Enjoying winter in Utah has a lot to do with finding fun ways to recreate. For some, taking advantage of the world class down hill skiing in the state is the way to go, but for others looking for a little more of a workout, or avoiding crowds and chair lifts, learning to cross-country ski is a great way to enjoy Utah winters.
While several ski resorts like Snowbasin and Sundance offer a nordic or cross-country ski track, free cross-country ski tracks can be found all over Utah's mountains. A great place for beginners to practice cross-country skiing is the Granite Flats campground up American Fork Canyon.
In the summer Granite Flats is a large and busy campground, but when winter hits, the campground is closed and the winding roads of the multiple loops in this campground become wide and gentle paths to ski. Not only is the skiing great for beginners, but views of neighboring peaks and the alpine environment make for a beautiful morning or afternoon ski.
Granite Flats campground is located up American Fork Canyon in Utah Country. Simply take State Road 92 up the canyon and then take a left at the fork to Tibble Fork Reservoir. A couple of miles down this road will take you to a large parking area at Tibble Fork Resevoir.
The parking lot can get congested with snowmobilers and sledders on the weekend, but once you find a parking spot and head North either up the sledding hill or by taking the road that heads north at the top of the parking lot, you'll leave the crowds behind. The Granite Flats area is closed to snowmobiling, so once in the campground you'll find a sometimes groomed track and probably only a few fellow cross-country skiers.
Two of my favorite things about cross-country skiing at Granite Flats is the relative solitude compared to other cross country skiing trails and the ability to explore for as long or short as you'd like. You can ski just one loop, all of the loops or a few favorites to customize your outing. Many of the loops are surrounded by large pines creating a beautiful and isolated alpine feel.
While there is no charge to cross country ski at Granite Flats, there is a fee to enter American Fork Canyon. You can pay at the booth at the mouth of the canyon, utilize a fee tube at Tibble Fork, or, if you have a National Parks pass your admission to American Fork Canyon is included.
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