Winter-Park-Train This season, the famed Winter Park ski train makes its runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to and from Denver. (

With greater purpose than ever, the "Winter Park Express" fires up for another season Jan. 10, adding all Fridays to its daily service from Denver to the slopes and trail of Winter Park, and back.

Entering its 78th year of service along the trans-mountain Amtrak route, the ski train is -- more than ever -- seen as a major transportation option for skiers and riders heading up to the slopes. Thus, the service has put the Friday service for the entire season, which is scheduled to end March 29.

Ski train railcars hitch a ride on the transcontinental Amtrak California Zephyr on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For $29 one way, skiers and riders take a two-hour ride of 56 miles, 49 tunnels and a rise of 4,000 feet in order to get to Winter Park --- just in time for the first chair.

In the morning, the only slope-side train service in North America departs Denver's Union Station at 7:30 a.m. Seating is limited to about 500, so online reservations are highly recommended. The return trip, which also requires a one-way ticket, picks up skiers and snowboarders at 4:30 p.m. -- a half-hour after the lifts close -- and drops them off in Denver at 6:30.

While in the mountains, skiers and snowboarders can help Winter Park celebrate 80 years of continual skiing and riding in the Frazier Valley.

Last year, the train added a two-level, glassed-in lounge car – the Superliner Sightseer car that serves many Amtrak routes around the country. Open seating for 73 is available, plus snacks, beverages, beer and wine for the two-hour ride.

The train is seen as an alternative to driving I-70 to U.S. 40 and over Berthoud Pass. In particular I-70, the amount of day skiers and snowboarders heading to Winter Park, the resorts of Summit County, or Vail and Beaver Creek often slows traffic to a crawl.

For tickets and more information, go to the Winter Park Express website.