The Denver-to-Winter Park ski train has become more than just a nod to the past: It's now a viable transportation option for Denverites headed to the hills.
Proof of its popularity can be seen by new round-trips on the first two Fridays of January, February and March. The new offerings couple with round-trip service on Saturdays and Sundays between downtown Denver's Union Station and the slopes of Winter Park. Cost is $29 each way, with children 12 and under riding for half price with a ticketed adult.
New this season is the addition of 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 ski train leaves Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrives at Winter Park at 9 a.m. – just in time to catch the first chair. Return train stops at Winter Park at 4:30 p.m. and arrives in Denver at 6:40 p.m.
The train is seen as a alternative to driving I-70 to U.S. 40 and over Berthoud Pass. In particular I-70 traffic often slows to a crawl with the amount of day skiers and snowboarders heading to Winter Park and the other resorts of Summit County.
Plus, the railroad ride is punctuated by 29 tunnels as it winds its way up to the Continental Divide. Boring under the Divide is the longest railroad tunnel in North America – the 6.2-mile Moffat Tunnel – that exits right at the base of Winter Park.
The short-run train service for skiers, snowboarders and simple sightseers will run until March 31. Ticket sales top out at about 500 for each run, available online or at the station.