Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

Nordic Trailside Sleeps

Check out these huts, inns, and hotels for Nordic skiers in California and Montana.


Bear Valley Lodge
P.O. Box 5440, Bear Valley, CA 95223; (209) 753-2327. Rustic elegance, with suites, cushy lounge with huge fireplace, gourmet restaurant, and just beyond the door, 65 km of groomed trails here on Ebbetts Pass (Hwy. 4). Rentals, lessons for all levels. Also on Hwy. 4, a few miles west, is Tamarack Pines Inn, 18326 Hwy. 4, Bear Valley, CA 95223; (209) 753-2895 or (800) 753-2895, a family-friendly B&B with skiing in the Stanislaus National Forest.

Camp Richardson Resort
1900 Jameson Beach Rd., P.O. Box 9028, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158; (530) 541-1801 or (800) 544-1801; Historic hotel or rustic cabins on the quieter shores of South Lake Tahoe; more than 19 miles groomed trails. Rentals, lessons. Moonlight tours.

Clair Tappaan Lodge
Box 36, Norden, CA 95724; (530) 426-3632. Lodging is in 16 cubicles outfitted with bunk beds, plus 10 family rooms (five to 12 beds each). From Thanksgiving to Easter, cost per individual per night is $52, which includes all meals and use of all facilities. There are discounts for Sierra Club members.

High Country Inn
Hwy. 49 at Gold Lake Rd., HCR2, Box 7, Sierra City, CA 96125; (530) 862-1530 or (800) 862-1530. Inn is in Bassetts, 5 miles east of Sierra City. Enjoy winter scenery from comfortable guest rooms; gourmet breakfasts. Ski the Yuba Pass country.

Kirkwood Cross Country
P.O. Box 1, Kirkwood, CA 95646; (209) 258-6000. Some 50 miles of cross-country trails at this big alpine ski resort with full facilities; lessons, rentals for all levels.

Loon Lake Chalet
Northeast of Placerville in the Eldorado National Forest Pacific Ranger District, is remote but less primitive than Robbs Hut, with hot water and electricity. Call or write above phone/address for important information on Loon Lake. For Loon Lake reservations call (877) 444-6777 or visit

Montecito Sequoia Nordic Resort
Spacious, old lodge 65 miles east of Fresno on Route 180, in Sequoia National Forest, adjacent to Sequoia National Park. 53 miles of trails for all skill levels, with access to challenging backcountry terrain in national park. Sledding and tubing hills. Warming shelter, rentals, and lessons for all levels. Accommodations include three home-cooked meals. Detached cabins, accommodating two to eight persons also available. Outdoor hot tub. Rooms $105-$195 per person per night. 2225 Grant Rd., Suite 1, Los Altos, CA 94024. (800) 227-9900, reservations; (800) 843-8677, lodge;

P.O. Box 129, Truckee, CA 96160-0129; (800) 466-6784. Some 65 km of groomed cross-country trails are adjacent to the downhill ski area of this major resort near Tahoe's busy north shore. Lessons, rentals.

Ostrander Hut
This remote and very rustic cabin was built of oak and stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941. Two cross country trails lead to Ostrander and both require intermediate skiing skills. The hut supplies 25 bunks, a kitchen with a gas stove and a few pots and pans, and a potbellied stove. You bring the rest (that includes food, a warm sleeping bag, water filter, headlamps, and more – check out for ideas). Ostrander is open from December to April. The 25 bunks are awarded on a lottery basis, and you must apply before November 13. Call the Yosemite Association for details (209) 372-0740 or write to Ostrander Reservations, P.O. Box 545, Yosemite, CA 95389. Phone reservations are accepted on or after December 1.

Rainbow Lodge
At the end of Royal Gorge's strenuous Rainbow Interconnect ski trail. The lodge is on the Emigrant Trail and was built from hand-hewn timbers and local granite in the 1920s. It has a spacious common area and small, wood-walled rooms, some of which share bathrooms. A French restaurant at the lodge serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mid-week skier specials include breakfast, trail pass at Royal Gorge and lessons. $110-$245 per person per night. On Pahatsi Road in Soda Springs, 1 mi. from I-80. 9411 Hillside Dr., P.O. Box 1100, Soda Springs, Ca 95728. (800) 500-3871 or (530) 426-3871.

Robbs Hut
Eldorado National Forest, Information Center, 100 Forni Rd., Placerville, CA 95667; (530) 644-6048. This fire lookout restored to very rustic bunkhouse, 20 miles northeast of Placerville, is a basic shelter for avid backcountry skiers—must reserve. Call (877) 444-6777 or visit

Rock Creek Lodge
Rte. 1, HCR 79 Box 12, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546; (760) 935-4170 or (877) 935-4170. Guests ski a few miles (or are met by a snowmobile shuttle) to reach these very rustic, remote cabins, with hearty dining in a lodge tucked deep into a scenic Eastern Sierra canyon; high-country skiing in Inyo National Forest; rentals, lessons.

Sorensen's Resort
Opened in 1926 by a Danish immigrant, Sorensen's is at 7000' elevation in the Hope Valley near the junction of highways 88 and 89, about 15 miles south of Lake Tahoe. The resort offers accommodations in cabins, vacation homes, and a bed & breakfast. Nightly rates range from $95-$395. Sorensen's offers cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and tubing. Full moon and Snowshoe Thompson tours are also available. Cabins are “housekeeping cabins” with minimal maid service. Strict cancellation policies; check these in advance. 14255 Hwy. 88, Hope Valley, CA 96120. (800) 423-9949 or (530) 694-2203.

Tamarack Lodge & Resort
P.O. Box 69, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546; (800) 237-6879 or (760) 934-2442. A 1924 lodge with romance, comfort, and highly acclaimed cuisine at its Lakefront Restaurant; cozy cabins, also; 30 scenic miles of track and skate lanes in Inyo National Forest. Lessons, rentals.

Tioga Pass resort
P.O. Box 7, Lee Vining, CA 93541; (209) 372-4471. Guests must ski from 1 to 6 miles, depending on snowline, up beautiful Tioga Pass (Hwy. 120, which is closed in winter) to these charming, electrically heated log cabins in Inyo National Forest; homey lodge food. Ski spectacular back-country of Yosemite National Park, just 2 miles west of resort.

Yellowstone's Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins
Getting into Yellowstone National Park in the winter is an adventure in itself. The road from the north entrance, through Mammoth Hot Springs and on to the northeast entrance and Cooke City, Mont., is open to automobiles in the winter. Accessing the rest of the park's interior requires over-snow vehicles. Xanterra provides snowcoach transportation and snowmobile rentals at Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful. Xanterra also provides snowcoach service from the west entrance at West Yellowstone and the south entrance at Flagg Ranch. Winter activities in Yellowstone range from snowcoach and wildlife tours, guided ski tours, to miles of trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Also available: ice skating, guided snow mobile tours, and hot tubs.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
is named after the steaming limestone terraces above the hotel area. In winter, the hotel is the only accommodation accessible by automobile. Be prepared for an escape from the outside world: there are no televisions, radios, or Internet connections. The hotel is open from December 23, 2004 through March 6, 2005. Some rooms have shared bathrooms. $73-$291 per person. P.O. Box 165, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. (307) 344-7901 or (307) 344-7311.

Old Faithful Inn
was built in the 1920's with massive logs and stone pillars. The lobby and food service area, with cafeteria, and bakery, offer tremendous views of the Old Faithful Geyser. There are also basic cabins nearby. Some do not have bathrooms. Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins is open from December 18, 3004 through March 13, 2005. Room rates from $80-$156 per person. Day trips to Old Faithful, ski and snowshoe trails around Old Faithful, snow mobile tours. P.O. Box 165, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. (307) 344-7901 or (307) 344-7311.

This article was first published in January 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.