Two couples—Reid and Kirsten Sabin, and Meagan and Tom Healy—thought the hard part would be locating a spot for the first Nordic-only ski center in Whitefish, Mont.
After all, their dream of a family-friendly, straight-out-of-a-snow-globe cross-country ski area called for the perfect mix of scenery, wildlife, terrain, and access.
But they found it, eight miles from town, and then their real work began: rebuilding a structure for three-unit Stillwater Mountain Lodge, cutting miles of trails, putting up a warming hut and rental center, and becoming fanatics about grooming. it's all paid off. "We've created a monster," says Reid Sabin, who's twice won telemarking's World Cup.
Trails are ideal for classic and skate skiers and, in areas not set aside as elk range, even for dogs. Snowshoers and others who prefer tracks less traveled have the adjacent Stillwater State Forest virtually to themselves. Passes are $12 for adults, $10 for children. Lodging from $85 a night. (888) 205-7786, www.stillwatermtnlodge.com .
Photography by Chuck Haney 
This article was first published in January 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.