Round Trip Distance: 3.4-10+ miles
Difficulty: Moderate - Strenuous
Elevation: 9,592 - 10,390 feet
Cellphone: 1-3 bars
Time: 2+ hrs.
Trailhead: Winter Sports
Attractions: Scenic groomed trail
The Geyser Pass Nordic trail is located in the Geyser Pass Winter Sports Area in the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah. The trail begins at the Winter Sports trailhead where it climbs to Geyser Pass and beyond. During the summer months the trail is simply the Geyser Pass Road. In the winter time once there is sufficient snow the road is groomed to create a Nordic trail that is suitable for both classic and skate style cross country skiing. The trail is also open to snowshoeing, snowmobiling and fat tire mountain biking.
To get to the trailhead from Moab drive south on Highway 191, measuring from Center and Main, for 7.8 miles and turn left onto the Old Airport Road. Follow the signs for the La Sal Mtn. Loop Road for another 12 miles and turn right onto the Geyser Pass Road. Follow the Geyser Pass Road for 5 miles to the trailhead. A 4-wheel drive may be needed as the road is steep in places and should have at least some snow or snowpack.
If you are unfamiliar with the area you might want to study the map at the trailhead. The trailhead map shows the groomed routes. You can also print out a copy of the map at the end of this post or for one with a few more ungroomed places to ski you can get a map on Discover Moab. Be warned that the ungroomed trails are unmarked once you turn off of the main routes. Most of them are open meadows which during a white out can be extremely disorienting. Several of them also have slopes that are greater than 25 degrees and are subject to avalanches.
After leaving the trailhead area the Geyser Pass trail passes the first branch of the Beginners Meadow groomed trail. That trail goes through the trees where it comes out into a meadow that it loops around and then rejoins the Geyser Pass trail about a hundred yards or so up the road.
Geyser Pass has a lot of uphill to it. If you go all the way up to the pass you will pick up 800 feet of elevation in doing so. It makes for a good workout that earns you some great downhill gliding on the return trip. There are a couple of spots that lose elevation that has to be regained so even on the return trip there will be at least one short uphill section.
After the first initial climb the trail levels off a little and comes to a fork. The Nordic route is marked by blue poles and follows the right fork.
At the 1 mile point the Gold Basin trail branches off on the right.
The trail begins climbing a little steeper after passing the Gold Basin junction.
Near the 1.25 mile point the route to Junction Meadow comes up on the right. There are two routes into the meadow that are separated by less than 100 feet. Other than a marker that indicates no snowmobiles there is nothing else to guide you. Be sure that you are comfortable with backcountry skiing before venturing off of the groomed trails.
These pictures were taken the week before Christmas when the sun is near its southernmost point in the sky. Some of the trail never gets any direct sunlight. Those areas can be a little chilly on the downhill run if you tended to perspire a lot going up.
For this post we turned around at the 1.7 mile point where the road crosses a cattleguard. The trail gets much steeper from here on up to the pass and we wanted to save some energy for a few other trails. There is a yurt at the top of Moonlight Meadow near Geyser Pass as well as one in Gold Basin. Both of them can be rented year round. You can check them out on Talking Mountain Yurts.