Alpine skiing and snowboarding may be the ‘It’ winter sports right now, but we’ll happily forego bragging rights for a long weekend that really challenges us physically. That’s why we urge snow lovers to take another look at Nordic, or cross-country, skiing. As it happens, I recently visited Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado, on the very weekend that the movers and shakers from SnowSports Industries America (SIA) were there to road- (or trail-) test the latest gear.

According to the SIA, Nordic skiing can torch up to 750 calories an hour. And, and I can attest, it’s a helluva workout. Yet it feels more like play at Devil’s Thumb, where the 80-plus miles of trails are impeccably groomed and span a range of skill levels, the rental gear and instructors are top-flight, the views are astounding, and the après offerings range from serious massage and expertly taught yoga classes to a deservedly popular happy hour featuring live music, $3 wine, and dollar microbrews.

And it isn’t all about winter. When the snow melts, Devil’s Thumb changes gears and guests can use those ski trails for hiking or mountain biking; there’s also a Western-style equestrian program and rafting and kayaking on the Colorado River.

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