If you’re traveling by air to Colorado, you’re going to end up at Denver International Airport. The chances of getting snowed in at the airport are unlikely as it is located in a relatively low altitude area but has happened in the past so keep an eye out on the weather forecast! From the airport you have plenty of options, including rental car, shuttle bus, private limo and train travel to reach Winter Park.
Winter Park is roughly 90 mi from Denver International Airport and a two hour drive depending on traffic conditions. The most direct way to get to Winter Park is to take I-70, exit onto Highway 40 and drive north through a sparsely populated town of Empire. The short run from Empire to Winter Park can be deceptively time consuming, as it is a winding mountain road that passes through some potentially hazardous stretches. Use caution on this last leg of your drive because even though you’re close, you’re not there yet.
As you drive up the I-70 corridor, the climb in elevation increases the likelihood that you’ll run into snow-related delays. Highway 40 from the I-70 turnoff crosses Berthoud pass, which closes frequently during the winter months for avalanche control. During heavy snowfall periods, these closures usually take place in the early mornings for routine safety protocols before reopening for the bulk of the day to facilitate routine travel. If you are driving from Denver International Airport, it is a good idea to check with the Colorado Department of Transportation to see if there are any current or pending road closures along your travel route. There is an alternate route into Winter Park, but it is only accessible during the spring and summer months (via Highway 34, south from Estes Park through Granby).
If you are planning to do a bit of exploring, you can keep driving down the I-70 corridor which weaves through the Colorado Rockies. You’ll pass through dozens of notable Colorado Mountain towns and resort destinations including Idaho Springs, A-Basin, Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco, Dillon/Silverthorne, Copper Mountain, Leadville, Aspen/Snowmass and many others.
If you want to dictate your own traveling schedule, you can simply rent a car from Denver International Airport and drive to Winter Park. We suggest hiring a 4 wheel drive vehicle with snow tires or all-weather tires with deep treads. Just make sure you’ve got a valid driver’s license and experience in navigating icy roads. Expect to shell out anywhere from $100 to $300 per day for a rental car.
Once you get to Winter Park, there is plenty of parking in paid and unpaid lots early in the morning. You can pick from one of 3,200 free parking spaces at the resort - all of which are located within half a mile of the ski lifts. However, these fill up quickly so if you get there after 10am, it might take you a while to search for a space.
If you have to use a parking lot that is particularly far from the lifts, you can quickly get to the village by jumping on the free cabriolet gondola. Lots F and G also offer free Park-N-Ride shuttles from 7:40am until 10:00am every day.
The Old Town Lots; including Lone Tree, Blue Spruce, Bus Barn and Adolf's are serviced by Park-N-Ride shuttles on weekends and holiday periods only, from November 19th to March 26th during the hours of 7:30am to 6:30pm. The Park-N-Ride service can also shuttle you back and forth from the Mary Jane Day Centre and the Mary Jane main parking lots to Winter Park resort every 30 minutes.
The north end of Winter Park resort provides entrance to the North Bench Lot, which allows you to conveniently walk-in and walk-out of the ski area. Your best bet for the most convenient parking is to aim for the Village Parking Garage, which is centrally located in the Winter Park village. The first two levels provide 200 covered parking spaces at a rate of $25 per day and $15 per half day starting at noon.
The Home James Shuttle Service makes getting to the slopes easy. It makes eleven runs between Denver International Airport and the Winter Park resort daily during winter and takes roughly 2 hours. The shuttles operates from 9:00am to 10:00pm from the airport and 5:30am to 7:00pm from the resort. The trips drop to six per day after late March. The cost is $72 per adult and the shuttle will drop you off exactly where you are staying at the resort or the nearby towns of Winter Park or Fraser. The drivers are familiar with the area and the popular lodging destinations so you’ll be in good hands.
If you are intrigued by the idea of relaxed, leisurely travel - getting to Winter Park by train is a great way to enjoy the trip. The train’s ascent up the mountains follows, in part, the path of the Colorado River - cutting through pristine stretches of dense, gorgeous forest.
If you are coming from the airport, you can take the A-Line train which will take you to Union Station in Downtown Denver in 40 minutes. From there, you have a few options:
The Winter Express (previously the Ski Train) offers weekend train services directly into the base of the resort. This route stopped running in 2009 after operating for 69 years but was restored in 2017. The line runs early January through to late March, leaving Union Station 7am in the morning and returning from Winter Park 4:30pm in the afternoon. The journey is takes 2 hours and you’ll need to pre-book through Amtrack.
If you’re heading down on a weekday, you’ll need to take the Amtrak California Zephyr which runs daily all year round. However, there’s a downside – the train only lets you off at Fraser which is 5 mi from the resort. You’ll need to take an additional taxi, Uber or shuttle service to make it to the slopes.