Winter Park Resort – Colorado’s Unpretentious Old Friend

Only 66 miles from Denver, Winter Park is a family-oriented hill that packs a lot of punch.

The city owns the mountain but IntraWest manages the resort. Those familiar with other Intrawest resorts will notice similarities including the Cabriolet lift and the skating pond, the red courtesy wagons to haul your gear around.

The resort offers seven “territories” and three peaks spread over 1,247 hectares of skiable terrain. There is something here for everyone.

Head to the Mary Jane for bumps that include a lot of tree options.

The locals call it simply ‘The Jane’ and she will get your heart racing.

Those who fall in love can pick up a bumper sticker or shirts emblazoned with the territory’s tag line: No pain, No Jane.

If you like the steep stuff, head to the Cirque.

Get there with a lot of poling and skate-skiing or, for a few extra dollars, purchase a Cirque Sled add-on and get pulled from the top of Panoramic Express by a snowmobile.

Eagle Wind is one of my favourite territories. It’s quiet, steep, deep and thick with trees.

Vasquez Ridge is another great place to head to get away from the weekend base traffic that is more intermediate friendly. There is also the Terrain Park with its 18-foot half pipe and more rails and features.

Skiing in Colorado never disappoints. With an average of 300 sunny days a year, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have great skiing. For all those who think that March is too late to ski out west, think again. Colorado consistently get more snow in the month of March than any other time of the year.

You’ll be blown away by all the adaptive skiers flying past on the slopes.

Home to the National Sports Centre for the Disabled, you’ll see visually-impaired skiers with sighted guides, paraplegic seated mono-sled skiers and an assortment skiers using forearm crutches with skis on the end.

What a wonderful sight.

In addition to the lodges at the base of Mary Jane and Winter Park both peaks also have mountain-top lodges that are great places for groups to meet up for lunch. Sunspot offers both a table-service restaurant with great views of the valley and a cafeteria-style option.

The Lunch Rock at the peak of Mary Jane is perpetually busy because the food is so darn good and the views are fantastic. Skiers are friendly folks who love to swap stories so don’t be shy, find an empty chair and join a table.

At the end of the day, the Derailer bar at the base of Winter Park is a great place to relax and quench your thirst with one of Colorado’s many micro-brewed beers.

There are restaurants and food options in the village at the base of the hill or you can hop on the free shuttle service into the town of Fraser.

If you plan to stay overnight, the resort has a host of options in the base village including the ski-in, ski-out Zepher Lodge.

Whether you pop up from Denver for a day of skiing or you are in Colorado for an extended ski vacation, make Winter Park part of your Colorado ski country experience.

New friends might be silver but old friends are gold n