Winter Park Resort

Winter Park Resort, Colorado

Written by Jack Lee • Photos by Greg and Heather Burke • Last updated Oct 21, 2017

Colorado’s longest continually operating ski resort, Winter Park opened for business way back in 1940 and has been putting smiles on the faces of skiers ever since! Famed for its monster moguls, if you're a fan of knee-shocking bumps the size of small cars then you’ll love it here, but that’s not all. The terrain on offer is vast, with a rare combination of very different types of trails. High alpine chutes and powder bowls, glade skiing and backcountry runs, secluded powder stashes and spacious groomers, all this and more makes Winter Park a truly diverse mountain. Skiers and snowboarders who want to get a taste of off-piste and backcountry style riding while still keeping within ski area boundaries should look no further than Winter Park!

View from Cirque Territory, Winter Park

Now for the bad news... for the past few seasons Winter Park has seen slightly less snowfall than some of its counterparts in Colorado. It also lacks some of the facilities and activities you might expect from a major ski destination, like oxygen bars to combat altitude sickness or easily available snowmobile rides. On the flip side, it’s a great choice for a quiet family getaway, and if you're all intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders you’re guaranteed to get a kick out of this place!

That’s not to say there are no pow days at Winter Park (taken at Balcony House)

What Winter Park does best is authenticity, it’s not a show pony ski resort that attracts the rich and famous. You won't find hordes of foreign visitors jostling with you in the lift queues. It just offers top notch skiing and snowboarding for people serious about getting maximum time on the mountain. With an average annual snowfall of over 320 inches, when the crisp dry Colorado white stuff falls it never fails to disappoint. If you time it right the powder skiing here can be as good as anywhere in the United States. 

The Village at Winter Park Resort

Come at Christmas to see the unique torchlight parade on December 24th, which involves skiers holding flares while descending the mountain to the sound of traditional holiday jingles!

Torchlight Parade!

The Mountain

High up in the Colorado Rockies, huddled next to the Continental Divide, Winter Park Ski Resort is actually split between two main mountains, named Winter Park and Mary Jane. These mountainsides are also divided into seven different territories, each offering a surprisingly different ski and snowboard experience. The amount of skiable terrain here totals up to 3,081 acres, with {1,212 acres}} of that being powdery off-piste, including glades, chutes, and bowls! Here’s a rundown of each section and what it has in store for you.

Heading straight to the top at 12,060 feet, Parsenn Bowl and The Cirque are your two options here, and unless you’re ready to drop into some extreme double black runs don’t go for the latter. The Cirque is as intense as it gets within the ski boundaries of Winter Park, nothing but the deep and steep, with both high alpine gullies and tree line routes akin to backcountry. Even Parsenn Bowl is only really suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders, it’s a mix of blue and blacks, an open bowl that offers incredible views as you race down to the Mary Jane territory.

Earning legendary status for its mogul fields, Mary Jane has always been regarded as the harder-to-ski mountain when compared to Winter Park. Almost 60% of the runs here are blacks, which are generally never groomed so bumps grow quickly! If you love moguls, great. If not, stay away. To the right of Mary Jane there’s the Eagle Wind territory, essentially sidecountry where it’s all about turning through the trees. It’s some of the best glade skiing and snowboarding in the resort so well worth a look, and it leads into Vasquez Ridge. Thanks to its difficult accessibility, this territory on the mountain is often the last to be tracked out, and a wise choice if you’re searching for a powder stash.

Next we have Winter Park, which is undoubtedly the best option for beginners and less confident intermediates, with almost 50% of the trials being greens and blues. Out of all the territories, it’s Winter Park that has the most vertical drop, which comes in at a very respectable 2,220 feet. For the entire resort, from the top of the Panoramic Express chairlift to the Winter Park base village, the total vertical drop is even more impressive at 3,060 feet. If it’s terrain parks you’re looking for you’ll find them all on the Winter Park side of the mountain. Labelled by the resort as one of the seven territories, the unquestionable highlight of Terrain Park is the enormous 18 foot superpipe!

When to Go

Locals here enjoy a wonderfully long ski season, the high elevation soon turns the peaks white once fall turns to winter. Generally, the slopes and lifts on the lower parts of the mountain are open for a full five months, sometimes even a little longer, from mid-November to late-April. As with all of Colorado, the best months for snow are January and February. It takes a big dump of powder before the expert-only terrain at the top of the mountain is ready to be shred, so if this is a big draw for you then time your visit during February. While weekdays can be surprisingly quiet, weekends can see droves of skiers and snowboarders from Denver descend on Winter Park, particularly during the peak season of December to February.

Challenging the mountain at Winter Park

Getting Tickets

If you plan to spend the season conquering Winter Park, a season pass is ideal. It will cost $429 if you pick it up early and it comes with some perks including discounts throughout the resort on rentals, retail purchases and meals.

Quicktrax cards are also available that can be preloaded with funds. Tickets bought the day of your visit can range from $130 USD for a full day and less for a half day. A four day pass is also available at a slightly discounted rate.

The resort also offers a variety of passes and deals which offer a number of days in nearby resorts if you are planning to do a bit of exploring. The Route 40 Season Pass priced at $509 USD offers unlimited days at Winter Park, four days at Steamboat and three days at Mt. Hood Meadows (west coast). The Rocky Mountain Super Pass is another option at $600 USD and offers unlimited access to Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora plus six days at Steamboat, three days at Crested Butte and three days at Mt. Bachelor (west coast).

Just be careful when buying the tickets and check that there are no blackout dates! Some tickets restrict access during certain holiday periods but are a great buy if you’re not sticking around during those days.

Elevation

Base
9000 feet
Base
Summit
12060 feet
Summit
Vertical Drop
3060 feet
Vertical Drop

Lifts

Gondola & Tram
1
Gondola & Tram
High Speed Sixes
2
High Speed Sixes
High Speed Quads
7
High Speed Quads
Triple Chairs
4
Triple Chairs
Double Chairs
6
Double Chairs
Surface Lifts
5
Surface Lifts

Terrain

Beginner Runs
24 %
Beginner Runs
Intermediate Runs
37 %
Intermediate Runs
Advanced Runs
34 %
Advanced Runs
Expert Runs
5 %
Expert Runs
Total Runs
153
Total Runs
Terrain Parks
8
Terrain Parks
Longest Run
5 miles
Longest Run
Skiable Terrain
3081 acres
Skiable Terrain
Snowmaking Area
299 acres
Snowmaking Area

Opening and closing dates

Season Open Date Close Date
2017/2018 11/19/2017 (estimated) 05/01/2018 (estimated)
2016/2017 11/23/2016 04/30/2017
2015/2016 11/18/2015 05/07/2016
2014/2015 11/15/2014 04/26/2015

Lift ticket and season pass prices

Category Age restrictions Price (USD unless otherwise stated)
Adult 13 - 69 $159
Child 5 & under Free
Child 6 - 12 $84
Senior 70 & over $114
Season Pass
(17/18 Winter Park Season Pass)
$469

Overall Rating

4.5 / 5 based on 59 reviews
Timothy Paton

I enjoy our trips to winter park every year. There are a large number of well priced resorts to choose from. Also being able to catch the train from the airport all the way to the resort is so convenient. Never a bad time.

Posted on Nov 17, 2017
James Moffett

I really like this resort because they also have a disabled ski program that allows disabled young adults, adults, and children to have the opportunity to ski or snowboard which is something they might have now been able to other wise .

Posted on Nov 12, 2017
Connor Ryan

The most consistent resort in Colorado and possibly the nation, been to 15+ resorts in 6 states, and honestly I'll always come back here if given the choice, ESPECIALLY on a powder day! Snows more here than Summit County and obviously has the classic Colorado champagne powder, but the snow conditions stay consistent even when it hasn't snowed in weeks. Terrain for everyone, from ridiculous chutes to steep gladed trees, and plenty of intermediate and beginner runs, terrain parks for every skill level. Just the best. 3600 acres, great vertical, perfect snow, 1 hour from Denver, what more could you want?

Posted on Nov 08, 2017
David Hart

Choosing a favorite is never easy. Looking back over the last 30 years I have more days at Winterpark Resort. I come for Mary Jane and the moguls. Best anywhere...with a knowing know to Ajax. The low key aspect is changing with all the new development. These improvements have made a difference for the better. I am very excited to see what KSL will do in the future. I do hope I don't get priced out of the ski industry. Winter park Resort has always been a great value and quiet on the weekdays. Weekends are more crowded but the lifts move the masses. I love this Mountain!

Posted on Nov 06, 2017
Steve Ohlfest from Colorado

If you like to spend most of your time on the skiing/snowboarding while on vacation (not looking for great lodging or nightlife options), Winter Park is a fantastic ski resort! The mountain is HUGE and terrain is extremely varied - with lots of slopes for beginners to experts. Winter Park is also the ONLY ski resort in North America where you can take a train from a major airport (Denver) that drops off right at the bottom of the lifts (take the airport train to downtown Denver, then transfer to Amtrak's Winter Park Express). Fantastic!

Posted on Oct 30, 2017
Dave warren

Winter park resort is great for all skill levels and ages. It's very easy to navigate. I first came out here 4 years ago and feel in love. Some of the best side mountain terrain I've found. People think its a small resort but we're almost the same size as Vail. Even on a crowded day you can still find powder staches if you know where to look. I would love to have this chance to check out all the other mountains. Thank you

Posted on Nov 13, 2017
Benjamin Hood

Winterpark offers a really nice experience as a destination resort. One of the closes resorts to Denver. My partner and I stayed at the then new Zephyr Lodge. It was very cozy, and easy walking distance to the lifts. Snow quality was good. The resort does have a lot to offer for everyone. However, I might not return because a large portion of the terrain is catered to moguls.

Posted on Nov 10, 2017
Nick Hochevar

Winter Park is the best resort within a 2 hour drive of Denver. Less time spent on I-70 compared to Summit County. Best snow quality and most powder days in Colorado. Love the Mary Jane side - great parking, drinks and above all challenging terrain.

Posted on Nov 07, 2017
Keith Chapman

Not great if you are looking to party, but its a nice quite place off the beaten path for families and people just looking to ski. Lodging away from the base area is pretty reasonable.

Posted on Nov 06, 2017
Jordan from Colorado

Great mountain! Tons of steeps on the Mart Jane side. Take the cirque cat out to some nice side country stash. Plenty of cruisey blues on the winter park side. A little something for everyone.

Posted on Oct 26, 2017