I’d heard great things about another Alterra-owned resort – Winter Park – so after our season ended I headed west to Colorado. The Winter Park ski season lasts just slightly longer than ours so I was there from March 27-30. The weather was a mix: in the beginning of the trip I was skiing in a t-shirt on a bluebird day and on the last day it was freezing, windy and snowing heavily. After I left Colorado they got a lot more snow! Hopefully West Virginia will have the same good fortune next year.
Luckily I had a few friends in the area to show me around. The ski instructor industry is fairly small and a friend from Snowshoe now teaches there which is awesome! It was nice to experience a resort as a customer and be able to ski and board freely and choose trails I wanted to do.
Winter Park is known for its moguls and an entire section of the mountain is bumped up – Mary Jane. The slogan is “No Pain No Jane” and it’s true, I was extremely tired after heading down miles of perfect bumps. There are also a lot of great tree runs, which I have heard are amazing on a powder day. Unfortunately we encountered a lot of ice trying to head through the trees, but I’m sure they are really fun in the right conditions.
The highest point is 12,060 ft. at the top of the Parsenn Bowl. You can get great panoramic photos here! There are easy and advanced Winter Park ski trails leading off of the bowl. I would have loved to check out the terrain parks but didn’t have enough time!
I stayed at the Viking Inn, which is slightly into town but not too far from the resort. Thankfully my friend has a car and parking is pretty easy at the accommodation. But there is also a shuttle to the resort and Amtrak station. I planned to take the Amtrak from Denver to Winter Park, however it was highly delayed (a day behind schedule) so I don’t recommend relying on it for transport.
The Viking Inn is really economical and although the rooms are pretty basic, there are some sweet amenities. The lobby has a small kitchen and you get a locker for your gear on the ground floor! Just remember to bring your boots up to your room – nothing is worse than trying to put on cold boots in the morning. I was able to fit my Dakine Low Roller into the locker, but it was tight.
I used the Dakine Low Roller for my flight and a High Sierra boot and helmet bag. All my gear fit with a little effort: snowboard, skis, ski boots, helmet, poles, gloves, liners, facemasks, all my clothes, toe warmers, everything. My United by Blue backpack served as my personal item on the flight and held my cosmetics. I didn’t need any other luggage. You can use tshirts, snowboard pants, jeans, puffy and base layers for protection/to wrap skis and snowboard in the checked bag. Both United and American Airlines consider the 157 size to be standard. So I didn’t have to pay any oversize fees, just the usual cost of checking a bag ($30). I do recommend you weigh your bag before getting to the airport.
Winter Park is honestly pretty limited in vegan options, but don’t let that discourage a visit. Like Snowshoe, Winter Park has a Starbucks in the village. My go-to breakfast: Starbucks oatmeal with soymilk – it’s filling and great energy for riding all day. The Mexican restaurant in the village, Lime, is very accommodating. Despite limited options, they created a smothered burrito for me with beans, rice and avocado. The standout restaurant was actually in town, Fraser Valley Distilling. Their menu offers a loaded-up Impossible Burger and the cocktails were delicious. (I’ve since stopped eating Impossible Burgers due to concerns over GMO soy and Roundup contamination.) The Ditch on 40 serves awesome margaritas – we went there every night for a drink. They also have good sweet potato fries. The Rocky Mountain Roastery is my pick for great coffee.
Next year I’m hoping to visit Mammoth, Squaw Valley and Mt. Hood at the end of the season. If you have any recommendations for these mountains please let me know in the comments!