For anyone looking to get “out there” this winter season, backcountry newbies or experienced veterans can plan an overnight on Tennessee Pass, located near Leadville at the base of Ski Cooper. The easy-to-access area features a Nordic center, cookhouse and sleep yurts available for a semi-adventurous and completely comfortable escape.

With 19 miles of groomed trails, the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center overlooks the Sawatch Mountains, and offers cross-country skis, snowshoes and fat bikes for rent. After you get your cardio fix, head to the coffee bar—which also serves soups, sandwiches, beer and wine—and spread out on the deck on sun-drenched afternoons or snuggle in by the wood stove on cold days.

If you’re planning to stay the night, the sleep yurts are located 1.3 miles from the Nordic center, and rent for $225 a night for up to six guests (with three beds in each). Full linens and down comforters are provided, so there’s no need to bring a sleeping bag.

Owners Ty and Roxanne Hall welcome anyone to come up and play here—whether or not they have any Nordic, backcountry or even wilderness experience.


“It’s a really good stepping stone for people who have not done any backcountry stuff but want to see what it’s all about,” Ty says. “We get people who show up with roller suitcases who just came from the airport, and we can completely take care of them.”

Those looking for full service cozy lunch or elegant evening can head a mile from the Nordic center or a third of a mile from the yurts to the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse. A menu of Colorado cuisine includes appetizers such wild boar sausage, and entrees like elk tenderloin, rack of lamb and rainbow trout.

Those who have gear and wilderness know-how will also feel right at home to do their own thing. Ty says many people come and stay who are pretty much self-supported.

“They will show up with their own food, their own drinks, their own ski equipment, their own everything,” he says. “We just check them in and they are gone. They go out on full moon skis, they go out on the trails and do all these great things, and then we see them a couple days later.”

It’s on! The winter season for the sleep yurts, cookhouse and Nordic center runs seven days a week through mid-April.

—Kim Fuller