Affordable, world class, and enough snow to rival the biggest of snowglobes, Winter Park in Colorado is the ultimate skier dream. Forget the glitzy (and typically expensive) resorts like Aspen, it’s all about this stunning hideaway.
Last time I checked, Winter Park had the best snowfall record of all Colorado’s major resorts. I’m talking thick and fluffy snow, where the flakes are so big you can see the intricate glistening patterns when they fall in your hair.
Despite the snowfall being immense and as the pros would say, the powder being brilliantly epic, Winter Park is surprisingly quiet (especially on weekdays).
Most times it was just the two of us careering down the slopes, trying to avoid the steep mountainous edges. Good job! I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate a slope with innocent people risking an injury due to my inability to ski very well.
I loved the intimacy of the skiing experience at Winter Park. Queues were few and far between, as were the tourists.
Most skiers tended to be the locals from Denver (a one hour and thirty minute drive). I can see why; there’s a great collection of terrains to suit all abilities. The ski area is huuuuge, even by US standards. Interestingly, it is the leading resort for teaching people with disabilities to ski.
There are seven territories, including five unique sectors:
♥ Mary Jane (11,200ft): This is where the big boys play. It’s covered in tough black runs; steep, narrow and edged by rocks.
♥ Vasquez Cirque: You won’t find me here, as this area is full of extreme runs geared at experts.
♥ Vasquez Ridge (10,700ft): If you’re looking for black runs, then this is your new home. However, there are also some blue ones.
♥ Parsenn Bowl (12,060ft): Intermediate runs with great views are the feature of this sector, including blue/black gladed runs.
♥ Winter Park (10,700ft): A happy mixture of runs, including littler ones for newbies like me. This place deserves five stars for its 25 acre dedicated area for beginners (known as Discovery Park).
There is a small ‘village’ at the base of the main ski lift in Winter Park, with typical wooden lodge restaurants serving hot chocolates and warming food, as well as an equipment rental lodge . There’s even a Starbucks for caffeine fixes.
You’ll be able to find roaring fires at the popular Lodge at Sunspot. If you’d rather escape (though I’m not sure why you would want to), you can hop on board the shuttle bus to the nearby town. There are a few more restaurants to choose from, and even a small roadside Subway if you’re pinching pennies. If you’re after fine dining though, you’ll need to drive for at least thirteen kilometres (to Devil’s Thumb Ranch).
If you’re looking for a party scene you won’t find it at Winter Park. This is what I loved about the resort. It didn’t feel too commercialised or fake. It is simply a place the locals visit. Don’t get me wrong, you can enjoy a good beer, pizza and a game of pool, but it’s not a clubbing kinda hangout. I recommend a good Belgian beer at The Cheeky Monk, or a rest at Derailer Bar. Personally, I loved the small town charm of Winter Park.
What made me fall in love with this place even more was the fact that my room at Winter Park Mountain Lodge cost next to nothing (£60 per night on a deal) and was massive. Although it was outdated, you could have fit at least three double beds in there. The highlight though was the floor to ceiling views of the mountainside. Absolutely gorgeous.
Most accommodation is scattered either side of US highway 40, the road that leads through Winter Park. It ranges from chalets with hot tubs, to apartments and hotels.
From Denver, I would highly recommend a car transfer with Home James Shuttle Service. Greyhound operate a bus service, but timings are restrictive. You could of course hire a car, but I wouldn’t fancy negotiating the snowy lanes. There used to be a ski train service, but it stopped some years ago. However, you could try Amtrak.
Winter Park in Colorado is such an outstanding ski resort and you really must visit if you ever get the chance. I happened to be in Denver anyway as my husband was playing a gig and so we took advantage of the ‘241’ opportunity. However, I’d happily go again. The ski passes, equipment rental and well, pretty much everything (save the flights) were really cheap in comparison to other resorts.
Have you been skiing before? Perhaps, you’ve visited Winter Park – what did you think about it? Do let me know if you’re going to visit and if you have any questions. I’m happy to help. X