Ski pass offers trail variety

Cross-country skiers can tour Yampa Valley with one pass

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Nordic skiers in the Yampa Valley will be able to purchase one ski pass this winter that will allow them to enjoy groomed cross-country skiing at each of five different touring centers.

All of the touring centers are either in Steamboat Springs or less than an hour away.

The establishment of the Valley Pass is a project that was undertaken by the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council. It is a not-for-profit organization that is working to create a broader base for Nordic skiing locally.

"The Valley Pass is the result of a lot of hard work, creative thought and cooperation among the five participating touring centers," Nordic Council President Dan Smilkstein said.

Skiers would be able to purchase three levels of passes at varying price levels, Smilkstein added. During the inaugural season there will not be any family passes offered. However, that is a possibility for next season.

When the passes go on sale at the touring centers Nov. 1, skiers will be able to purchase a "green star" pass for $225. It will offer access to the trails at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Steamboat Ski Touring Center, Steamboat Lake State Park and Howelsen Hill.

The "red star" pass, offered for $315, adds the trails at Lake Catamount to the list.

The Nordic Ambassador Pass, at $495, will provide $190 to help fund the Nordic Council's efforts to develop trails, maintain a Web site and market Nordic skiing in the region.

Skiers who have already purchased a season pass at the Steamboat Touring Center will receive a credit toward the purchase of a Valley Pass. In addition, Smilkstein said, purchasers of Valley Passes will receive an annual Colorado State Parks Pass valued at $55.

Cross-country skiing at Howelsen is free and open to the public, with or without a pass. However, Smilkstein said Valley Pass purchases would help to defray the cost of grooming the trails.

Jeff Nelson, who manages the city's ski area and is a member of the council, said the cost of grooming Howelsen last year was close to $10,000 although the city's cost was between $6,000 and $8,000. The North Routt Snow Club funds the grooming of 100 miles of combined snowmobile/Nordic trails that encompass the Steamboat Lake area.

Smilkstein said that after skiers pay for a Valley Pass at one of the touring centers they will be directed to the ticket office at the Steamboat Ski Area where they will be provided with a photo ID bearing the Nordic Council logo.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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