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Winter Park -

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm wondering if Winter Park will be a good choice for this years vacation.

I've been to Utah 4 times in 6 years and never to Colorado.  All guys - advanced or better skiers. 

Is Winter Park big enough to keep interest for 5 days?  Any areas within a 30-60 minute drive? 

I've been wanting to get to Colorado.  I've got a good price for a stay at Zephyr inn.  I would hate to bypass another area for a few hundred $$ and then regret the decision.



Any opinions or advice?


post #2 of 10
My answer would be completely biased.

What terrain are you looking to hit up and when? 

There isn't really anything else within an hour's drive but there is in 1.5 hour.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Definately prefer challenging steeps.  Like tree skiing.  Love powder. No big crowds. 

My favorite resort is Alta - I know it can get crowded, but I love the place.

I live out east (NY) and only get about 10-12 days a year.
post #4 of 10
I've lived in and skied the Colorado front range for over 20 years and ski 50+ days. From my experience consider the following:
  • The Mary Jane side of Winter Park is great for steep bumps and tight tree skiing. The best trees are the unmarked areas between black bump runs on Mary Jane. Ask around when you get there. Excellent trees also off the Eagle Ridge chair. If you don't like steep bumps or tight steep trees then you should consider another resort. All colorado front range resorts have big crowds on weekends. The chairs serving steep terrain are usually still tolerable then.
  • A-Basin, Copper, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Loveland are all within an easy 1.5 hrs of Winter Park. You may want to consider a side trip to one or more of these. A-basin in particular has great steeps and bumps. Loveland gets the most snow (400in) in CO next to Wolf Creek.
  • Steamboat has the best tree skiing but not a lot of really steep terrain. 100mi from Winter Park, ~2hrs. One of my favorite overnight destinations. I usually spend most of the day in the trees in Shadows, Closet and between the _o'clock runs. Some good bump runs also.
  • Telluride has great bumps and steeps and may be the ticket if this is an El Nino year.  I plan on a trip there this year. If this is an El Nino year the front range resorts will be best late season in March and April. The Aspen area resorts may fare better than the front range in an El Nino year but I don't have any experience with those resorts.
  • On average Colorado powder is as dry as Utah. Utah just gets more good dumps so the overall powder experience in Utah is better. (This statement is based on real data from a meterological journal comparing water content.) 
post #5 of 10
And now there's Powder Addiction. Cat skiing from a center at WP base.

Powder Addiction

There is hike to terrain at the Cirque also. Above treeline bowl that dumps into tight tree runout.

Eagle Wind chair has wonderful steep tree skiing

The new six pack on Parsenn Bowl has easy intermediate tree skiing.

What rcahill said about the trees between runs at MJ I wouldn't want to blab or take the fun out of exploring. Not just the black runs. if you hug skier's left of sleeper, you can duck into nice trees there.

There was some wonderful POV  tree skiing at MJ posted here but i have never been able to get the search engine here to be of much use and cannot find it.Maybe someone else will remember and find it for you. I think it was on Vimeo, so you could do a search there of Winter Park Tree skiing and see what comes up.
post #6 of 10
My response is biased. I have skied literally hundreds of days at Winter Park because I was a volunteer with NSCD, etc. for many years. I now go back every couple of years to clinic and visit friends, so my perspective is not the same as it used to be.

Rcahill's information is essentially correct. Some of the "steep trees" have gotten more open because they've been thinning out beatle kill in the summers. Since I now only see it for a few days every couple of years, I really notice this. It's gotten easier to ski, but now more people go in those places.

There are still truly tight steep trees available, though. I won't tell you anything about location. Don't go alone, and don't go in unless there is a claimed base of at least 80 inches. There are deadfalls and other hazards that are not adequately covered with a 50" base that can do a lot of damage, even to profoundly experienced skiers.

MJ is known for bumps, of course. If you don't like bumps, much of MJ will leave you unimpressed. If you do like bumps, you can stay happy there for a very long time.

Winter Park has lots of cruising, and, on weekends, lots of cruisers. Cranmer should be avoided. Sleeper on the MJ side seemed to be popular with people who didn't ski nearly as well as they thought they did. Too many of them ski too fast with inadequate skills for actually stopping or changing direction at that speed. True of moderately steep groomed runs everywhere, I suppose. (Sleeper at Whitewater, on the other hand, has a small face of boulders with some trees and other, um, "features" that work to create a 60-degree drop for about 20 or 30 feet, with a few cheater lines through it. Keeps the riff-raff out.)

Winter Park also had a very nice terrain park, complete with a good-sized half-pipe. I assume they still have it.

The Zephyr is definitely a budget operation. It is sometimes crowded with young people who stuff extra unregistered friends into their rooms. The bus route is very convenient. If you get a pair of Cat Tracks, you can put your boots on in your room before you stroll down to catch the bus.

Winter Park has limited night life. There are several decent restaurants. Some have been there for a long time (Deno's, Hernando's), and some locations seem to turn over with great regularity. Hernando's moved a few years ago, but it's the same management and menu, AFIK. Smokin' Moe's in Cooper Creek Square used to have good ribs and tablecloths off of a big roll of brown craft paper. Fontenot's was known for good Cajun.

If you want more of a town, Steamboat and Breckenridge may be good choices. I've always liked Steamboat, summer or winter. It's two hours from Winter Park in good weather.
post #7 of 10
Are you talking about Zephyr Mountain Lodge? It is not so cheap and it's right on mountain. perhaps there is another Zephyr Inn?
post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by Mom View Post

Are you talking about Zephyr Mountain Lodge? It is not so cheap and it's right on mountain. perhaps there is another Zephyr Inn?
You're right. I was thinking of the Viking...sorry.
post #9 of 10
Skiing Winter Park on Dec. 24, 25, and 26. Should I be concerned that as of today, they only have 22 trails open?
post #10 of 10
I skied there today.  Had a dusting on top of hardpack.  It was okay early,  but the WP side got skied off by 11.  MJ opened today, though only MJ Trail was open.  They opened one of the trails under the Pony Express briefly,  but we missed it

If they don't get one or two significant snows before Christmas,  I'd say you're going to get bored rather quickly.  With the pun fully intended... I'm in the same 'boat.... we're heading to Steamboat on the 20th,  and the snow isn't looking very exciting.

Pray for snow!

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