hut” for some soup, fresh-baked bread and hot chocolate.
Stay warm and cozy after your skiing adventures in a pet-friendly cottage at The Bartlett Inn, just a 15-minute walk from the Bear Notch Ski Touring Center.
6. Lake Sakakawea, ND
Unlike the epic views afforded to Nordic explorers in the mountains, cross-country enthusiasts and their pups will have a very different type of experience skiing in North Dakota. Ski and frolic together along the shoreline at Lake Sakakawea State Park, the third-largest manmade reservoir in the nation. Or, take your gear and your gung-ho hound and head to Cross Ranch State Park, where you can explore for 14 miles along the Missouri River. Snowshoers, hikers and pets must stay off the groomed portions of the state park’s ski trails but can blaze their own path through the undisturbed snow. Just be wary of North Dakota’s infamously strong winds.
The Americinn Lodge and Suites Beulah is just a short drive from both state parks, keeping you and your canine close to the action.
7. Aspen, CO
The Aspen/Snowmass Nordic Trail System is one of the largest free-groomed cross-country ski systems in North America. With six dog-friendly trails connecting the ski villages of Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt, you and Fido will have no shortage of paths to explore. The trails offer terrains ranging from beginner-level jaunts up to advanced runs for experienced canine-human duos. Scale the scenic Mt. Daly at nearly 14,000 feet at its peak for some of the best vistas imaginable.
After shaking the snow off your boots, cozy up at Molly Gibson Lodge. Dog treats, bowls and beds are provided, along with gorgeous views of the mountains.
Have you tried cross-country skiing with your dog? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!
Banner photo by Methow Trails.