Winter Park

Overview

Winter Park is actually a 29% larger ski area than Breckenridge but many in the UK still haven't heard of it. Now, is that down to Breckenridge's huge marketing machine or Winter Park's failure to get the message across. Well, we at Snow Finders hope that Winter Park doesn't market itself more as we love it's uncrowded ski area. It's true that it does suffer from some weekend traffic (being the largest major ski area to Denver) but it has a much lower density of skiers than it's famous neighbour, Breckenridge.

The actual town of Winter Park is a short bus ride from the ski area but accommodation is also possible at the base of the mountain with ski in ski out being on offer by many properties. The town was born from the construction of the Rio Grande railway back in the nineteenth century and many of the buildings give it that old cowboy feel and charm with their clapboard construction and front porches. Saloon styled bars line the high street and are interspersed with shops and lodging options. It's impossible to talk about the ski area without mentioning one of the mountains, Mary Jane. This ski hill is named after an infamous local prostitute who did "so much" for the community that she was rewarded with a mountain of her own - she must have bent over backwards for the local male citizens!

With a ski area covering over 3000 acres Winter Park is large ski  terrain for a North American resort. The snow is reputedly the best in Colorado and this is attributed to the fact that the Continental Divide dissects the ski area. Mary Jane mountain is famed for its moguls but there is so much more on offer here including cruisey blues, glade skiing, back country and groomers. the ski area is Colorado's second highest at 2745m and rising to 3675m so just bear in mind that altitude sickness can be a problem. An overnight stop in Denver, itself at 2000m, can help ease you in gently to the height of Winter Park.

Beginners will be in heaven here. The Sorensen nursery facility is a learning zone that is enjoyed by children and adults plus there is a dedicated 25 acre nursery section known as Discovery Park which ensures a safe and unintimidating experience for novice skiers. Beginners can then advance to various long and wide green runs and will be able to ski from the top of Mary Jane right down into the village.

Intermediates will also love the resort. There is a huge array of runs of all standards and any average intermediate will be able to ski from any of the four major peaks in the safe knowledge that there will be runs to rest them and runs to flatter them too. Fancy a bash at the powder? Then Parsenn offers great glade skiing to attempt your first tracks at off-piste. Fancy trying the moguls? Then have a nibble at Sleeper for some low sized bumps coupled with plenty of exit routes if you are struggling.

Advanced skiers will be "a hootin' and a hollerin'" here in Winter Park! Try Mary Jane for what is regularly voted the best bump ski area in North America.  Moguls the size of swiss exercise balls and even larger are all on offer. Couple that with the amazing Vasquez Cirque back bowl and the back side of the Parsenn - both powder havens and you have enough skier to keep Glen Plake happy let alone aspiring Brits.  

There are also some truly serious terrain parks here in WP, one of which requires a pass, disclaimer. and safety video screening before you even look at the kickers and hits (Dark Territory). For the less gnarly then you can cut your teeth on the easier parks such as Starter and Bouncer Park.

 

Positive

  • Good mixed ability resort
  • Best snowfall in Colorado
  • Best value Colorado resort
  • Dedicated beginners area
  • Closest major Colorado resort to Denver airport
  • Village base accommodation and facilities improving

Negative

  • Village and mountain base a short bus ride away
  • Little attraction for non skiers but changing

Offslope/apres ski

Winter Park village and the nearby town of Fraser are fantastic for non-skiers giving an old town cowboy experience and the close by Silverthorne retail outlet shopping village is just around an hour away. Cross country skiing, tubing, snowmobiling, and ice skating are on on offer.

For apres ski drinking then ther are various bars and clubs from laid back lounges to loud discos to live music venues. The Moffat Station micro-brewery has an extensive range of beers and at the base of Mary Jane the Club Bar is great foe early evening apres ski. other  bars include Denos, Derailer, Doc's Roadhouse, and The Monk. 

Our View

Probably the best value Colorado resort with great skiing for mixed ability groups. Vastly underrated with serious challenges for expert skiers, miles of terrain for intermediates and reserved nursery areas for beginners too. Snow Finders love Winter Park and if you make the journey you will too.

 

At a glance

Chalets:
1
Hotel & Apartments:
6
Pistes:
3060 acres
Resort height:
2745m
Top station:
3675m

Suitability

Experts:
4 stars
Intermediates:
4 stars
Beginners:
5 stars
Non-Skiers:
2 stars
Scenery:
3 stars
Resort charm:
3 stars
Nightlife:
2 stars