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“I live for Mary Jane.” That reader’s comment sums up the sentiment around this classic Colorado resort, whose black-diamond and mogul-studded side has always inspired devout worship (not to mention plenty of “safety meetings”). “Best bumps in North America!” exclaims another fanatic. The Winter Park side has long been known for cruisers like Cranmer and Jabberwocky, earning it a No. 6 for Family Friendly. But this resort has, in the past two decades, become more than the sum of its parts.
Intrawest (which bought it from the City and County of Denver in 2002) built the Village and chairlift into Parsenn Bowl; Alterra, which bought the resort in 2018, replaced the crowd-choked Zephyr chair with a gondola at the base of WP and, new for this season, replaced Mary Jane’s Sunnyside lift with a high-speed six-pack. All of this has helped Denver’s local hill come of age as a destination resort—but, as readers happily report, without ruining the local-hill vibe. “Low key, great terrain—still a skier’s mountain,” says one. It’s easy to get to (No. 9 for Travel Ease), avoiding much of the soul-sucking traffic on I-70, and boasts free parking. It’s sleepy on nightlife (No. 20), but with 3,081 skiable acres to explore in the morning, that suits most real skiers just fine. — Kimberly Beekman
2021 Reader Resort Rankings for Winter Park: No. 17 in the West
- WHAT’S NEW: A new uphill touring program that includes guides and gear debuts this winter, plus look for Ice Bumper Cars on the Village pond.
- FAMILY EXPERIENCE: Take a sunset snowcat tour to Vasquez Ridge for firepit S’mores and hot chocolate.
- BEST VALUE: Ikon and Winter Park Pass Holders can get a Five Buck Huck—a $5 breakfast burrito—at the Mary Jane base area.
Check out No. 18 in the West: Arapahoe Basin, Colo.
Wondering who beat Winter Park for No. 16? Read about Banff Sunshine, Alta.
Winter Park Resort’s 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 14th in the West
Winter Park has been slowly shifting from the local’s mountain to a true destination resort, and after its debut on the Ikon Pass last year, it seems that one of the Front Range’s best-kept secrets is out. Yet despite its recent surge in popularity, Winter Park remains very much a skier’s mountain. Seven distinct terrain “territories” offer up impeccable glade skiing, wide-open cruisers, terrain parks, abundant race gates, steeps, world-class mogul runs, and more. The terrain variety and lift placement makes it ideal for skiers of all abilities, especially for families, as one reader notes: “We can all ski together and meet at the same lift without pushing the intermediate skiers out of their comfort zone.”
But don’t be fooled into thinking that Winter Park is only for Front Range families. The Mary Jane mountain and Cirque territory are properly steep and rowdy, ensuring expert skiers get their fill of chutes, bumps, and big air.
While some readers disapprove of the large stream of newcomers brought on by the Ikon Pass and a banger snow year, others keenly cited positive impact from recent lift improvements. Last season’s installation of the new Zephyr Gondola helped dissipate crowds from the previously congested base area, and this season will see a replacement for the aged Sunnyside lift with a high-speed six-pack to alleviate wait times on the backside. Readers also lauded ease of travel to the resort, citing both its proximity to Denver and the Amtrak ski train that drops riders off just a few hundred feet from the lift lines. “Best real skiing without paying for unneeded bells and whistles.” — Stephen Sebestyen
- BRAGGING RIGHTS: Find your way to the Cirque Territory for steep headwalls and chutes that funnel into high-angle glades. Getting to the Cirque is a trek, but the mountain views and the adrenaline-inducing lines are worth the venture.
- APRÈS-SKI: Fraser Valley Distilling opened last season with two stills; the gin, made with locally sourced juniper, is not to be missed.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Winter Park Resort, Colo.
This Front Range mountain has the distinction of being both a local’s hill and a destination resort, though recent and impending upgrades—including the return of the Winter Park Express from Denver’s Union Station and a 10-person gondola replacing the Zephyr Mountain Express—nudge it slightly over to the destination column. Regardless of where they’re coming from, skiers love Winter Park for its high-alpine Parsenn Bowl terrain, the glades and hidden powder stashes in Vasquez Ridge, and, of course, Mary Jane’s legendary moguls, all less than 70 miles from Denver’s airport.
Read More: The Rail World
Variety is the name of the game for this gem tucked at the base of Berthoud Pass in the Colorado Rockies. Comprised of two main peaks, Winter Park and Mary Jane, the resort features “lots of family-and kid-friendly groomed terrain, while still having plenty of great challenging terrain for the more advanced skiers to sneak off to for a while.”
On the Winter Park side, fall line options, accessibility, and ski school make Winter Park very kid-friendly while providing more challenging options for advanced skiers. Hop another lift to get to Mary Jane and explore some of the best bumps in Colorado, plentiful tree runs, and the hike-accessed Cirque territory.
Come to Winter Park For The…
- On-Mountain Eats Lunch Rock, at the top of Mary Jane, serves up delicious bites with stellar mountain views. Pair the Ratatouille Pizza with the Mary Jane Ale and enjoy the views out on the expansive patio.
- Bragging Rights Ditch the crowds and head over to the Eagle Wind lift, where you can test your legs skiing Thunderbird top to bottom without stopping. Bumps, bumps, and more bumps!
- Family Activity Thursdays are Kids Night Out at Winter Park. Drop the little tykes off to enjoy fun activities and snacks while parents can have a date night in the village.