The Denver-to-Winter Park ski train has become more than just a nod to the past: It's now a viable transportation option for Denverites headed to the hills.
As has been for the last quarter century, the 2018 Colorado Ski and Snowboard Expo will tempt, tease and entice skiers and snowboarders with sales, ticket and lodging deals, resort hype and entertainment.
A sure sign that ski and snowboard season is just around the corner comes when resort promoters, equipment reps and retailers head to big cities across the country for preseason ski and snowboard shows.
A lack of space at Winter Park has forced the 79-year-old Eskimo Ski Club to cease a program that has brought thousands of Denver-area youngsters onto the slopes of the Colorado mountain.
Flyin' high over city of Denver. (Ruby Hill Railyard/Facebook)
For the 12th year, the nation’s best-known urban terrain park has opened at Ruby Hill Park in downtown Denver.
High-flyin' fun at ski and snowboard expo. (Colo. Ski & Snowboard Expo photo)
A sure sign that winter is just around the corner comes when the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo opens its doors in downtown Denver.
Up to 500 skiers and riders can hop on the revitalized Winter Park Express. (Winter Park Resort)
After being sidetracked for seven years, the famed Winter Park Express is back on the main line to ferry skiers and snowboarders to and from Winter Park Resort.
The maiden voyage from Denver’s Union Station to the base area of the resort on Jan. 7 is already sold out, but tickets are available for round trips on Saturdays and Sundays through March 26 – with extra trips on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day.
The strong demand for tickets to ride a train rather than fight traffic on I-70 and over Berthoud Pass prompted railroad officials to add another car. Capacity is about 500 riders.
It takes two diesel-electric locomotives to make the 60-mile trip that gains 3,700 feet in altitude – a trip that has two dozen tunnels including the final 6.2 miles through the venerable Moffat Tunnel.
“When it comes to the service itself, the fact that Amtrak has added more capacity reinforces what we’ve known all along that Colorado loves this train,” Winter Park’s Steve Hurlburt told SnoCounty.com.
The ski train, which first ran in 1944 and ceased in 2009, takes off from downtown Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrives at the slopes at 9 a.m. After a day of skiing and riding on the slopes, the train leaves the Winter Park platform at 4:30 p.m. for the two-hour ride back down to Denver.
Right now, the cheapest ticket is $39, with higher-priced billets for refundable or discounts programs. Upgrades to first class are also available.
Colorado tourism and Winter Park officials see the rebirth of the ski train as another way to set skiing and riding in the Centennial State apart from others.
“What makes it even more exciting is with the new RTD A Line from Denver International Airport to Denver Union Station, visitors from throughout the country and around the globe can now access Colorado skiing without ever worrying about renting a car, sitting in traffic, or navigating sometimes treacherous mountain roads,” Hurlburt told us. “This option of going from plane to ski slopes via rail is completely unique to Winter Park in the United States.”
Over the past nine years, thousands of kids and adults in the Denver area -- and a few with layovers in the Colorado city -- have only to go to a metro park to get their shreddin’ jones satisfied. This season is no exception.