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Devil's Thumb Ranch. About 8 miles northwest of Winter Park, Devil's Thumb Ranch grooms about 62 miles of cross-country trails. Some skiing is along fairly level tree-lined trails; some is with more ups and downs and wide-open views. The ranch has rentals, lessons, and backcountry tours. 3530 County Rd. 83, Tabernash, CO, 80478. 970/726–5632. www.devilsthumbranch.com. Trail fee $20.
Snow Mountain Ranch. Twelve miles northwest of Winter Park, Snow Mountain Ranch has a 62-mile track system that includes almost 3 miles of trails lighted for night skiing. The ranch is a YMCA facility (with discounts for members) and has added bonuses such as a sauna and an indoor pool. Lessons, rentals, and on-site lodging are available. 1101 Hwy. 53, Granby, CO, 80446. 970/887–2152 or 888/573–9622. www.ymcarockies.org. Trail fee $15.
Berthoud Pass. South of Winter Park, Berthoud Pass is a hard place to define. At the top of the pass there is a former downhill skiing area—its lifts have been removed—that is popular with some backcountry skiers. There's no regular avalanche control on these former runs. Skiers and snowboarders venturing in must have their own rescue equipment, including beacons, shovels, and probes. Backcountry skiing on the slopes from the former ski area or anywhere else on Berthoud Pass is only for very experienced, well-conditioned, and properly prepared skiers and riders. You must check current avalanche conditions before starting out, although that's no guarantee. In addition to skiing the slopes of the former ski areas, many people pull into parking areas elsewhere alongside the highway over Berthoud Pass and go crosscountry or backcountry skiing. At many spots along the highway you'll see signs warning of avalanche blasting at any time with longe-range weaponry. (This blasting is done to help prevent avalanches from covering the highway.) U.S. 40, Winter Park, CO, 80482. www.berthoudpass.com.
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