Colorado Ski Trip Part 3: Winter Park

Winter Park ResortTaking in the scenery at Winter Park

(This is part three of a 3 part series by our editor on a recent trip to Colorado and his review of the different resorts he visited including: Copper Mountain, Steamboat Springs, and Winter Park.)

After our second day of skiing at Steamboat, we took the 2 hour drive east to Winter Park. This drive is pretty straightforward. Take route 40 and go east. Both Steamboat and Winter Park are on the same road. The drive was similar to our drive to Steamboat. We had fabulous views of the mountains in the distance and got to see various wildlife along the way. Once you get to Winter Park, you have numerous choices of where to stay. The main town is Fraser and it has plenty of different stores, hotels, and restaurants.

As you drive to Winter Park, you will see parking available to the north side as you are coming to the mountain from Fraser. Many people were parking here and I assumed it was a good place to park. But, I found this area a little far to walk and found that the better place is on the other side near the Vintage lot. From here, you can hop onto the Village Cabriolet that will take you to the end of The Village. The Village is small, but it has everything you need or want. There are also a number of lodges in the village should you be looking for some ski on/off skiing.

The mountain consists of 143 trails on 3,081 acres and is divided into 7 territories: Parsenn Bowl, Winter Park Territory, Vasquez Ridge, Terrain Park, Eagle Wind, The Cirque, and Mary Jane. Most of our time was spent on Parsenn Bowl and Mary Jane. If you go to Winter Park, you have to go to the top which is Parsenn Bowl with an elevation of 12,060 feet. The Panoramic Express is North America’s highest six-passenger chairlift and will take you near the peak. Once you get to the top of the lift, if you want to get to the peak, you will need to take a short hike up. If you do so, you’ll be glad you did. You have a 360 degree view of the area with some gorgeous views.

Winter Park ResortView from top of Parsenn Bowl

When you are ready to ski down from Parsenn Bowl, you have numerous options that can be done skiers and riders of abilities. If you stick to the Panoramic Express lift, you’ll get numerous intermediate and advanced-intermediate runs where you can run through the glades found throughout the area. Once you get tired of the area, you can ski to any other territory on the mountain through the various connector trails on the mountain.

Winter Park ResortHeading out to the infamous Mary Jane

The Mary Jane territory is centrally located on the mountain. Six different lifts run up Mary Jane and although Mary Jane is known for its steeps and bumps, there are trails for every ability. If you are choosing to go here, you can stick to a particular lift to match your ability. The Sunnyside Lift, will lead you to a few intermediate runs. The Challenger and Iron Horse Lifts, are the ones you are looking for if you want to challenge yourself on some of the blacks. These alone can keep you busy for a full day. Beginners can take the High Lonesome Express lift which gives you access to a number of easier trails.

Winter Park ResortSome of the numerous gladesat Winter Park

The Winter Park area is an area that provides a variety of trails from greens to blacks and is suitable for any skier/rider. The Vasquez Ridge area is suitable for intermediates, but we didn’t really get much time to hit the trails here. But, since it is out of the way, I can see how this area tends to be quiet with short lift lines. The Cirque and Eagle Wind areas are dedicated to tougher blacks and extreme trails. You get some steep chutes and challenging tree skiing in these areas that will push you to your limits.

Winter Park ResortLunch crowd taking in some sun at the Lunch Rock

As far as eating on the mountain goes, it was similar to many mountains. It was expensive, but good. We had lunch at the top of Mary Jane at the Lunch Rock. We had the great Colorado scenery, but you should plan on spending $15 to $25 for lunch. But, you will be satisfied with the quality and quantity.

Although we were only at Winter Park for only one day, we had another great day and an excellent finish to our 5 days in Colorado. Winter Park is only 67 miles from Denver and has numerous trails for all ability levels making it a great place for the locals. For us, it gave us yet another great Colorado mountain to see and ski and was well worth going to. I would highly recommend going to Winter Park. The place is huge and it will be difficult to get tired of this place.

Part 1: Copper Mountain

Part 2: Steamboat Springs

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