Winter Park Resort is Colorado’s longest continually operating ski resort, and also one of most varied, offering seven unique sections within the large 3,081-acre ski area, just 67 miles northwest of Denver.
Winter Park Resort caters to both experts who want to ski where the US Freestyle Mogul Team has trained for 15 years, as well as beginners looking for fewer bumps and thrills.
With more than 320 inches of annual snowfall, quick access to Denver International Airport, and the world-class Mary Jane mogul run, which many claim to be the best mogul skiing in North America, it’s a surprise to some that Winter Park remains the less glittery, more down-to-earth neighbor of Vail. Visitors definitely come here to ski, not to party – another reason why Winter Park Resort is tagged as more family-friendly.
The enclosed, 25-acre Discovery Park where many youngsters have their first chance to experience both tree and open bowl skiing is a great asset, as well as the resort’s renowned Ski and Ride School for both kids and adults. Discounted lift tickets are also offered with the purchase of a lesson.
There are numerous ski and snowboard rental shops both in the town of Winter Park and at the resort itself, and several have online booking options available. The resort’s rental shop offers a free equipment rental for one child with each pre-booked, 3-day adult rental. Winter Park is an Ikon Pass destination.
There are seven tube and sledding operations in the Winter Park area, including Devil’s Thumb Ranch, which also has ice skating on the weekends. Winter Park Resort does not have night skiing, but if you’re determined, Granby Ranch– 20 miles west – has night skiing on weekends from 5 to 8 p.m.
While February is typically the best month for consistent snow in Colorado, some note that March and early April have had excellent conditions – with the added bonus of blue skies and warmer weather. 313 acres of snow-making across 27 trails allows Winter Park to bank on opening by Thanksgiving each year and remain open until May.
Winter Park has accommodation for most budgets, from basic rooms to more luxurious stays. For ski-in/ski-out access, Zephyr Mountain Lodge is just 110 feet from the Zephyr Express Chair Lift, with fully-equipped condos ranging from one to three bedroom units ( www.zephyrlodge.com ). The Vintage Hotel has 114 rooms, studios and suites at the entrance to the resort, with kitchenettes and fireplaces in most of the accommodation ( www.the-vintage.hotels-colorado.com ). The Alpenglo Lodge also has comfortable accommodation and ski storage in each room, located in the town center of Winter Park ( www.wplodging.com ).
While there are a few dining options on the mountain, the most variety is found in Winter Park itself. If you are fresh from the slopes, Doc’s Roadhouse is a great place to go for craft beers and family-friendly tavern food, located near the Zephyr chairlift. A gondola ride up the mountain takes you to the Sunspot Lodge’s dining room where guests can enjoy surf and turf with stunning views over the ski area. In the Winter Park Resort village, Vertical offers locally sourced cuisine like seared duck breast, Colorado lamb chops or wild mushroom ravioli with an extensive wine list as well as signature cocktails ( www.winterparkresort.com/dining ).
Denver International Airport is the nearest airport to Winter Park, with flights coming in from most major U.S. cities. Winter Park is a two hour drive from Denver. The Home James van service offers regular transport from the Denver International Airport ( www.homejamestransportation.com ). Once in Winter Park, there is a free community shuttle to take guests to and from the Winter Park Resort, as well as a taxi service.
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