Winter Park, Colorado

Winter Park is the longest continuously operated ski resort in Colorado starting in 1939. It was owned and operated by the city of Denver until 2002. Since then a lot of money has been invested and it’s really upped it’s game to the level of other major destination resorts in Colorado.

Morning powder at Winter Park, December 2014

Morning powder at Winter Park, December 2014

Stats

Vertical Drop 3060′
Size 3081 Acres
Annual Snowfall 326 Claimed, 313 Actual
Lifts 26
Trails 143
Review Date December 2014
Number of visits 1
Our Rating ★★★
Winter Park Trail Map 2016/17

Winter Park Trail Map 2016/17

Review

December 2014 was incredibly snowy in Summit County and the front range of Colorado. So it was a really bad decision to get another crappy rental car with all-season radials for this trip. We book well in advance so you never know what’s going to happen. Of course snow is always good, but it makes for some exciting driving, and the trip over Berthoud Pass from Denver is not something you really want to do in a compact sedan on a powder day.

Winter Park, December 2014

Winter Park, December 2014

Because of Berthoud Pass, accessing Winter Park is not as easy as all of the other resorts in Summit County. With lots of wheel spin we made it though, and it was a pretty darn good powder day. We really scored because on that particular day Winter Park got more snow than any other resort in Colorado. When the storms come in from the Northwest like that one did, it can happen.

Blue terrain at Winter Park, December 2014

Blue terrain at Winter Park, December 2014

Winter Park has 2 distinct sides and we started on the Mary Jane side. That’s where you will find long steep runs and it’s known for having lots of ungroomed bump runs and even some steeper short chutes. Since it was a powder day this was the best skiing of the day, but I got the feeling that on a non-powder day we would probably have wanted to stick to the groomers there because it bumps up fast, and they are the deep bumps that are just plain work. All of The Jane is served by a long six-pack express called the Super Gauge Express. We took a number of runs there and then moved on to the Sunnyside triple which had some interesting blue runs. There weren’t really any cruisers because of the powder, but the lower angle stuff was definitely easier.

Mary Jane at Winter Park, December 2014

Mary Jane at Winter Park, December 2014

We would have liked to have skied the Panoramic Express which takes you to the highest part of the mountain, but it was early season and even though there was plenty of snow it wasn’t open yet. Maybe next time. The lift accesses Parsenn Bowl and The Cirque which is high altitude bowl skiing and typically we would definitely check that out.

Winter Park, December 2014

Winter Park, December 2014

We had lunch at a sit-down restaurant at Sunspot at the top of the Winter Park side of the resort which was quite good. After lunch we tried the various lifts and runs on that side of the resort. Unfortunately that side is really confusing and convoluted with several lifts that serve generally short runs broken up by roads and crossing trails. That’s what sometimes happens with ski hills that have evolved over decades, but this one is really the worst case of that and we didn’t spend much time there.

Winter Park, December 2014

Winter Park, December 2014

Vasquez Ridge is a great protected pod that is much more recently developed and has some great terrain. Above that is the Eagle Wind triple and that was also closed but it looks like some good tree skiing can be had over there.

The good

  • Great steep north facing terrain at Mary Jane
  • Has an interesting variety of high-altitude terrain
  • Better tree skiing than most of the other resorts in Summit County
Lots of easy terrain at Winter Park if you like that kind of thing, December 2014

Lots of easy terrain at Winter Park if you like that kind of thing, December 2014

The bad

  • The Winter Park side is very confusing and convoluted
  • More difficult to get to from Denver due to Berthoud Pass
  • Too few steeper, long blue or black groomers
Lots of tree skiing at Winter Park, December 2014

Lots of tree skiing at Winter Park, December 2014

Would we go back

We would like to try Winter Park again when everything is open, but it’s a tough sell given that we aren’t really interested in the Winter Park side. However, I’ve heard good things about it from our friends Tyler and Bria who worked there for a season, so hopefully we will get back there someday.