Insider's Guide To Winter Park

Winter-Park-Steep-Deep

Bowls galore for cornice jumping. (Winter Park/Facebook)

Winter Park typically stays open longer than all but two Colorado resorts. This season, closing is set for April 22, rivaled only by Arapahoe Basin and Loveland.

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Move Quickly: Spring Skiing Is Sweet But Short In West

Snowbird-Lounging

Cinco de Mayo atop Snowbird. (Snowbird/Facebook)

This time of year, the snow is melting and bare ground begins to show. But the spring ritual of skiing and riding under a warm sun and on moist, soft snow is a fitting close to any ski and snowboarding season.

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New Gondola At Winter Park To Reduce Crowding

Winter-Park-Carve

More carving at Winter Park with new gondola. (Winter Park/Facebook)

Winter Park Resort has announced that it will replace the mountain’s workhorse Zephyr Express chairlift with a gondola – a move aimed to upgrade the mountain’s infrastructure and to shorten weekend and holiday lines.

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Copper Cuts Season Pass Cost, Plans Chairlift-Gondola Combo

Copper-Snowy-Scenic

Copper to cut season pass price for next season. (Copper Mountain/Facebook)

The season pass battles are officially on for 2018-2019, and Copper Mountain has fired its salvo with an early-season pass priced about 25 percent lower than this season's top price.

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City Shreddin': Denver’s Free Terrain Park Cranks Up

Ruby-Hill-Boarders

Flyin' high over city of Denver. (Ruby Hill Railyard/Facebook)

For the 12th year, the nation’s best-known urban terrain park has opened at Ruby Hill Park in downtown Denver.

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Colorado-Based Consortium Now Named Alterra Mountain Company

Deer-Valley

Deer Valley is Alterra Mountain Company's Utah destination. (Alterra Mountain Company)

The joint venture of affiliates of KSL Capital Partners and Henry Crown and Company that brought together Intrawest Resorts holdings, Mammoth Mountain, Deer Valley and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, now has a name: Alterra Mountain Company.

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All Aboard! Winter Park Express Rolls Again

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Ski train rolls up into the mountains every weekend. (Winter Park/Facebook)

North America’s only slopeside railroad service resumes this week with Amtrak’s weekend service to Colorado’s Winter Park Resort.

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What’s New On The Mountains At Colorado Resorts

Purgatory-Scenic

Easier to get around Purgatory this year. (Purgatory/Facebook)

Each ski and snowboard season brings upgrades, improvements and just plain new stuff at Colorado resorts, where the competition for visitors is fierce.

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College Student Discounts At Colorado Resorts

Wolf-Creek-College

Selected days at Wolfie mean deep stuff on the cheap. (Wolf Creek Ski Area)

Going to college has many benefits for one’s future, but one perk for the present is a discount on season passes at Colorado ski resorts.

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Aspen-KSL Partnership To Buy Intrawest Resorts

Aspen-KSL Partnership To Buy Intrawest Resorts

Tremblant has new owner. (Tremblant/Facebook)

Consolidation in the winter resort industry continues as a partnership between a newly formed entity in Aspen and a private equity firm announced the pending purchase of Intrawest and its six ski and snowboard resorts.


Included in the deal, which is expected to be closed by next fall, are Steamboat, Winter Park, Snowshoe, Stratton, Mont Tremblant and Blue Mountain. They will join with Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, a property of partner KSL Capital Partnership, under the new corporate entity. Aspen SkiCo's Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands are not in the deal and will continue to operate independently.

Steamboat part of latest consolidation

Season tickets purchased for 2017-2018 at each resort will be honored, and the benefits of multi-resort passes Rocky Mountain Super Pass, the M.A.X. Pass and Mountain Collective will also continue through next season, according to a press release. No information has been given yet about consolidation of ticketing.

Skiers and snowboarders shouldn’t expect to see any major changes at any of the resorts this next season, as the deal won’t be signed and sealed until the third quarter of 2017. However, statements from Aspen Skiing Corp. and KSL Capital Partners indicate that the new corporation is ready to “help realize the collective potential of Intrawest’s portfolio of resorts.”

The deal comes as the latest in a trend toward consolidation in the ski and snowboard business. Vail Resorts expanded into the Eastern market with the recent purchase of Stowe, giving it a across-the-nation portfolio of resorts. Others owning multiple resorts include Boyne USA, Peak Resorts and Powdr Corp.

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Colorado Winter: The Show That Never Ends

Colorado Winter: The Show That Never Ends

Hit Mary Jane up for more spring. (Winter Park/Facebook)

Just when Colorado resorts prepare to shut down winter operations, snow storms roll into the Rockies -- and forcing a trio of mountains to keep their lifts running longer than scheduled.


Vail, Aspen and Mary Jane portion of Winter Park will stay in operation for at least a week longer than expected because of recent snow.

Resorts still open in the Centennial State report more than a foot of snow since the beginning of April – with some adding two feet or more. While temps warmed unseasonably in March, they cooled significantly once April arrived to not only produce new snow but also slow the annual slushing-up during the spring skiing period.

Extra week of partying at Vail

Vail has announced it will a week longer to April 17, due to two feet that have fallen in recent days. The majority of the front side of the mountain – plus Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls – will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ski school will run private lessons only.

High ridin' at Aspen

Over the hill at Aspen Mountain, diminishing snowfall in March – 30 inches total – made the scheduled closing date of April 16 realistic; however, another 17 inches in the first week of the month pushed the shutdown to April 23.

Operating hours will shift to 10 a.m.-5 p.m. to take allow slopes to warm up in the morning and to take advantage of longer days – unless a powder day shows up and lifts crank up at 9 a.m.

Top-to-bottom skiing will be served by Silver Queen Gondola, Ajax Express, FIS and Ruthie's lifts.

While the bulk of Winter Park closes on April 23, the bumps of Mary Jane will be ready for spring skiing and riding until April 30.


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Take Some Time: Longest Downhill Runs In US

Take Some Time: Longest Downhill Runs In US

A family heads down Village Way (Winter Park Resort/Chris Wellhausen)

Sometimes, you just want to get onto a trail and just go … and go … and go. Fortunately, U.S. ski and snowboard resorts have just the ticket for those who need a leisurely slide down the hill.


Obviously, Europe has us beat hands down, but the U.S. has got length, too. So SnoCountry.com went looking for the longest ski runs in the country -- those under a single name -- and came up with this sampling.

Vail boasts the longest run in Colorado, its famous Riva Ridge trail. Nothing gets you from top to bottom at the Colorado resort more readily than Riva Ridge. It’s mostly blue and black, starting near the summit and winding 4-1/2 miles to the Vail Village base area.

At Snowmass, if you’re at the top of Elk Camp and want a long cruiser at the end of the day, skiers and riders can link several blue runs off Elk Camp summit into a 5.3-mile cruiser to the bottom of Two Creeks chairlift. The run covers East Branch run, which is one of the longest single-named trails on the Colorado mountain.

If you’re at the top of Winter Park and don’t have the legs for anymore blacks or blues, as someone how to get on long and languid Village Way run that starts at the top of Parsenn Bowl. Mostly blue at the top, Village Way winds down more than five miles down onto the main front side of the Colorado resort.

Juggernaut at Killington

Vermont’s largest resort Killington also claims the East’s longest single run, a 10-mile cruise called Juggernaut. The trail starts at the top of Killington Peak and courses right along the ropes at ski area boundary. Rating begins as a blue but transitions to a green slide to the base of the Sunrise Village triple chair. A recent trip by SnoCountry resulted in a 45-minute trip from top to bottom.

 

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All Aboard! Winter Park Ski Train Back On Rails

All Aboard! Winter Park Ski Train Back On Rails

Up to 500 skiers and riders can hop on the revitalized Winter Park Express. (Winter Park Resort)

After being sidetracked for seven years, the famed Winter Park Express is back on the main line to ferry skiers and snowboarders to and from Winter Park Resort.


The maiden voyage from Denver’s Union Station to the base area of the resort on Jan. 7 is already sold out, but tickets are available for round trips on Saturdays and Sundays through March 26 – with extra trips on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day.

The strong demand for tickets to ride a train rather than fight traffic on I-70 and over Berthoud Pass prompted railroad officials to add another car. Capacity is about 500 riders.

It takes two diesel-electric locomotives to make the 60-mile trip that gains 3,700 feet in altitude – a trip that has two dozen tunnels including the final 6.2 miles through the venerable Moffat Tunnel.

After going through the 6-mile Moffat Tunnel, the ski train emerges at Winter Park

“When it comes to the service itself, the fact that Amtrak has added more capacity reinforces what we’ve known all along that Colorado loves this train,” Winter Park’s Steve Hurlburt told SnoCounty.com.

The ski train, which first ran in 1944 and ceased in 2009, takes off from downtown Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrives at the slopes at 9 a.m. After a day of skiing and riding on the slopes, the train leaves the Winter Park platform at 4:30 p.m. for the two-hour ride back down to Denver.

Right now, the cheapest ticket is $39, with higher-priced billets for refundable or discounts programs. Upgrades to first class are also available.

Colorado tourism and Winter Park officials see the rebirth of the ski train as another way to set skiing and riding in the Centennial State apart from others.

“What makes it even more exciting is with the new RTD A Line from Denver International Airport to Denver Union Station, visitors from throughout the country and around the globe can now access Colorado skiing without ever worrying about renting a car, sitting in traffic, or navigating sometimes treacherous mountain roads,” Hurlburt told us. “This option of going from plane to ski slopes via rail is completely unique to Winter Park in the United States.”

Winter Park ski train



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Safe Skiing, Riding Focus In January

Safe Skiing, Riding Focus In January

Avalanche dogs at Arapahoe Basin show how to load a lift. (NSAA/Facebook)

Nothing can upset a day on the slopes like an accident, so the National Ski Areas Association focuses the month of January on reminding skiers and riders about safety on the snow.

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Snow Comes To The West, Opening Days Abound

Snow Comes To The West, Opening Days Abound

A pair of skiers punctuate the new season at Copper Mountain. (Copper Mountain/Facebook)

Just as doomsayers raised their voices, Mother Nature came to the rescue in the West and turned the conversation to, “When are you opening?”


For many resorts in the Rockies, Sierra and Cascades, the answer is a resounding “soon.” Yes, terrain will be quite limited – often a couple of runs in the beginner/intermediate areas – but many ski and snowboard areas put up cheap ticket deals to get people to the slopes as soon as possible.

Significant snowfall coursed across the northern tier of the Western mountains in the past week, dropping as much as a foot on Steamboat which opens this week. Most Colorado resorts that pushed back their traditional pre-Thanksgiving opening days have put a new date on the calendar. Colorado’s Keystone, Breckenridge, Winter Park and Copper Mountain all dropped the ropes this past week, after a week’s delay. Eldora is set drop the ropes this week.

Farther south, resorts like Purgatory got enough to open while others, like Taos Ski Valley, put it off until snowmaking and natural snowfall will cover more terrain.

Mammoth snowmakers

Out west In SoCal, Mammoth Mountain has been open for a couple of weeks and, in the Sierra, both Boreal and Mount Rose began spinning lifts this past week while a slew of other Tahoe-area resorts plan to open for Thanksgiving.

Early snow has come fitfully to Utah, but Snowbasin plans to lead the pack with a Wednesday (Nov. 23) start, followed by Park City on Friday (Nov. 25). A bunch of Utah’s 15 resorts haven’t announced an opening yet.

Up in the Northwest, Mount Baker expects to win the race this season by kicking off the season on Nov. 23. Others have coverage, but await more.

OpenSnow forecasters see multiple storm systems rolling in off the Pacific in the next couple of weeks, bringing significant snowfall to the mountains and brightening the prospects for early-goers all across the West.


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Loveland, Mammoth Set To Spin Lifts Nov. 10

Loveland, Mammoth Set To Spin Lifts Nov. 10

Loveland's snow guns have been blasting in the last couple of weeks. (Loveland/Facebook)

UPDATED Wednesday, Nov. 9: Loveland Ski Area becomes the second ski and snowboard mountain in the Rockies as the resort is all prepped and ready for opening on Thursday (Nov. 10).

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A Summer Hopping With Brewfests

A Summer Hopping With Brewfests

Although the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is only three days and nights, once you get to Telluride, you won't want to go home. (Telluride Brews & Blues Festival)

What’s on tap for this summer of fun? Along with sampling some of the finest craft beers around, a trip to a beer festival this summer also means live music, tempting food, and another perfect reason to get outside and enjoy the mountains. 

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Spring Highlights Top Bump Runs In Rocky Mountains

Bump skier TellurideAs spring skiing season arrives, you usually find more VW-size moguls than snorkel-deep powder at Rocky Mountain resorts. Combine with warm bluebird days, and you’ve got prime time for bump-a-holics.

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Steamboat To Go High-Speed Mid-Mountain; Adds Summer Fun

Steamboat kidsA frequent logjam for skiers and riders at Steamboat Mountain will get some relief, as the northern Rockies resort announced an upgrade for the Elkhead chairlift. Work is set for summer.

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Denver’s Urban Terrain Park Opens Early As Metro Shredders’ Playground

Ruby Hill DenverOver the past nine years, thousands of kids and adults in the Denver area -- and a few with layovers in the Colorado city -- have only to go to a metro park to get their shreddin’ jones satisfied. This season is no exception.

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