Winter Park ski resort
About Winter Park
Winter Park ski resort has something for everyone, with great skiing, shopping, dining and a laid-back atmosphere, all of which has contributed to its long-standing reputation as the resort of choice for Colorado residents.
This cordial charm has come under threat in recent years however, when, in common with many other ski areas in North America, the resort underwent an expensive makeover with new lifts on the mountain and a new resort village at the base. The redesign was the brainchild of Intrawest, the company originally behind Whistler Blackcomb and half a dozen other North American ventures.
Despite the heavy spending, the resort has managed to maintain its enticing ‘ski town’ feel. The new base area, named The Village, has smartly avoided playing on the region’s cowboy heritage; instead visitors will feel a sense of gradual evolution rather than a touristic imitation of a bygone era.
The nearby towns of Winter Park and Fraser – both accessible via a free shuttle – were once home to the majority of lodging, shopping and nightlife, which gave the resort a somewhat dispersed feel. However, the new slopeside base at Winter Park has changed this, creating a lively après-ski scene and helping the resort become a more complete package.
Winter Park Resort is the closest major ski resort to Denver, which is a 90-minute drive away to the southeast, in Colorado. The resort is nestled within the Vasquez Mountains, which form part of the Arapaho National Forest.
On the slopes
Winter Park has plenty of terrain for all levels of skier, with four main ski areas: Winter Park, Mary Jane, Vasquez Ridge and Parsenn Bowl. There is also a fifth, smaller area, Vasquez Cirque, which is suited to advanced skiers.
There are an unusually high percentage of runs rated ‘most difficult’ for advanced skiers in Winter Park. In fact, there are more than 60 black trails; many of which are found on Mary Jane Mountain and the recently added Vasquez Cirque off-piste zone, home to the long moguled run, Outhouse.
Groswold’s Discovery Park is a huge area at the base of Winter Park’s slopes. Beginners can learn here without having the distraction of more experienced skiers slaloming past. The Mary Jane area is another haven for beginners looking to put their newly-found knowledge into practice.
Intermediates have most of the area to enjoy, including the popular Parsenn Bowl and fast, long runs such as Mary Jane Trail. Many blues also lead from the Mary Jane and Winter Park ski area.
There are six terrain parks plus a superpipe for freestylers and snowboarders of all ability levels. Among these is Rail Park, which is home to the superpipe and a range of other features such as rails, jibs and boxes.
Snow reliability is good in Winter Park and there is snowmaking on a large percentage of the runs. As a consequence, the ski season is relatively long, running from late November to mid-April.