Have a Royally good time
Even rank beginners who’ve never been on skis before can learn how to cross country ski at Royal Gorge. And have fun doing it.
But first, a disclaimer: This isn’t an ad for the cross country ski resort written in exchange for free ski passes.
My girlfriends’ friends had never gone cross country skiing before. So they picked Royal Gorge and we paid $20 each for a Sunday afternoon of skiing.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can say with all journalistic objectivity the resort, located on Donner Summit west of Donner Lake, is pretty nice.
It’s also sort of famous. Royal Gorge is the largest cross country ski resort in the all of North America, with 204 miles of groomed ski trails on some 10,000 acres, mostly Tahoe National Forest land.
The resort’s fancy features include 10 warming huts, four trailside cafes, a day lodge, a couple inns, a rental shop and a ski school. Checking their Web site, I see it costs $17.50 a day to rent skis; $22 for high-performance skis.
Aside from stopping at a warming hut, we didn’t do any of that. The novices in our group rented some skis down in Sacramento, and my girlfriend and I wore our thrift-store skis.
We showed up at the part the part of the resort near Lake Van Norden where they allow dogs. A daily ski pass there costs $25 or $20 after 1 p.m.
It was so quiet, you could understand people’s conversations from a quarter-mile away.
The trails we took were almost completely flat with just a couple small hills, the biggest one at the end. You’ve got a choice at Royal Gorge between trails with a wide range of difficulty.
You’ll see a lot of people “skate skiing” at Royal Gorge, which looks like fun. Using short, light skis they move down the wide groomed with a skating motion, instead of keeping their skis parallel in the traditional way.
To get there: Royal Gorge is right off Interstate 80 in Soda Springs (west of Donner Lake). Take the Soda Springs/Norden exit off I-80 and follow the signs to Summit Station.
It’s 3/4 of a mile off the highway.
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