The Snow Report
With a majority of expert runs, an excellent safety program, and 388 inches of annual snowfall, Winter Park is a high-altitude gem in the Rockies for serious rippers. It’s also the home of the National Sports Center for the Disabled, so skiers and riders with physical challenges are accommodated here better than anywhere else.
Many of Winter Park’s 134 trails are historic, and descend 3,060 feet over 3,081 acres. Twenty-five lifts, including an open-air gondola, soar over groomed runs, moving up to 40,000 people per hour between three peaks. There’s a terrain park, a good-sized ski patrol, an onsite medical clinic, and three full-service gear shops—when you rent equipment, opt for delivery service if you like.
Several former members of the U.S. ski team teach here, and the signature educational offerings include a private-lesson center, early-morning classes for first tracks, and Bob’s mogul camp—Bob Barnes has been a PSIA demo team member, and Jim Shaw is one now.
Staffed kids’ programs go into the night and take little ones tubing, climbing, and under-the-stars skating. A tube park is set to open in December. There’s also an alpine coaster, sleigh rides, ski biking, snowcat and snowshoe tours, and a spa for when you just need to recover from it all.
Habitat here is important: the Intrawest-owned resort conducted a study of local lynxes and hares to make sure the animals’ homes weren’t being adversely affected. In 2002, Winter Park bought 60,000 ladybugs to negate the need for pesticides (ladybugs eat other insects), and trails around the resort have benefited from reforestation efforts. Managers make sure that Winter Park recycles, composts, and uses AreaNet, a computerized program that monitors electricity consumption to shuts appliances off when they’re not being used.
There’s a decent restaurant scene downtown—Sharky’s is a must-try for breakfast—plus a movie theater, a bowling alley, and a few fun bars, including Deno’s and the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Café. Among the lodging options is Gasthaus Eichler, a heartily German-themed boutique hotel whose hot tub is in a gazebo. The complimentary homemade breakfast is customized for skiers, and an après-ski happy hour comes with free snacks. The hotel will even give you a comped gear wax.
CONTACT: (800) 729-7907, winterparkresort.com
SEASON: Mid-November to late April
TICKETS: General: $94 (reduced-price half-day tickets offered; discounts given to military personnel), children: $53, ages 65 and older: $77, ages 4 and younger: free