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!
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!
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 in, 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.
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!
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 ac, with 1,212 ac 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 ft, 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 ft. 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 ft. 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 ft 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.
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 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 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 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.