The Winter Park Express Kicks I-70 in the Teeth
Around 9am after round four of Hall & Oates’ You Make My Dreams, you might be thinking, “Damn, it’s time to get off I-70”.
If you live in Colorado or have ever been to Colorado, you know the feeling–waking up at the butt crack of dawn, making breakfast, teeming with energy, bumping tunes (Hall & Oates, please) in the car on the way to the mountains, can’t wait to ski, and BAM. Traffic. Blood curdling and mind blowing-ly s l o w t r a f f i c. I think one time I flipped off the guy next to me for no reason. It was irrational, I know, but traffic brings out the best in people, they say.
But good news! Put the birds back in the holster because Amtrak has reached back in time to bring back the once popular ski train with round-trip service from Denver to Winter Park Ski Resort. The original service ran for a prodigious 69 years from 1940 to 2009 and is often cited as sparking folks’ interest in skiing. Over time, however, patronage consistently declined until the Ski Train had to permanently shut its doors.
When a couple current Amtrak employees who rode the Ski Train in college presented to Amtrak and Winter Park the idea of bringing the service back, both organizations jumped on board. First there was a pilot run in March that sold out in hours. Then, when brought full steam ahead this season, the train has blown expectations out of the water.
To date this season, the Winter Park Express has delivered more than 15,000 skiers and snowboarders to Winter Park’s Gemini Express chair lift just steps away from the train’s doors–the only service to do so in the US. For those who ride the train, convenience in the name of the game.
Not only does the train drop of you off in front of the lift, you also will never have to worry about traffic. The drive from Denver to Winter Park in traffic can take upwards of 3.5 hours, but even when all hell is breaking loose on I-70 because it’s a powder day on a Saturday, the train stays a consistent two hours. On top of that, you’ll never have to worry about sliding off the road. Hooray!
As for logistics, tickets start at $39 one way. The train picks up at Denver’s Union Station at 7am sharp and arrives at Winter Park Resort at 9am. To leave, just hop on the same train a 4:30 and plan on being in Denver at 6:30. Trying to leave any resort near I-70 that late is dreadful. Luckily now you can take your time. Oh, and don’t worry about renting a locker at the resort for your street clothes either. They’re locked and safe on the train while you ski.
So if you don’t have a car or want to avoid the interstate nightmare, this train might be a good option for you. If you’re coming from out of town, especially take a look at this option. Take my word for it that you do NOT want to drive up the hill on the weekends. This train is a much safer bet and you’ll get to keep your hair. All aboard!
To book your trip, click here!
A car pool of 4 people spending $312 on round trip train tickets (plus train tickets/parking to get to Union Station) doesn’t make a lot of economic sense of the course of a season for people who are locals. At that rate, it’s cheaper to rent out a cabin for the season for a group of dedicated skiers/boarders. Or live by the adage, go early (before 6 AM) and leave early (before 2 PM)…. or go late (after 10 AM) and leave late (after 7 PM). Until the train tickets + parking costs are equitable to the cost of carpooling, the Winter Park train is mostly useful to tourists… not locals.