THE JOURNEY TO WINTER PARK
26th February 2018 | James Cove, Denver to Winter Park
Last modified on November 10th, 2021
If there is a better way to arrive in a ski resort then we can’t think of one. By train from Denver to the Colorado ski resort of Winter Park. NEW
The final leg of the journey to a ski resort in North America is usually far from pleasant.
First there is the jet lag as you need to put your watch back anywhere between 7 and 9 hours.
If you have picked up a hire car then staying awake can be difficult and a long transfer as you try to stay awake to get over the time difference is far from ideal.
But the journey to Winter Park via Denver is a treat.
I have been on a week-long ski road trip in Idaho.
As I arrived at Denver Airport I didn’t have the jet lag as I arrived via an internal flight from Spokane in Idaho.
See here for a summary of Idaho road trip:
The best way is to get into the city of Denver is the train from the airport to Union Station – $9 per ticket.
And then to stay at The Crawford Hotel that is at the station itself.
Dinner and drinks in the old booking hall are a treat.
No frantic rush to the resort, rather a leisurely evening to enjoy a proper US arrival.
Denver is known as the Mile-High city as it sits at an elevation of 1,600m, so the first night also prepares you for the high altitude at Winter Park that lies at around 3,000m.
A night (or even two) to get acclimatised is well worth it in my opinion.
The next day at 7.00AM the Winter Park train leaves and the following 2-hours is quiet simply one of the great ski rail journeys.
Skiers rush through the hotel heading to the train.
Locals flood in as the I-70 road to the ski areas is usually a monster traffic jam in places at the weekend as all the main Colorado resorts lie along its route – Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Copper, A-Basin, Loveland and Keystone, to name just a few.
The train can take up to 500 people and a single ticket costs $39.
“We’re thrilled to get you off the I-70 and onto the tracks,” said the Amtrak guard.
The service was re-introduced last winter after an 8-year gap and PlanetSKI’s Jane Peel took the service:
As the train pulls out the city disappears into the distance and the mountains beckon.
There are 28 tunnels on route and the final one, the Moffat Tunnel, is 6.2 miles long.
It reaches a height of 9,220 ft (2,810m) – the highest point on the whole of the US rail network.
The train snakes up the foothills of The Rockies.
With spectacular views along the way.
It passes the Gross Dam that was built in 1954 and provides 40% of the drinking water for Denver’s 700, 000 population.
And then 2-hours later just before 9.00AM we arrive in Winter Park.
The lifts are a couple of minutes away.
I could have stayed on the train for another 2-hours.
If there is a better way to arrive in a ski resort I can’t think of one.
And I have been to a few.
OK arriving in Zermatt and a few of the oher Swiss rail resort journeys come close, but the journey to Winter Park by train is a new one for me so has an exciting edge to it.
In Winter Park people have been telling me how Denver has one of the fastest population growth of any city and is one of the great up and coming US cities.
I have flown in and out of it so many times I have lost count, but never stayed before.
Perhaps I’ll have another night on the way back to see what all the fuss is about.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
The Winter Park Express runs from Denver Union Station to the resort every Saturday and Sunday morning, with return trips on both days. Prices are from $39 one-way.
For more information on Winter Park, visit the resort website.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.
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