The Ski Mountain
Winter Park is ideal for the advanced skier who isn’t searching for high-priced amenities. Praised for its steep chutes and mogul runs, Winter Park’s three peaks – Winter Park, Mary Jane, and Vasquez Ridge – have some of the most challenging terrain in Colorado. Located 89 miles from Denver International Airport, it’s also one of the most convenient major ski resorts to the Denver metro area.
The Mountain Experience
Winter Park’s laid-back atmosphere and renowned tree skiing attract local ski bums and those searching for powder. Many people who visit the resort are serious skiers that prefer to be on the mountain, rather than in the lodge. Because it’s the most popular resort among Denver locals, it feels more like a community than a tourist destination.
Winter Park Ski Terrain
• Advanced: Mary Jane is known for its bumps and glades and is popular with young-adults and more experienced skiers. Spend your time at Mary Jane’s Parsenn Bowl, but beware as conditions here can become very windy in the late afternoon. With a wide array of ungroomed terrain, Winter Park trails will challenge even the most experienced.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: All three of Winter Park’s peaks offer intermediate trails. Because Vasquez Ridge only has one lift, the peak tends to be less crowded which makes it easy to find areas of untracked powder along the edges of the trails.
• Beginner: There aren’t a ton of beginner runs, but the designated learning area “Discovery Park” features a mellow slope and has its own lift to accommodate those learning to ski. During peak hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., it’s wise to access Winter Park beginner trails via the Olympia Express and High Lonesome Express, lifts that tend to be less congested than those at the base.
• Terrain Park: The resort boasts six terrain parks with over fifty features, such as rails and jumps. Bouncer and Ash Cat are beginner parks. If you consider yourself an experienced park skier, you can visit the Rail Yard, home to the resort’s “superpipe.”
If you’re crunched on time and want to plan a one day or short visit, Winter Park is a best bet. It’s a short distance from Denver, but has a high enough base elevation (9,000 ft.) to provide big mountain skiing. It’s really not the top destination for families, unless you’re all great skiers. If you’re learning, stick to the lower half of Winter Park mountain where the skiing is slower and more cautious. If you arrive before 8:30 am, you can find free parking (a rarity for major ski resorts) only a few yards from the Challenger lift, which delivers you to some of the Mary Jane’s steepest chutes.
The town of Winter Park tends to be a bit quiet come nighttime, so if you want to hang out with friends stay at the resort. A great place to unwind is The Derailer Bar, which features discounts on domestic beer and house liquors during Happy Hour to attract a younger crowd. Most of the restaurants at Winter Park are family-friendly with reasonable prices.
Ski-in/ski-out lodging can be found at the Zephyr Mountain Lodge, located in The Village at Winter Park. If you’re looking to save on costs, the nearby town of Frasier has plenty of motels with basic rooms. There are also condo and town home complexes near the resort with free shuttle services to the base. It’s best to book these places through a private renter. Use the Ski Lodging Deals box above and right to find Winter Park’s best Lodging choices and deals.
Skiing With Kids
The resort makes it easy to ski with kids by providing courtesy wagons to transport their gear from the parking lot to the base. The ski school groups are arranged by age and skill level to allow your kids to improve their skiing without pushing them too far out of their comfort zones. One-on-one instruction and group lessons are offered seven days a week.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost*
Lift Tickets (pre-purchase online): Adult $81-$94; Child $43-$53; Senior $74-$84 (PURCHASE NOW) Season Pass: Adult $389; Child $219; Senior $259 Other Passes: • 4 by 40 = 2 days at Winter Park and 2 days at Steamboat for $199 • Rocky Mountain Season Pass includes Copper Mountain – Adults $439 *prices reflect our best effort to gather from resort published information.
By Amanda Markert