Why Now is the Best (and Worst) Time for Nordic Skiing

With the huge cold front and storm system that rolled through much of the country in October, many places have already experienced their first significant snow. Yet, the resorts aren’t open, limiting the opportunities for alpine and especially piste-skiing. But for skiers who can’t wait to get out there, gliding over the snow on their skis, Nordic skiing is the way to do it.

If you ask us, we’ll tell you that Nordic skiing is the better option overall, anyway. But since there’s no trade-off with the resorts and ski runs still not ready to go, you can eat your cake today and save the rest to have for later.

If you’re also looking for a sense of solitude, it’s kind of a crapshoot. Certainly, you’ll be able to avoid the tourists. But in the most popular and populous ski towns with plenty of locals also looking for the peace and quiet offered by the backcountry in winter, there’s certainly no guarantee that you won’t see others out on the trails. Nonetheless, it’s likely to be less crowded than the heart of winter and ski season.

It’s also hard to trust the weather and temperatures for much longer than a day trip. You need to be ready to go when the early-season snows arrive because it’s often not around for very long, especially in terms of maintaining a reasonable ski surface. Cross-country backpack skiing should wait for more reliable snow cover across the entire landscape and duration of the trip.

Of course, not all Nordic skiing is backcountry skiing, and if you’re still new to this style of skiing, then you might do better to stay closer to the resorts and civilization in general during your first few runs. Finally, if you’re looking for that sense of solitude but you’re not yet comfortable with your Nordic skills, it’s not a bad idea to go snowshoeing this time of year, while you continue to develop these skills. Have fun and be safe out there!

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