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Royal Gorge, California. (Photo by David Madison for Royal Gorge)

Royal Gorge, the country's largest cross-country ski resort, was in dire condition this past winter. The resort, atop Donner Summit, was closed on many days, many trails were not opened and there was little trail grooming. The resort owners defaulted on a loan, and the lender took over the property this past summer.

Last month, three conservation groups agreed in principle to buy the sprawling resort for $11 million and signed an operating agreement with the adjoining Sugar Bowl ski resort under which Sugar Bowl will lease and operate Royal Gorge. The three organizations are the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership. All parties expect the purchase to be finalized Dec. 20.

Anne Chadwick of the Land Trust was quoted in the Sierra Sun as saying that $8 million of the purchase price has been raised.

"Royal Gorge has incredible potential, and we're excited about the opportunity to return such an iconic resort to its once and former glory," Sugar Bowl CEO Rob Kautz said.

Sugar Bowl plans to immediately invest $500,000 in Royal Gorge to upgrade and improve the resort for this season. The resort includes the Summit Station main lodge and eight warming huts that dot the expansive trail system.

"It is clear to us that grooming is critical to our success," said John Monson, director of sales and marketing at Sugar Bowl. "We will have the 6,000 acres of trails at Royal Gorge open seven days a week and will groom the 200 kilometers of trails."


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There is a connecting trail between Sugar Bowl and Royal Gorge. Monson said three new trails will be added to make it easier for Sugar Bowl guests to access the connecting trail.