Winter Park Ranks In Top 10 Authentic Small Towns

Downtown Winter ParkWe’ve always been proud of our no fuss, small town ways, but it’s always nice when someone else puts it in print for the whole world to see!

Steve Winston, a Fort Lauderdale based journalist, has just published his Top 10 ‘Authentic’ Small Towns In America, and ranks Winter Park as #6, and nearby Grand Lake as #1.

Winston is no stranger to adventure travel, with literary escapades that have taken him all over the world: cowboying in Arizona, ice-caving in Switzerland, dodging bullets in Northern Ireland, and climbing glaciers in Alaska.

The driving force behind the article was to dig beneath the trying-too-hard facades of many small towns that appear in shiney magazines, and discover the  ‘“real,” “authentic” American small towns…where nature is beautiful, shops are unique, and smiles are genuine.’

We think he did a wonderful job.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Top 10 Authentic Small Towns

Winter Storm Hits Winter Park

Winter Park Resort VillageWe begged, we pleaded and only when Winter Park Resort delayed opening day until November 15th, did the snow gods finally listen.

While the majority of the US shuddered at images of the Polar Plunge making it’s way down from Canada, Winter Park joyously threw its mitten clad hands in the air, as big fat flakes of snow started falling from the skies.

And it’s still falling!

The weather forecast below comes from Snowforecast.com (‘Predicting sick days since 1998′), and it is looking great for the season kick off in Winter Park, Colorado, with more than a foot on the books.

Snow forecast winter park colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, does this mean for opening day?  Well, our contacts at the Resort remain coy about the runs that they plan to open on Saturday, but a gambling man might hedge their bets on Parkway & Larry Sale for good odds for now.

There’s also a few bonus events going on this Opening Day for Winter Park Resort’s 75th Anniversary, which puts the emphasis of the weekend more more on celebration, and less on getting as much vert’ as possible.   Get in the lift line early for a chance to score some commemorative swag, free drink coupons, and head to the Derailer bar between 3 pm – 5 pm for live music and fun.

Want to know more about Winter Park Resort’s 75 years in the making?  Check out Winter Park’s 75 year anniversary promo below.

 

Want To Join In The Fun?

If you would like to take part in the festivities and make a last minute trip to Winter Park for opening weekend, check out our 140+  Winter Park Vacation Rentals and take advantage of our 30% Off Flash Sale today, to save on Early Season lodging.

 

 

Cash Giveaways At Winter Park Resort

Cash In On Winter Park’s 75th Anniversary

 Winter Park groomers2014/15 marks the 75th anniversary of lift assisted skiing at Colorado’s Favorite, Winter Park Resort.  

In celebration, Winter Park Resort will be recognizing the history of the resort with online vintage photo galleries and details of the resort’s milestone events, publication of a limited addition 196-page collectors book ‘Winter Park Resort: 75 Years Of Imagining More’ (click here to purchase) and fun events such as their Secret Cash Stash giveaway. 

Did somebody say ‘free cash’?  Yep, Winter Park Resort will be stashing $75 gift certificates in different locations throughout the season, and leaving clues to their whereabouts.  To claim the prize, you need to find the secret location, then post a photo of the hidden treasure using #SecretCashStash, and if you’re the first person to tag the stash, the good folks at the Resort will deliver your prize right to you.   

Secret Cash Stash giveaways will be running several times a month, with the first hunt taking place on November 14th, 2014 with the secret clue, ‘Arrow, Arrow, Straight and Narrow.  Keep your eyes peeled before you hit the Parkway.’  For updates on the cash giveaways, and loads of fun info on Winter Park Resort’s 75th Anniversary, visit www.WinterParkResort.com.

Most of us know about Winter Park’s incredible snow conditions, and massive terrain, but in celebration of 75 years of all-out fun on the slopes, we put together a little list of the lesser known trivia on Winter Park Resort.

 

Family fun at winter park resort7.5 Fun Facts You Might Not Have Known About Winter Park

  1. Winter Park Resort was originally known as West Portal, but changed its name in 1939 to celebrate the beginning of ski recreation in the area.
  2. A day pass for Winter Park Resort in it’s opening season cost $1.00;  10,692 skiers visited the Winter Park slopes that year.
  3.  The Looking Glass Chairlift  was added in 1965 and is still in use today, making it the longest running 2 man chair in western USA
  4. The infamous Mary Jane, actually lived in the community of Arrow, but acquired the Mary Jane Placer (where the Mary Jane base area now sits) using her ‘night-shift’ earnings.  
  5. The Panoramic Express is North America’s highest high speed 6 pack, unloading its riders at a whopping 12,060 feet above sea level
  6. Doc Susie came to live and practice medicine in Fraser in 1907, and although never verified, is speculated to be the inspiration behind the TV series, Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman.
  7.  WPR has snow making stations on 27 trails, covering 313 acres of terrain, so winter always comes to the park!

So, what about 7.5?  Winter Park Resort’s history is full of unique characteristics and attributes that shouldn’t be whittled down to one small list.  Factoid #7.5 is left open for you to share your favorite fact, story or experience about Winter Park Resort ; so go ahead and share your tidbits and tales of Winter Park Resort in our comments section below.

Winter Driving Tips In Winter Park

Berthoud pass to winter park

Top Tips For Winter Driving In Winter Park, Colorado

With an average annual snowfall of 350 inches, navigating the twists and turns of our mountain roads in the Winter Park area can be a bit of an adventure to the uninitiated. To help you have as safe and stress free driving experience, we’ve answered a few of the most commonly asked questions we tend to get asked about winter driving, and even added a few bonus items for good measure.

Can I bring my two-wheel drive car?

Ultimately this is your decision, but when asked, we always recommend a four-wheel drive vehicle as the safest option during the winter months.  Some local people do drive two-wheel drive vehicles, and swear that they get along just fine…but read the fine print and you will find that most use studded snow tires to help with traction, and if it’s a big snow day, many will delay a trip over Berthoud Pass until the road conditions have improved.

If you do decide to go with a two-wheel drive vehicle, give yourself an advantage by making sure that your tires are in top condition with good tread (if you have snow tires, all the better).  Purchase a set of snow chains before your trip to keep in the trunk, if you don’t need them you can always return them to the store, but at least they are there if you do.

If you would rather rent a four-wheel drive vehicle for your trip, check out our Winter Park Lodging Company discounted rates for 4WD Alamo car rentals from DIA

How is Berthoud Pass to drive over?

Berthoud Pass has gone through some major improvements in the past five years, and has become a much more enjoyable drive than in years past.  There are still many twists and turns to navigate, but many sections of the road have been extended to two lanes on uphill directions, and the addition of roadside reflectors and flashing corner signs have become a welcome improvement for unfamiliar drivers at night.

There are many pull outs along the side of the high way, which can be used to stop and take in the scenery, or to let faster drivers safely move past you.  During daylight hours you will see a lot of backcountry skiers hanging out or hitch hiking from some of these pull-outs, don’t be alarmed, that’s just a part of the local recreation around here. Here’s a little snippet of video I found on YouTube of a jeep driving over Berthoud Pass after a recent snow storm.

I heard that CDOT causes avalanches on Berthoud Pass on purpose, what’s that all about?

The Colorado Department of Transportation will often trigger snow slides on key areas of Berthoud Pass after large snowfalls, high winds, or if the snow conditions in the high country are simply deemed unstable, to avoid the snow from self-releasing onto the highway.  Any time that CDOT needs to carry out avalanche mitigation work, they will close the road over the pass, allowing themselves a clear path to activate a slide and then clear the road of any snow. To stay up to date on road conditions or closures, we highly recommend that you check cotrip.org or call 511 from your phone before heading up to the high country.   For specifics on Berthoud Pass, look for US 40: I-70 – Winter Park (Berthoud Pass).

Moose CrossingDo the roads get plowed regularly?

Yes, our local road crew do a wonderful job of keeping the roads plowed and gritted during the winter months.   There are times however, during heavy snow storms, that snow build up might happen in between plows, so be prepared to deal with some snowy driving conditions on these days…and consider taking the free bus shuttle to Winter Park to get to all that powder without the hassle of driving.

I’m flying into DIA, what are my options for 4WD car rentals?

There are many car rental agencies located at DIA.  If you have a lodging reservation with us, we can arrange a special discount for you with Alamo Car Rentals, who have many good quality all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive vehicles on offer.  Click here to learn more about our Alamo Car Rental Discounts. Alternatively, if you would rather let someone else do the driving, guests of Winter Park Lodging Company are privy to discounted rate on airport shuttles with Home James Transportation. 

WPLCO’s Top 5 Tips For Winter Driving
  1. Be aware of the weather forecast and driving conditions before you head into the high country.  We like Wunderground for local weather forecasts and CoTrip.org for road conditions  .
  2. Practice full visibility for you and others.  Use a brush and scraper to clear ALL the snow off of your vehicle (no peeking through a tiny hole in windshield), get your blowers going to avoid steaming up, turn on your lights in snow storms or foggy areas.
  3. Take it easy.   Accelerate and decelerate slowly on snowy or icy roads.  Be prepared to slow down or make maneuver well in advance, and give yourself plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front.  If someone is crowding you from behind, don’t panic, just use a pull off to let them pass you safely.
  4. Check your car’s vitals.  Give your car the once over before heading to the mountains, paying particular attention to your tire tread and pressure, breaks fluid levels, windscreen wipers & wash.   It’s also a good idea to throw in some snacks, water and a blanket, just in case you run into any unexpected delays on the journey.
  5. Give snowplows plenty of space.   Snow plows kick up a ton of snow and grit as they clear the roads, which greatly reduces visibility around them.  Keep a safe distance behind them to stay out of ‘the cloud’, and if you do pass them be aware of the wing blade, which is a plow extension that can stick out 10-12 feet to the side of the vehicle, and remember that the reason the plow is on the road it to clear snow…there’s a good chance that you may run into deeper snow pack on the road ahead.

If driving in snowy conditions just doesn’t sound like fun to you, don’t sweat it.   Winter Park has a wonderful, free bus service that services most neighborhoods in Fraser, Downtown Winter Park, Old Town and Winter Park Resort throughout the ski season.

Guests of Winter Park Lodging Company can also take advantage of our discounted rates with Home James Transportation, a reputable shuttle service that has been operating between DIA and Winter Park for years.  Click here to learn more about Home James Transportation.

One Last Piece of Advice

Enjoy the adventure!  Winter driving doesn’t need to be a stressful experience; take your time, enjoy the spectacular views around you, and you’ll be driving like a local in no time.

Ski Vacation Workouts

Ready, Steady, Ski.

Getting fit for skiingIt happens every year.  Every spring, I swear blindly that I will squat and lunge my way through summer, then low and behold, it’s October, and the pins are not exactly the little pistons of steel I had imagined.

The good news is, I’m not the only one.  October is quite possibly the busiest month of the year at the local Grand Park Rec Center in Winter Park, where all the locals are in a blur of ski conditioning as they countdown to opening day (November 12th, woohoo!).

So, what is the best recipe for getting slope-ready fast?  Most ski conditioning classes focus on core strength, leg and back exercises to prepare your body for the impact absorption and quick bursts of action required when skiing or snowboarding.

Kristen Domonell’s article for Life By Daily Burn offers a good, do-able range of exercises that you can perform without specialist equipment, or a trip to the gym.  I gave it a try last night in my house, and aside from some very ‘helpful’ face licking from the family dog, found it easy to follow and managed to get through the whole routine in about 30 minutes.  Furthermore, my body felt tighter and more balanced at the end of the workout, and I could feel it targeting my skier-muscles.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE & EXERCISE PLAN

Yoga is another great exercise regime that will really pay off when you start hitting the slopes.  With the focus on core strength and flexibility, my favorite yoga moves are planks, warrior poses and chair poses.  Check out our Powder Yoga blog for our top 5 moves to keep you strong and stable on the slopes,

Finally, if you just don’t have the time or motivation to follow a workout routine (and don’t worry, you’re not alone), incorporate a little strength training into your everyday actions.

Don’t use your hands when you stand or sit down on a chair (and use just one leg to rise & sit if you’re feeling tough), perform one legged squats while you brush your teeth, stand on your toes while you dry your hair, and stand on one leg any time you are standing in line.  Yes, you might find yourself on the receiving end of a few strange looks, but just smile… those sparkly white slopes are on the horizon, and you are looking good!

 

 

Winter Park Resort Ranks In Best Of The West

Spring Skiing At Winter ParkWinter Park Resort continues to rise in the ranks in Skinet.com’s 2015’s Top-Ranked Western Ski Resorts.

Ranked 15th  out of their top 30 western ski resorts, here’s what they say:

Winter Park continues to move in the right direction with this year’s No. 15 rank (up from No. 18 last year). Looks like readers are taking notice of all the things that make this a great Front Range family resort: It’s pretty easy to get to (No. 11 for Access), it’s kind to the wallet (No. 11 for Value), it has excellent children’s programming (No. 10 for Kid-Friendly Activities), and families love the terrain parks spread across WP and sister peak Mary Jane (No. 10). —Samantha Berman

We couldn’t agree more, but would also add the world class NSCD Adaptive Ski Program, friendliest locals on the planet, and of course, Mary Jane’s Fabulous bumps.

Another huge plus for the ever blossoming Winter Park Resort, is the soon to be open Lunch Rock Restaurant.  This massive, 16,000 square foot venue will be an incredible addition to the Mary Jane territory, which was sorely lacking in on-mountain dining and warming options.  

If you missed our recent article on Lunch Rock Restaurant, click here to view it now.

Get A Little More Acquainted With Winter Park Resort

 

spring 2_edited-1If you are not familiar with the awesome trails at Winter Park Resort, we highly recommend you take a peek at the Resort’s new ‘Claim My Run – Video Trail Map’.  This interactive trail map invites skiers to upload their video footage of them skiing a named run to the trail map for everyone to see, and is a great way for you to get a feel for the runs you might like to ski.

If you are a seasoned pro, or got some great head cam action on your last Winter Park vacation, get your footage on there for a little Winter Park claim to fame.

Check out the Claim My Run – Video Trail Map here.

 

Winter Park Fall Vacations

Aspen colors in coloradoFall is a beautiful time to visit Winter Park, particularly if you time it just right with the peak turning of the aspen leaves, or the annual elk rut.

A quieter time of the year, you can still enjoy a host of mountain activities, but without the crowds or busy event calendar of the summer months.

Winter Park Resort remains open throughout the week for downhill access until September 28th (Village Adventure Park is open at the weekends only), and the conditions are fantastic, as we move out of the august monsoon cycle, to the draw crisp temperatures of September.  For those that prefer to go under their own pedal power, the options are limitless for riding quiet trails through the stunning fall colors.

The Winter Park & Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce has just released their Top 10 Colorful Bike Rides for Fall, take a peek here.  All of these trails are good for biking, or hiking, and offer amazing valley views.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a must if you are hoping for a little wildlife viewing during the elk rut (click here to see our ‘stuck in a rut’ blog), and even keep your eyes peeled around Winter Park for Yogi and friends as our big furry friends wander through town in hopes of finding an unattended pic-a-nic bas-ket/unlocked dumpster.

Fall is also a fantastic time to take a horseback ride in the valley.  The horses enjoy the cooler temperatures, and adopting their four legged form of travel will allow you a better chance of getting close to elk & moose migrating through the valley.   We highly recommend Cabin Creek Stables at Devils Thumb Ranch, as a great horse program offering small sized group rides, through seemingly endless aspen groves.

For the avid golfers out there, our highly acclaimed courses at Pole Creek, Granby Ranch & Grand Elk stay open until the snow flies (generally making it through October).   As a quieter time of the year, don’t be at all surprised to find yourself teeing off to empty greens, save for the odd moose or elk that might decide to stop by!

Take a trip to Grand Lake to play around on boats, head to Kremmling for a raft trip down the Upper Colorado, or simply snuggle up in your mountain vacation rental with your special someone.  No matter what your preference, there’s still plenty going on, in and around Winter Park during the early fall months.

For more information or guidance on booking a fall getaway to Winter Park, call one of our friendly vacation planners at Winter Park Lodging Company.

 

Ski Movies To Get You Excited For Winter

As the leaves begin to turn, and frost begins appearing in the early mornings, I can’t help but get a little bit giddy for Winter; and apparently, I’m not the only one.

Freeskier Magazine have just published their Trailer Time list of ski movies to get you in the mood for ski season.  The big names are all in there including Warren Miller, Teton Gravity Research, Whiteroom Productions, plus a lot of up and coming movie makers that seem to be making their mark in a big way.

Print

“While some thermometers might suggest otherwise, another ski season is fast approaching. For many skiers, the best way to look forward to the impending pow days and park sessions is by taking a look back at the winter gone by. This perennial ritual keeps many snow-starved skiers from slipping into the grip of insanity, and video production companies are happy to help. After devoting an entire season to amassing thousands of clips, these filmmakers spend countless hours whittling the footage down into a neat, tidy package: the trailer.

Keeping with the tradition FREESKIER started in 2005, we’ve collected all of this year’s best ski movie trailers and displayed them below—in one, easy-to-find spot—for your viewing pleasure. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the best that the 2013/14 season had to offer.”  -  Copyright Freeskier.

Click here to check out the full article and clips in Freeskier Magazine’s Trailer Time.

Of course, many of the classics just can’t be beat,  Blizzard of Ahhhs, Yearbook and Steep immediately come to mind, but my firm favorite (and only reason I still own a VCR) has to be Aspen Extreme.

Tagged as ‘Top Gun on skis’ by the Seattle Times, the fictional movie follows TJ & Dexter as they make the move from blue collar workers in Brighton, Michigan, to ski instructors in Aspen, Colorado.   Mixing the right amount of cheesy drama (ski school rivalry, drugs, the local man-eater) with killer ski sequences (featuring Scott Schmidt, Doug Coombs and more), Aspen Extreme is my #1 of ski movie to get you revved up for winter.

 

Summer Tubing Fun Near Winter Park

YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch Opens Summer Tubing Hill

YMCA Summer Tubing

Image courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA

Who says you need snow to hurtle down a mountain on an inflatable donut?  

The fun loving adventure hounds at the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch have raised the bar with the opening of their year-round Snowflex tubing hill.

What-now?  Snowflex is a revolutionary man-made surface that mimics the absorption and sliding quality of groomed ski trails.  Hailing from Britain (where snow is a rare commodity and mainly limited to the Scottish highlands), the Snowflex system was designed to allow ski and snowboard enthusiasts a year round surface on which they could hone their skills.  For those familiar with the traditional plastic-carpet-style ‘dry’ ski slopes, this is a whole other beast…and a much more user friendly one at that!   This Snowflex slope is the first of its kind in Colorado, and just the 3rd to be built in the entire US.   

The Snowflex Tubing Hill at Snow Mountain Ranch is designed with rollers and short steeps that make for a really fun ride.    Using the same type of inflatable tube that you would for winter tubing, you can go round and round as many times as you like, without even loosing your breath thanks to the magic carpet escalator.   There’s also a handy concession hut at the top of the tubing hill, which makes for a great shady spot for parents or little ones to hang out in, while the older laugh themselves tired on the slopes.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A SHORT VIDEO OF THE SNOW MOUNTAIN RANCH SNOWFLEX TUBING HILL IN ACTION 

The tubing hill will be open year round, and is only for tubing purposes – no skiing or snowboard at this time.   Off-site guests must purchase a day visitor pass to the facilities at Snow Mountain Ranch which will give them access to the tubing hill, and many of  the other activities on offer at the Y, including swimming pool, mini golf, tennis courts, hiking and biking trails.

YMCA Daily Activity Pass

13 and older: $35 per person
6-12 years old: $25 per person
3-5 years old: $15 per person

For further information on the tubing hill and other activities on offer at Snow Mountain Ranch, call 970-887-2152 ext 4135.

Rocky Mountain Centennial Year

rocky mountain vacationsSeptember 2014 marks Rocky Mountain National Park’s 100th anniversary.

This special centennial celebration will be marked by a calendar of events including guest speakers, art exhibitions, guided tours and more. To get the full schedule of planned events at Rocky Mountain National Park, click here.

We firmly believe that Rocky Mountain National Park is one of Colorado’s special treasures, and highly recommend putting it on your Winter Park to-do list.

The west entrance to the park is a located just 45 minutes north-west of Winter Park, just past the town of Grand Lake (well worth a visit in itself).

Spanning 415 square miles of breathtaking mountain wilderness, Rocky Mountain Park offers 300 miles of hiking trails spider webbing off of the infamous Trail Ridge Road which crests at 12,000 feet.

Columbine Lake Trail Hike in Winter Park, ColoradoSightings of large herds of elk, deer, moose are commonplace (even from the road), and offer budding photographers spectacular images against a back drop of dramatic alpine peaks. A short hike from any of the parking areas will transport you to your own private wilderness where you can encounter yet more wildlife, and an untouched landscape of natural meadows, rivers and forest.

Normal entrance fees to Rocky Mountain National Park are $20 per vehicle, and the pass can be used for a full 7 days from the day of purchase.  Pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles & mopeds are admitted for just $10, with the same 7 day revisit allowance.


Free Entrance Days!

Special calendar dates enjoy special benefits at Rocky Mountain National Park, including free admission days.  August 25th marks the National Park Service’s 98th Birthday, and offers free entry to all National Parks, including Rocky Mountain.

VISIT ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK WITH WPLCO

We think this is a perfect opportunity for our guests to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, and are offering a special lodging deal to help you extend the weekend, and enjoy a day in the park this August 25th, 2014.

STAY AUGUST 24TH OR AUGUST 25TH FREE

  • Stay must be for 3 nights or more, and include the evening of either August 24th, or August 25th 2015.
  • Offer valid at most, but not all properties
  • Must book by August 23rd. 

Book Online Today