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Sugar Bowl Adds Royal Gorge's Winter Playground

Royal Gorge

Sugar Bowl, the oldest lift-served ski resort in California and a traditional weekend getaway destination for San Francisco's upper crust, has just added a new wrinkle for the coming snow season.

The Donner Pass-area winter playground, which first opened for business in 1939, recently agreed to operate neighboring Royal Gorge, the nation's largest cross-country ski resort with about 6,000 skiable acres and 200 kilometers of marked trails.

Sugar Bowl plans to put about $500,000 into the Nordic ski center this season; the investment means two new grooming machines, renovations to the Summit Station lodge, new trail signage and an updated Web site. Cross-country skiing newbies can also expect two beginner-friendly trails installed between the two resorts, which are separated by Van Norden Meadows.

"Royal Gorge has incredible potential," Sugar Bowl CEO Rob Kautz said. "We're excited about the opportunity to return ... (the) resort to ... its former glory. (Royal Gorge) is a perfect complement to ... Sugar Bowl."

There's no word yet on when the refurbished Royal Gorge will make its 2012-13 season debut, but with the incredible early-season snowfall this week, it can't be too far off.