Winter Park's ski area is impressive. It was developed (and is still owned) by the nearby city of Denver for the recreation of its citizens, who pour in on weekends and powder days. When Intrawest (developer of resorts such as Whistler) got involved a few years ago, there was talk of a similarly impressive 'destination' resort at the lift base, too. The base village has certainly expanded and improved, but it's still very small and quiet; there's a bit more going on, though not much, in the small town of Winter Park, a bus ride from the hill. Winter Park's policy of grooming hardly any black runs, ever, means the step up from blue to black runs is a big one. We think the policy is a mistake. Winter Park started life in the 19th century, when the Rio Grande railway was built; workers climbed the slopes to ski down. One of its mountains, Mary Jane, is named after a legendary 'lady of pleasure' who is said to have received the land as payment for her favours. The resort (at 2745m) is one of the highest to get a chapter in this book (only Breckenridge is higher) and there is some risk of altitude sickness if you go straight there from the UK - though we survived doing exactly that in 2015. The approach road from Denver over the Continental Divide at Berthoud Pass is spectacularly high (3450m) and Alpine in character, with very un-American hairpin bends. Driving over in the dark is not something to be done lightly if there is any sign of bad weather. Having a car permits day trips to resorts such as Copper Mountain, Keystone and Breckenridge (see separate chapters).
Pros

The best snowfall record of Colorado's major resorts

Quiet on weekdays

Leading resort for teaching people with disabilities to ski and ride

Largely free of ski-resort glitz

Cons

Nearly all steep slopes are never groomed, so always mogulled

Village' at the lift base is still very limited, and dead in the evening

Town is a bus ride away and has few shops and restaurants

Some tough terrain is prone to closure by bad weather

Getting there

  • Denver airport: 1.5 hours
  • Denver train station: 2.5 hours

Good For

Ability
  • Advanced
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
In Resort
  • Family Friendly
  • Ski To Door
On Slope
  • Boarder
  • Fast Lifts
  • No Queues
  • Snow Reliability
  • Terrain Parks

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