This is a resort that
doesn't look as big as it is. But, the skiing spreads over four areas, including
the way-high Parsenn Bowl, where you feel like you're on top of the world at more
than 12,000 feet. Make sure to not ignore some of the green runs, like Mock Turtle,
lower White Rabbit and Switchyard, where you can often duck onto single-tracks
through the trees. See if you can ski all the runs with names from "Alice in Wonderland,"
and catch the railroad theme for the names on Mary Jane.
Look for the disabled skiers.
Winter Park has one of the largest and best disabled programs anywhere, and it's
neat to see the sit-skiers and others flying around all over the mountain. And,
by the way - it's very cool to stand on one of the front side runs and watch the
trains come through the tunnel.
Sanity's Sake: If you're
not staying at the base, use the skier drop-off area in front of the Zephyr Mountain
Lodge. You can grab a plastic sled or two and use them for carrying gear or kids
to the base lodge. Just leave the sled where you're finished with it, and it'll
be returned to the drop-off for you.
The Kids' programs offered through Adventure Junction Children's Center are very
popular. If you're thinking about buying a multi-day lesson package but are unsure,
go ahead and buy it. It's easier to get a refund for unused days than it is to
go through the registration process one day at a time.
It costs $10 to rent skis
through the Kids Program, a dollar or two more per day than at a ski shop in town.
But, rent them here and they'll store them for free right in the Kids Center.
The kids ski school programs can't be recommended highly enough. Few places do a better job. The free guided mountain tour is probably a worthwhile thing to do, particularly if you've never skied here. Watch out for the trail map - sometimes it's hard to tell which direction is downhill - especially, some runs that go from the Mary Jane peak to the Winter Park peak may look like they go the other way. The base lodge
food is decent, and it's not as over-priced as some resorts. The Sunnyside chair hides some nice intermediate glades if your kids like the trees.
to Ski: Everywhere.
Parsenn Bowl is a must, just for the wide-open view. Skiers' right up there can
lead to some nifty blue and blue-black trees, and skiers' left can take you to
some incredible double-blacks; but there's blue cruising from the top, too. Just
remember - this is 12,000-plus feet up, so it can get cold and windy up there.
Mary Jane is famous for
its rough-and-tumble bump and tree runs. Catch some rolling bumps and crannies
by skiing under the bottom of the Challenger Chair. The Mary Jane run is a wide
open, usually groomed, intermediate cruiser.
Several places present navigable bumps fields alongside groomed cruising. Our
favorite is the mogul field on Cranmer.
to Board: Parks and pipes have gained a higher priority this season at Winter Park, with more choices for riders of varied abilities. Rail Yard terrain park as new look and feel ,with bigger features, redesigned jumps and more progressive rails. A new Zaugg 420-foot Superpipe debuts on the face of Allan Phipps trail. No longer the small kid on the block, Jack Kendrick’s terrain park has expanded to encompass more features for curios novices and intermediates. And, the smallest and novice riders can learn basic tricks on the entry-level features of Discovery Park.
In truth, the entire place
- especially Mary Jane for advanced riders with its outrageous bumps and super
tree trails - can be considered a terrain park. Parsenn Bowl allows for wide open
cruising, and the intermediate-rated Mary Jane trail invites large, carved turns.
Want steeps and chutes?
Try far skiers' right off the Mary Jane Summit Express - they're called Hole-in-the-Wall,
Baldy's and Jeff's.
Programs:A "First Tracks" private
lesson can get you onto the hill a half-hour before the lifts open to the public.
The National Sports Center
for the Disabled offers one of the premier disabled ski/board programs in the
Child care is available for kids from two months to five years. With lunch, it costs $89.99/day or $69.79/half-day (no lunch). These prices include a pager for parents. You'll need to fill out a reservation form; get one from the Guest Contact Center; phone 800-729-7907.
- an Italian/pizza place is a must. They put honey squeeze-jars on the table;
you squeeze the honey onto your pizza crust for a built-in desert - kids love
it, and it's something we've never seen anywhere else.
Smokin' Moe's Ribhouse & Saloon and Wild
Creek are two favorite restaurants that offer children's menus. Snmokin' Moe's has a cowboy atmosphere, serving ribs and other barbecue choices; Wild Creek has
western decor, a bar and paper table cloths just perfect for crayons scribbling.
Try Carlo's and Marie's for Mexican.
On mountain, Snoasis Market is a happening spot, with outdoor barbecue and lots of outdoor seating. At the resort’s base, West Portal Station’s food court, now called Moffat Market, has been completely remodeled. Its new cuisine and decor reflect the different regions of the country that are well-known railroad centers; the storefronts and names identify the food stations, featuring options like New York-style pizza, Tex-Mex barbecue, Asian cuisine, etc. Kids will no doubt love the Moffat Tunnel Grill’s burgers and fries.
Zephyr Mountain Lodge is part of the
new base village. It's slopeside, offers accommodations up to three-bedrooms in
size, has an on-site hot tub complex and is very comfortable.
Park Mountain Lodge is comfortable, is across the road from the ski area, and has a swimming
The Iron Horse, has an indoor-outdoor pool, is ski-in/out, even though it's about
a quarter mile up the access road, and offers frequent shuttle service to the
base area and into town.
The Outpost Bed and Breakfast in Fraser welcomes children. 970-726-5346.
Super 8. A clean, comfortable hotel in the heart of town.
The best bet is to rent gear
at the resort. It costs an extra buck or two per day, but it
comes with free overnight storage. Boots & Boards, in the West Portal building
at the base, rents high-end demos. Slopeside Gear & Sport, West Portal Rentals and the Jane Shop also rent equipment. All resort rental shops, including Adventure Junction Cnildre's Center, offer free overnight storage. In town, Viking Ski Shop, in town, offers "kids rent
free" when an adults rents, too.
Buy: Boots Boards is a small shop but sells good
stuff and accessories. Slopeside Gear & Sport is found right at the base by the
Zephyr Mountain Lodge. Two other retail shops at West Portal are Base Camp 9000 and West Portal Outfitters.
Fun Stuff:Snow Mountain
Ranch, located about eight miles west on Route 40, presents a bevy of alternate
activities - basketball, indoor roller skating and swimming, cross-country
skiing and more stuff like that.
There's a tubing hill in
Fraser, four miles west, that operates on both day and night schedules. Grand
Adventures (970-9247) runs snowmobile tours, snowshoeing and dogsled rides.
And, if you've got kids
ages 9-16, just west of town you'll find Snoscoots - mini snowmobiles - that can
be driven on a Grand Prix-style course.
Archived articles relating to