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Winter Park: It’s A Lot More Than Just Bump Skiing

Story by Max Ritter

Winter Park is a diamond in the rough, waiting to be re-discovered time and again. 

Among the world-class skiing, mountain biking, and cozy small-town vibes, the best part of Winter Park might be its location – it’s not in Summit County. 60 miles from Denver, it’s actually one of the closest resorts to the hustle and bustle of the Front Range, but it feels like a sleepy mountain town tucked much further into the Rockies. With some of the deepest snow totals in the state, 3000 acres of terrain that include the legendary trees of Mary Jane, and access to endless acres of incredible backcountry terrain on the flanks of Berthoud Pass, Winter Park is a diamond in the rough, waiting to be re-discovered time and again.

A Snowy Paradise

Winter Park Resort is truly a mountain for the people. Split between the steep bumps and trees of Mary Jane, and the endless groomers and freestyle terrain on the Winter Park side, the mountain features 167 runs, 25 chairlifts, and 370 annual inches of blower pow. Locals love to take advantage of a generous uphill access policy, earning their turns before the resort opens for the day to milk face shots before the rest of us even make it to breakfast. It’s that kind of go-getter attitude that makes a place like this tick – it might seem a little sleepy, but the locals are out there getting it done.

Soaking in the views of the Continental Divide from the top. Winter Park photos.

Raised in Winter Park, local ripper Ryndi Zastrow clocks many of her best runs before the lifts start turning. Once the lifts start spinning and it’s dumping, her advice is to head into the trees at Mary Jane and rip some steep laps through classic runs like Hole in the Wall or Trestle Trees. This is a sure bet to find fresh tracks on a deep day, and the place to get a real leg burn going in the infamous bumps of the Jane. If the sun is shining, go for a hike or a sled bump in the high-alpine Cirque Territory – the closest thing to big-mountain backcountry terrain you’ll find inbounds in Colorado. For mellow groomers, Zastrow loves ripping top-to-bottom laps off the Winter Park Gondola.

Even though Winter Park is only an hour and a half from Denver, untracked turns like these are a normal occurrence. Winter Park photo.

When it comes time for a break, head back up for a mid-day meal at the Sunspot Lodge. Located atop Winter Park Mountain, Sunspot offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains on the Continental Divide with both upscale dining options for lunch and dinner and casual on-mountain food at the Provisioner. After a few more afternoon laps, when it comes time for après, Zastrow makes sure to never miss hanging out at the base’s Derailer Bar – always complete with live music and free-flowing good times.

Whether it's hanging out at the bustling base area, or meeting up with friends at the Derailer bar during après hour, there's always something going on here. Winter Park photos.