Colorado, United States
Winter Park Resort is an alpine ski resort in Winter Park, Colorado in the Rocky Mountains. Located just off U.S. Highway 40, the resort is about an hour and a half's drive from Denver, Colorado.
The mountain opened for the 1939–1940 season as Winter Park Ski Area and was owned and operated by the city and county of Denver until 2002, when Denver entered into a partnership with Intrawest ULC, a Canadian corporation headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has operated the resort since then. For nearly 70 years a popular way for Denver residents — many of whom have learned to ski or snowboard at Winter Park over the years — to get there was via the Ski Train, which arrived at the resort's base area though the Moffatt Tunnel. (The Ski Train was terminated by the railroad in spring 2009). It is home to one of the world's largest and oldest disabled skiing programs, the National Sports Center for the Disabled.
The resort consists of three interconnected mountain peaks — Winter Park, Mary Jane, and Vasquez Ridge — which share a common lift ticket. Mary Jane, opened in 1975, has a separate base area and is known for its moguls, tree skiing, hidden huts and generally more difficult terrain. It encompasses the above-tree line terrain of Parsenn Bowl. Vasquez Ridge, opened in 1986, offers intermediate terrain and mogul runs. In 1997, 435 acres of backcountry terrain in Vasquez Cirque were opened to skiing, although access required hiking from the top of Mary Jane; the 2006 relocation of the former Outrigger triple chairlift to the Cirque provides lift access to much of that terrain.
Since taking over operation of the resort, Intrawest has made several changes to the mountain's infrastructure, renovating the food services in the West Portal base lodge, opening new lifts in 2005 and 2006, and publicly announcing plans for a new base village to include hundreds of new condominiums, a parking structure, a "Village Pond," and a "family swim center," all accessible via a new open-air gondola to be known as "The Cabriolet." However, while this change has been great for the economic development of the town and the resort, it has also been a threat to the existing historic resort base. The historic Balcony House remains under constant threat of demolition. This historic building was designed in the Googie style of architecture, which was a popular style in the 1940s to the 1960s. This building is a standing memory to the original history of Winter Park.
In an attempt to make Winter Park into a year-round resort, Intrawest operates the lifts during the summer months for mountain biking. The Arrow chairlift also services an alpine slide in the summer, and the base area features miniature golf, a climbing wall, and other diversions. While the Winter Park area is also a popular destination for golf, there are no golf courses located at, or operated by, the resort itself.