Cross country skiing & snowshoeing are two of my favorite activities to do here in Colorado throughout the winter. There are SO MANY trails to check out! Great trails exist in the San Juan Mountains around Ouray & Telluride, in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park, White River National Forest, around Gunnison & Crested Butte, Black Canyon National Park, & so many other areas. Colorado has over 39,000 miles of trails!
If you’ve never country country skied or been snowshoeing, here’s a few tips. And if you’d like to participate in these winter activities but don’t have the equipment, snowshoes and cross country skis can be found for very reasonable prices on the Facebook marketplace & certain used sports shops & thrift stores. Many outfitters rent out equipment, & some places let you borrow stuff for free, such as the Black Canyon visitor’s center.
Cross country skiing & snowshoeing gets you to quiet, sometimes untouched surroundings
Dress in layers. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. You are probably going to need those layers. A combination of the sun & the work it takes will make you very warm, even hot. Especially if the snow is deep or you’re going uphill. But weather changes suddenly in the mountains. Temperatures drop, winds pick up, snow can blow, & that nice day can turn into a cold snow storm.
Be prepared. If I’m going out for any length of time more than just a mile or two, I always bring a small pack of things. Make sure the pack you bring is a proper hiking pack, it should rest the weight on your hips, not your shoulders. If you want something smaller, there are some packs that sit just on the waist so they don’t hurt your shoulders. If you’re a photographer that likes to adventure, you definitely need to check out Atlas Packs! Thank me later.
You are also going to want to bring water. Staying hydrated helps in the higher altitudes & will help you stay warm. Drink water even if you’re not thirsty. You’re also going to want to bring food. Skiing & snowshoeing is a lot of work & you’ll get hungry. Bring snacks higher in fat & protein. Your body can utilize fat & protein faster than it can use carbs, they’ll give you better energy. A few other things I bring include extra clothes, first aid kit, & a whistle (which is a cool part of my Atlas camera pack!). You might also want to look into taking a free class from REI on avalanche awareness.
Stretch & practice your technique. Cross country skiing & snowshoeing are both great workouts. You not only work out your legs a lot, but you’ll also use your arms a lot with your poles. Going uphill your going to use your whole body– calves, thighs, hips, core, chest, shoulders, & arms. Especially with skiing. Be sure to do some stretches before & after to reduce soreness. If you’re newer to cross country skiing or snowshoeing, practice beforehand in a flat, open area. Then practice going up & down slopes. And make sure you talk to park rangers or locals to find trails that suit your skill level.