Winter Park Ski Resort: Why it’s Known as “No Pain, No Jane”

Two sides, 360-degree views, craft beer, and even a now-famous run known as the Drunken Frenchman, Winter Park Ski Resort in the high mountains of Colorado has, quite literally, everything you could ever want in a ski destination vacation. Backcountry-style ridges, powder bowls you can seemingly get lost in, and over 3000 acres of pure Colorado bliss will show why Winter Park is world-famous.

Read on if you’re dying to know more about the experiences Winter Park resort can offer.

Ski lifts at Winter Park.
Ski lifts at Winter Park Ski Resort. Photo Credit: Bryon & Olivia (Flickr CC)

Where is Winter Park Located?

Winter Park Ski Resort is easily one of the closest ski resorts to the city of Denver, Colorado. Sitting only an hour and a half away on road US-40 west right off I-70 west. It’s roughly 66 miles from downtown or 90 miles from Denver International Airport if you are flying in from out of state.

Sadly, DIA would be the closest airport to Winter Park resort, however, Amtrak does run a train line from Union Station to Winter Park if you don’t feel up to the mountain driving.

A Breakdown of The Runs and Trails at Winter Park Ski Resort

First opening in 1940, the founders of Winter Park Resort had a simple dream. Make a ski hill where people from far and wide come to experience what Colorado skiing has to offer. A handful of people with enough guts, a rope tow, and barely any trails had the metaphorical crystal ball to look into the future, and see what Winter Park would grow up to be.

Winter Park ski resort is something out of a skier’s or rider’s dreams. It boasts 6 different regions and a full terrain park on the mountain. The resort has some of the steepest chutes in North America, one massive unforgettable bowl, and enough beginner runs to satisfy the whole family or some of the less experienced skiers and riders.

These runs will quite literally leave you breathless with a peak elevation of over 12,000 feet (3,600 meters)! You have the option to rip world-famous mogul runs, take long cruising blues, and go tree-bashing all in one day. Here’s what to expect at Winter Park resort.

  • 7 unique Regions:
    Winter Park, Mary Jane, including Parsenn Bowl, Vasquez Ridge, Eagle Wind, Terrain Park, and The Cirque.
  • 166 trails
  • 23 lifts
  • Skiable Area: 3,081 Acres (12.46 Km2)
  • Base Elevation: 9,000 Feet (2,743 Meters)
  • Tallest Summit: 12,060 Feet (3,676 Meters) Top of the Parsenn Bowl
  • Longest Run: Village Way at 4.9 miles (7.9 Km)

Lodging Options

Ski-in, ski-out. It’s rather simple when looking for the perfect lodging for your next ski or snowboard getaway. Thankfully, Winter Park ski resort has more ski-in, ski-out options than you could shake a stick at. You can find exactly the style of lodging that suits your family, friend group, or even just yourself if a solo vacation is in store for you.

On the Parkside as the locals say, you can find end-high lodges, family-friendly condos, or laid-back hotels.

If staying on the base doesn’t suit your fancy and you want to see more of the town of Winter Park itself, or just plan on staying for the season, the town will have even more condos and long-term townhomes to fit almost any budget or time frame.

For the more budget-minded skier or rider, the nearby town of Fraser will have more affordable options. While there seem to be a billion options to choose from, here are some honorable mentions to get you started.

  • Zephyr Mountain Lodge (Winter Park ski resort base)
  • Perry Peak Lofts (Winter Park ski resort base)
  • Arrow Townhomes (Town of Winter Park)
  • Rendezvous (Town of Fraser)

Is There Night-Skiing?

Trails at Winter Park Resort.
Trails at Winter Park Resort. Photo Credit: Heath Alseike (Flickr CC)

Not exactly. The Winter Park ski resort lifts run from 9 am to 4 pm on the weekdays and 8:30 am to 4 pm on the weekends. However, the resort does offer a headlamp-guided ski-biking tour for the more adventurous of the people out there.

Is There Cross-Country Skiing?

Yes! Winter Park has some of the best Nordic skiing North America has to offer. The Devil’s Thumb Ranch has over 120 km (74.5 miles) of trails, a full-service gear shop, and a ski school for everyone to enjoy.

What kind of Rental and Gear Shops does Winter Park Have?

Winter Park ski resort is frankly far too big to not have the best gear available for rental. It only makes sense that the resort would have its own gear shop to suit every need and with online booking and pre-setting, you’ll be on the slopes faster than ever.

However, if you want to get your own gear, the village will have some of the best local and corporate shops. Check these out first while you figure out if you want to go with red or white skis.

  • Showcase Snowboards
  • Ski Exchange
  • Mountain Adventure Center

Important Information About Winter Park Trails

On ski trails
Skiing at Winter Park. Photo Credit: Chris Favero (Flickr CC)

At over 3000 acres, you can easily have the time of your life, and just as easily get totally lost. Winter Park ski resort has perfectly simple and easy groomers for beginners but also has some of the steepest chutes in the Rockies. It is recommended to pick up a ski area map before setting off and up the hill.

That being said, you’ll find decades-old mogul runs, steep and narrow chutes, a massive powder bowl, and of course, easy cool-down trails on the Winter Park side of the mountain. Do be aware, there’s a reason that the locals say, “no pain, no jane” in regards to the Mary Jane side of Winter Park.

Activities for Non-Skier and Riders

Some ski resorts in Colorado are built and used for one thing and one thing only: The best skiing and riding the Rocky Mountains have to offer. However, for the non-skiers and riders, this can cause a few issues to say the least. This is where Winter Park ski resort steps in. With over one hundred other options to choose from, you could never step foot on the ski slopes and still have the time of your life.

Winter Park has some of Colorado’s best craft beer, amazing restaurants, ranging from the high-end to full-on dives. The resort offers heated snow-cat tours to see what makes the Colorado mountains the magical place that they are. They have ice-skating, ice-hockey, a chance to meet the pups-in-training for the canine division of ski patrol, tubing, spas, and much, much more.

Here’s a General Breakdown of the Trails at Winter Park

Riding the lifts at Winter Park.
Riding the lifts at Winter Park. Photo Credit: Julie Kuhrt (Flickr CC)

Winter Park is made for people who can ride. While there is terrain for all levels, it favors people who are intermediate to advanced. Here’s the break out of terrain-

  • 3,081 Acres are split into 166 trails with some undefined runs in, in-bounds backcountry
  • 8% Beginner
  • 18% Intermediate
  • 19% Advanced
  • 52% Most Difficult
  • 3% Expert

Does Winter Park Make Their own Snow?

Yes, Winter Park will make their own snow as long as water limits will allow and if natural snow conditions are unfavorable.

When is The Best Time to Go?

As a general note, winter in Colorado can be sometimes a touch unpredictable. However, the best snow conditions at Winter Park ski resort will be mid-January to late February. If you want to avoid the crowds avoid the big holidays and if possible, the weekends.

Most Denverites will choose Winter Park as their local resort due to its proximity to Denver. Always check Winter Park’s live-stream snow cam to get a better idea of the snowpack and people.

Closing Thoughts

Winter Park Ski resort is top-rated in the world for a reason. Well, several reasons. It doesn’t matter if you can ski the french alps or you’ve never even seen snow before. Winter Park Colorado welcomes all levels, people, and even the non-skiers with open, powder-filled arms.

Been to Winter Park Colorado before? Let us know in the comments below!

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