The Return of the Winter Park Express

The historic ski train is back this season for 26 traffic-evading weekends. And it's just the ticket.
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The inaugural ride of the Winter Park Express pulls out of Denver’s Union Station tomorrow morning (Sat., Jan. 7), marking the official return of the beloved train after a seven-year hiatus. (The train moonlighted for two sold-out day trips last season, largely considered the litmus test for both skier interest and operational feasibility.) The two-hour ride gives Front Range weekend warriors the chance to put their feet up and enjoy the scenery—and take a welcome pass on I-70 and US 40 traffic.

Winter Park Express Returns

Winter Park Express returns for the 2016-17 ski season.

Over 26 weekends, plus two holiday Mondays, the train will offer round-trip service complete with beverages and munchies for sale and a special car for equipment. Morning trains leave Union Station at 7 and arrive in Winter Park at 9. Afternoon trains leave the resort at 4:30 and glide into Denver at 6:40. The final weekend to ride is March 25-26. Weekends are booking quickly; fares start at $39 each way and go as high as $59. Children 12 and under pay half when traveling with an adult. Find your ride here.

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15. Winter Park, CO

Winter Park

Mary Jane—named for a mining-era lady of the night—and its sister area, Winter Park, offer plenty of prospects for good skiing, including bumps and powder-filled bowls. Forming one of the closest major resorts to Denver, the two areas spread across five mountains and 3,078 acres. Add 3,060 feet of vertical, 30 feet of snowfall, and a direct train from Denver and it’s no wonder why the Front Range packs the place on Saturdays.

Contrary to popular belief, even on a completely bluebird day in January atop the highest lift in Vail, you’re not getting vitamin D from the sun. Vail, or any other ski hill in North America for that matter, is too far above the equator to receive the type of direct sunlight needed to create vitamin D during the winter months. Which is a bummer because this recently popular “sunshine vitamin” plays a key role in boosting the immune system. In particular, it triggers and arms the body's T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. Last year, scientists at the University of Copenhagen discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses, and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. Vitamin D can be obtained through the diet, though very few foods naturally contain it. The foods that do include fatty fish, fish liver oil, and eggs. Smaller amounts are found in meat and cheese. A person’s vitamin D status is determined by measuring the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in blood serum.  Current lab ranges are 30-80 ng/mL, though most functional healthcare practitioners recommend levels be at least 50 ng/mL - even higher in some cases. Though the RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU/day of vitamin D, most health experts are suggesting closer to 5,000 IU/day for optimal immune function. So to up your chances of not getting sidelined by a cold or flu this ski season, be sure to follow these three guidelines. That way you can spend your “sick days” skiing.  

Inside Line: Mary Jane & Winter Park

Mary Jane—named for a mining-era lady of the night—and its sister area, Winter Park, offer plenty of prospects for good skiing, including bumps and powder-filled bowls. Forming one of the closest major resorts to Denver, the two areas spread across five mountains and 3,078 acres. Add 3,060 feet of vertical, 30 feet of snowfall, and a direct train from Denver and it’s no wonder why the Front Range packs the place on Saturdays.

Return of the Sun

America’s first winter resort built its reputation on unsurpassed opulence. Nearly three quarters of a century later, visitors still indulge in Sun Valley’s luxuries, but now it’s the area’s peaceful simplicity that locals and a shrewd owner are so keen to protect.