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Plainning a trip to Winterpark Co

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I am planning a ski trip to Winterpark this December. The main reason I am going to Winterpark is because the Amtrak train stops at the resort. (I really don't want to fly) I am also looking to stay in a ski-in ski-out condo. My time frame in December is before Christmas. If any of you bears have any helpfull input on my planning or any reccomendations, please let me know. I have never been out to Colorado before and I am very excited to go.
post #2 of 20
Good on ya, dude. We'll look forward to a TR

They've built a bunch of new condos at the base of the mountain so getting something there might not be too hard especially before xmas. If you're looking for ski in/out I think your only options are the Iron Horse or the Zypher Mtn Lodge.

Just want to be sure you know that Amtrak doesn't actually stop at the mountain. It goes right past the lifts but doesn't stop for another ten miles or so in Fraser. The free bus service stops at the train station and if you end up staying at one of the 'premium' inns be sure to call them ahead of time and arrange to have a shuttle there waiting for you.
post #3 of 20
Speaking of trains...

Has anyone here ever taken the #5 California Zephyr (Amtrak) from
Chicago to Fraser (Winter Park)?

Looks kinda interesting...$212...leave Chicago @ 2pm and arrive
ready to ski @ 10am the next morning. Nothing to do but eat, drink and sleep
post #4 of 20
I've taken that train plenty of times. It can be fun. Sleeping is the trick unless you get a private bunk.

The west bound Zephyr is usually on time or pretty close but once you get from the train to your accommodations then to the mountain it's tough to get first turns much before noon.

Any specific questions?
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post
Nothing to do but eat, drink and sleep
Sounds like any non-ski day...
post #6 of 20
Now THAT would be an EPIC bear road trip

Guaranteed to be to tired to ski by the time the train rolled in


BF, do they let you take a good amout of gear onboard without
penalty?
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post
BF, do they let you take a good amout of gear onboard without penalty?
Yeah they've always been pretty lenient. I haven't taken it in awhile so check their site to see what the official limit is.

Truth is the few times I've taken the Zephyr solo, my gear was already in WP. Most of my train trips were with a group of 20-30 heavy packers and there was no problem. They just gave us one of the old smoking lounges or an unused passenger compartment and we piled in all of our gear. Compared to plane travel it's way way casual.

We took plenty of food and booze. Lots of times I took along a few large chef knives.... no worries. I have heard of drug sniffing dogs on Amtrak trains but I never saw or heard of one on the Zephyr.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post
I have heard of drug sniffing dogs on Amtrak trains but I never saw or heard of one on the Zephyr.
Yea, I'm sure that's something you really worry about.


My MIL took the AMTRAK a couple times to vacation with my SIL and family. They always have good luck from Kalamazoo to Fraser, but always have delays coming back home.

They swear by train travel, though they have tons of time, being retired.

Since the OP is Anakedman, I'm wondering what the dress code is on AMTRAK
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
Yea, I'm sure that's something you really worry about.
Well like I said, I did most of my train travel with a group.... guess I forgot to say that they were mostly college students
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
How is the snow going to be in mid December? The girlfriend (Anakedwoman) and I are pretty excited to eat drink and sleep on the train (I never thought of doing that). She is nervous of skiing powder. I told her that it will be a learning process for both of us. I didn't see anything about dress code on the amtrak website.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anakedman View Post
How is the snow going to be in mid December? The girlfriend (Anakedwoman) and I are pretty excited to eat drink and sleep on the train (I never thought of doing that). She is nervous of skiing powder. I told her that it will be a learning process for both of us. I didn't see anything about dress code on the amtrak website.
I think Winterpark should be great skiing at that time. Also, I would think that it would be easy to pick up a short lesson, if you/she has trouble with snow conditions.
You will have a great time!
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Would I be able to take a cooler with food and maybe some refreshing drinks onto the train?
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anakedman View Post
Would I be able to take a cooler with food and maybe some refreshing drinks onto the train?
I'd check with Amtrak to be sure.... but I think bringing food is fine but alcohol is forbidden unless you buy it on the train or have a sleeper. Discretion, however, goes a long way on the train.
post #14 of 20
Second that return trip delay.

I only did it once, a loooong time ago. The delay coming back east was a MASSIVE 5-6 hours!!!
post #15 of 20
In my experience 5-6 hours is not massive, just a tad longer than average.

If you take the Zephyr, avoid the frustration and be prepared for this. Don't schedule any 'must do' tasks on your first day home. The Crooked Creek bar/restaurant is fairly near the train station and they're usually real cool about letting stranded train passengers hang there.

If the Zephyr is on time getting to Chicago there is very little time to make the train that takes me home. In all the times I've taken the east bound Zephyr (maybe a dozen?) I've made that train twice. When I've missed it there's always a long wait... hour or two... in Chicago while Amtrak decides how they're going to handle the situation. Usually they call some sort of bus and drive us the rest of the way, getting us home 2, 3, 4 in the morning. Twice they've decided to house us in Chicago. They get us a pretty nice hotel room, cab fare to and from the station and cash for dinner then put us on a morning train.
post #16 of 20
You must have a lot more patience than me (well, you do).

Had I "expected" the delay, it probably wouldn't have felt so bad. I was stuck at the station with nothing to eat nor drink... it's a looong 5-6 hours!
post #17 of 20
Haven't taken the Zephyr per se, but took the 'ski train' out of Denver and it let us off about 100 yards from the lifts.
post #18 of 20
I was going to mention the ski train that stops right at the base. MAybe you can make connections from AMTRAK in Denver; you would have to check that. I have stayed at slope-side and also in the town of winter park. You can pretty much walk in your boots to the bus stop (if you really want to) and the bus is really regular and drops you off right near the slopes. A good alternative if you find slope-side a bit rich for your blood. I did it with my 2 kids and they really enjoyed the town. I'm sure you could arrange a shuttle or taxi from Fraser if the AMTRAK station is the only option. Sounds like a fun trip!
post #19 of 20
I took the AMTRAK from MTP Iowa last yr w/2 buds. as mentioned one can catch a free bus to the slopes. We had no issue hauling all our gear onto the train. While i of course would never haul my own alcohol , i will agree that discretion (and some folks had little) seemed to rule. The ride out is scheduled to arrive at 10am WTP but ran late ~1/2 hr. typical from the east is 1/2 to 2 hrs late and we got to the slopes by 12:30 or 1pm for 3-4 hrs of slopes. coming back is more random as the return train is often held up for freight trains in the SLC area. This AMTRAK route uses the Union Pacific (i think) line and is second in priority to freight. I enjoyed the trip as for me, the train leaves my Iowa station at 6pm for an overnight ride. return is 5pm from WP with a noon next day. this allowed our group to do a 1/2 day, then 2 full days missing only one day of work. AAA offers discounts of around 10%. if you got the spare cash, then a double sleeper would run (March 08) another $150 each way (but one can do it only one way if wanted) which translates to $75 per person. it includes some meals .. so it isn't too bad a hit. The standard coach has pretty big seats, bigger than 1st class air travel seats and they recline pretty good. My insurance man recommended taking a small blanket ... which is good advice.

I would consider a mid dec journey out if you should decide a date.

The only thing that would make my decision easier is if anyone would know if you really have to be present to by a season pass at WP? I'd love to get the season pass with 6/days at Steamboat, me and family travel for 7 nights to the boat and this would work out great.
post #20 of 20
The Vintage hotel looks to be a nice less expensive option near the slopes. It's not ski on ski off but there is a new cabriolet lift this year from the Vintage to the main base, so you wouldn't have to take a shuttle. Condos and hotels in the Vintage look to be value priced on Expedia right now.
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