Our quest is a family vacation where we get out in nature to enjoy winter. So many families recoil at the thought of getting out in the cold. The trick to make winter fun is to pick the right activity and the right location. This year we hit the jackpot on both--cross country skiing in Montana.
Unless you're visiting Momtrends for the first time, you know we're bananas about skiing. We've had the kids doing downhill since they were 2 years old and traveled all over the country looking for the best family fun to be had on the slopes (visit the Ultimate Family Ski Guide to see the results of our efforts).
Maybe speed isn't your thing and bustling resorts aren't for you. There's still an option for fun on skis--cross country. Also called Nordic skiing, this sport is a wonderful option for families to embrace the outdoors with a little less gear and a little less instruction.
Unlike downhill, you can be up and running on Nordic skis in about 45 minutes. Mr.Momtrneds and I had first lessons at Bohart Ranch in Montana back in 2003--that first knowledge has been all we needed to enjoy years of cross country fun. Now that the girls are 9 and 7, we decided to let them join in on our recent ski trip to Big Sky Resort.
To facilitate the family excursion, we spent a night at the Lone Mountain Ranch in Montana. The ranch is busiest during the summer, when it's packed with folks fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking. In the winter, it's a mecca for the magic that happens on skinny skis.
Cross country skiing is all about working up a sweat and enjoying the views. Much like running, it's a steady workout where you can find the space and time to hear yourself think.
Eight Reasons You'll Love Cross Country Skiing
1. Enjoying peace and solitude
2. No lift lines
3. The gear is quite comfortable
4. You're hard pressed to find an ugly cross country trail
5. Injuries are far less frequent than downhill
6. Fabulous aerobic exercise
8. Liberatingly low-tech
I'm not going to lie, There were plenty of falls--as evidence from the above photo. But they are hilarious falls--not ones that induce tears.
Lone Mountain Ranch got us set up with skis and a lesson (and a super-cute log cabin). Bonnie helped match us with great Fischer skis and boots at the well-appointed rental shop. Then we trekked out to the trails. In minutes we were zipped into boots, clicked into bindings and on our way.
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Bonnie gave us the basics of getting going, turning and stopping. The well-marked trails were easy to navigate--after the initial lesson we were off and running (er, skiing). No one complained about being cold, or equipment hurting. Try that the first time you take a kid on downhill skis! Plus, a day (or even half day) of Nordic skiing is a relative bargain!
- Adult Ski Pass $20 (Kids 12 & under free)
- Lessons $70 for an hour
- First Timer Package $65 includes: rental, lift pass and lesson
Lone Mountain Ranch has more than 85 Km of groomed trails for cross country. It's not surprising that LMR was voted the #1 Nordic ski resort in North America. But wait there's more...
If you get tired of skiing you can also take out the snowshoes! And please, don't miss the sleigh ride dinner. A horse-drawn sleigh (we had Larry and Curly two gorgeous draft horses) pull us along a star-lit trail to dinner. The communal dining room was a cozy log cabin outfitted with a huge cast iron stove circa 1870. The chef cooked prime rib, potato leek soup, broccolini and a fabulous chocolate cake for dessert. TIP: make reservations for this early in your trip planning. It sells out!
We stayed in the Larkspur cabin and had a roomy two bedroom lodge with no TV or phone (amen) but yes on WiFi. All the cabins are along the ski trails. We were steps away from the 1Km Kids loop and a babbling stream.
Lone Mountain Ranch is just a few miles away from Big Sky Resort. We highly recommend adding this activity and resort to your Montana vacation plan. For more on Big Sky click here for the Momtrends Ski Report and here for the Off-Mountain Guide to activities.
This is not a sponsored post. We paid for our own lodging. The lessons and rentals were comped so we could write about the experience.