Mountain steepness for a once-a-year, barely intermediate skier: A
On-mountain food: NA
Lack of Crowds: A
Winter Park, Colorado, west of Denver, was the first place I ever skied. I did not know I had an altitude problem, knock knees, or anything about renting skis, so my experience was awful, to say the least. This is in NO way a reflection of Winter Park itself, but obviously, personal problems that would have appeared at any high altitude ski resort I’d visited. We went skiing for the first time because my son had seen the Winter Olympics on TV and wanted to try it. I did some research and Winter Park looked like a good choice because it wasn’t that far a drive from Denver, supposedly had a good ski school for kids, and we got a deal on the lodging and lift tickets because it was April, when his spring break was.
If you know you have an altitude problem, then pretty much all Colorado resorts will be problematic, not just Winter Park. I knew nothing about skis, so rented from the place that had the “best deal” in town. In hindsight, the boots did not fit well and pinched, and the skis were too narrow for a first-time beginner. On our last family ski trip, because we knew it was the last (our son went off to college after that), we splurged and rented high-end skis for the first time—wow, what a difference! We went faster and farther with less effort than others on the same runs, so the old adage of “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to skis.
Obviously, being a beginner, I only skied the green runs on the right side of the mountain at Winter Park. They were very gentle and not steep at all, but some of the runs were on the narrow side for a brand new skier who would skid around turns. Of course I ended up falling on these 90-degree turns. My lesson here was not the best, but again, someone who is knock-kneed needs more specialized instruction, which you don’t get in a group lesson.
My son was already skiing after his first ever ski lesson at Winter Park. Luckily, my brother and his fiance were on this trip and already knew how to ski, so they took him up on the green runs in the following days. It was years before I could even ski the same runs with my son, and even then, I am WAY too slow for him!
There was a free town shuttle when we were there many years ago that took us from our condo directly to the Winter Park ski resort, and this came in handy since my brother and his fiance could ski the entire day, and we preferred to leave earlier or start later. I’m not sure if this service is still offered anymore. The parking situation looks much more complicated now with multiple lots, some paid, and some free. Check out the Winter Park website for more details.
Looking at the Winter Park trail map now, when I’m considered an intermediate skier, it looks like there’d be plenty of runs that I could do, and a variety of blues too. It snowed light powder while we were there and they still offer some great deals, so I’d say it’s worth checking out if you like Colorado mountains. After all, any ski day is better than a day in the office!