8 things you didn’t know about Winter Park
It’s time. You’re planning your next winter holiday, and you want a destination that offers plenty of snowfall, bucket-loads of cowboy charm and enough activities to please the entire family.
Winter Park is the answer. Originally launched in the 1930s as a winter playground for the city folk from Denver, it’s now one of the biggest and best resorts in a state famous for ski and snowboarding destinations.
It’s far enough off the beaten track that you won’t find many Aussies in the lift lines. But it’s also easy to get to, and the famously friendly locals will be more than happy to show you around.
Here are eight of the wonderful, unique and fun features from Winter Park, Colorado.
Winter Park has been ranked the #1 ski resort
Not once, but twice, Winter Park has come in as the nation’s favourtie ski resort by USA Today.
And it’s pretty easy to see why. With 315 inches of annual snowfall (over 8 metres) per year, they also enjoy over 300 days of sunshine every year - making for plenty of those spectacular, powdery bluebird days.
There’s also plenty of ski-in, ski-out accommodation at the base of the resort, ensuring it’s a top pick for those who value convenience on their ski holiday. And if you want to head out and about to explore town, there’s a free shuttle to take you everywhere.
And then there’s the terrain, of course. Quite a bit of it, to be exact.
There’s over 3000 acres of skiable terrain at Winter Park
Get those ski and snowboard legs ready, because they’re going to be busy. With over 160 runs to discover, and 914 metres of vertical over two interconnected mountains, there’s truly something for everyone.
That includes groomers, glades, steeps and powder stashes. And while Winter Park happens to be famous for moguls, they serve as the perfect little entry gate to some of the lesser-known powder stashes.
Our tip is to find a local to show you the way. Which is why it’s so handy that they offer the perfect way to get to know one…
They’ve got the coolest snowcat tour in the market
What better way to make family memories than from the front seat of a snowcat? Winter Park offers this unique, family-fun experience, which lets you enjoy a cruisy cat ride to Vasquez Ridge while you watch the sunset over the Fraser Valley.
You’ll enjoy s’mores and beverages for the entire family before heading back to base, stargazing along the way. The ride can accommodate up to 10 guests.
Local experts offer Winter Park mountain tours - for free
This is, by far, the best way to get to know the mountain. Locals offer free daily tours at 9.30am and 12.30pm daily, ensuring you can find all those secret spots faster - and get the best tips on where is best to find an après beverage to suit your preferences.
If you’re on the more advanced side of the skiers and boarders out there, get them to show you the way to the 399 acres of off-piste terrain in The Cirque territory and jump on the Cirque Sled snowcat for easier access to the powder goods.
There are over 60 dining options for foodies
From cocktail bars to burger restaurants, it’s all here and waiting for you. Local families especially love the Goodies Mountain Creperie for fresh raclette, fondue, crepes and grilled cheese, just minutes from the chairlift and great for a pre-ski breakfast.
For après, try a high-altitude beer at the Hideaway Park Brewery, or head up the gondola to Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge for live music at 10,700 feet and a Rocky Mountain rainbow trout dinner. Plus there’s free gondola access for all to get there post-4pm.
As for drinks? Idlewild Spirits is the home of the best Moscow Mule on the planet, mixed with housemade booze and ginger beer; or duck into Hill House for a gourmet hot chocolate that will hit the spot after some tubing action.
You can take the direct train from Denver
Winter Park is just over 140km from Denver, close enough to the city for day trippers looking to exchange the hustle and bustle for the mountains.
Aussies can fly into mile-high Denver and jump on the super-slick, fast Winter Park Express from the city’s revamped Union Station or direct from the airport.
No need for car rentals, shuttles or navigating mountain roads. And it’s quick - from the 7am train, you can be on the slopes by 9.30am.
The coolest activities on are offer
Beyond the cat tours, you’ll find plenty of adventures to suit everyone at Winter Park - such as beautiful sunset snowshoe tours, snow biking, dog sledding and tubing.
But there are some truly unique offerings also on the list, and we have some favourites. Like the outdoor ice bumper cars (yes, really) that kids and kids at heart will love to try out on the pond.
Or for the romantics out there, opt for the year-round hot air ballooning, with a bird’s eye view of the mountains complete with champagne toast.
It’s not all about the resort
That’s right - the town of Winter Park is a destination in itself. Complete with a Main Street, a ranch museum and a saloon, it’s right out of a Western and is the perfect place to wander and see what you discover.
Don’t miss the first homestead, post office, and stage stop in the Fraser Valley, which were built in 1874 and can still be witnessed and enjoyed today.