Route 66 Cities Beaches

Outpost Slopes

Winter Park

We love skiing at Winterpark for a long list of reasons. The first reason is there are so many trails and they are so long that you can ski here for a week and rarely if ever retrace your tracks. As a matter of fact, if you're here four days you'll need to ski pretty hard and ski long days to cover this whole terrain. The second reason is the length of the trails : we love dropping off the ski lift at the top and spending an hour cruising down and around the mountain to the base village far below. Every major resort has a few long cruisers but no one in the U.S. has the number of full length trails as Winterpark. Trails here are so long they can exhaust you. We ski 12-14 days every season before concluding here, but trails back East are not long enough to condition us for these 30-45 minute descents. As a result, three or four descents make a morning and it's time for lunch. Four or five more make an afternoon and it's time for the hot tub. Of course, there are shorter trails and mid mountain lift drops so some descents take only 20 minutes to half an hour. But the big picture is that this is a cruiser's resort, whether you're navigating moguls or powder or groomed expressways.

Third, the place is so big even with thousands of skiiers out on the mountain lift lines are not long and trails are not crowded. Streaming away from the lift drops in all directions may be hundreds of skiiers, but five minutes down one of the trails and you find yourself almost alone, as in the photo above or at left. Even if you find yourself surrounded by skiiers, trails are so wide there is room to maneuver.

Fourth is the absolutely spectacular scenery. Ski resorts all tend to be beautiful, with snow covered mountains and trees. But the Continental Divide runs along the horizon here and the national forest is relatively undeveloped. You could spend a week just shooting photos and skiing very little.

Fifth, we like the mountaintop and midmountain warming huts, a very inadequate term for the rustic shelters with rest rooms, snack bars and lounges for relaxing and warming up. A lot of ski resorts have these, but Winterpark has more of them, more conveniently located, better designed and serving more and better food than its rivals.

Sixth, we like the accuracy of the ratings and mix of trails. Elsewhere we note blues that are really high greens and blacks that are really high blues. Not here. If you're a novice you'll find yourself stopped cold by Winterpark blues. If you're an intermediate, you take your life in your hands trying to descend one of these blacks. You are truly challenged by your own level of trails

We like Winterpark for its warming huts. All major ski areas have warming huts, but the others don't have have as many and they are not as large. This is Sunspot. It offers a huge fireplace and two restaurants : one full service offering hot soups, chile, pizza and hot sandwiches for lunch, the other a bar and fast food outlet. For dinner the full service side becomes a major upscale restaurant which diners ride the Zephyr lift up to and which we review over on the restaurant page. This location is at 10,700 ft., atop the nearest peak to the base village, but other peaks rise to as high as 12,060 ft. Sunspot is therefore sort of a central stop for skiiers crisscrossing back and forth across the huge Winterpark terrain. Sunspot is the largest of the warming huts but they are all quite adequate for a lunch stop, a rest and a chance to warm up on a cold day. From here it would be a 40 minute green cruise back to the main lodge at the base village, or you could drop off the edge down the black runs and get there in half that time.
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