This story has been up to date to mirror the 2023 Winter Park Categorical ski practice schedule.
The one drawback is that the cities aren’t all the time straightforward to get to — most require a few hours’ drive, a flight or each. So, it was thrilling when Amtrak introduced the return of the Winter Park Express “ski train” following a hiatus for the 2020-2021 season.
Now, I need to admit that I’m not a skier. Having spent most of my life in sunny Southern California, the one snowboarding I had performed up to now was on the water.
Nonetheless, the concept of taking a practice straight from a significant downtown to the slopes of a high ski resort intrigued me. So after I just lately discovered myself with a free day in Denver, the ski practice was the proper excuse for me to present the slopes a attempt.
Schedule and reserving
For the present season, the Winter Park Categorical runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from Jan. 13 by March 26,
It departs Denver Union Station (DEN) at 7 a.m. and arrives at Winter Park Resort (WPR) at 9 a.m. The return journey departs the resort at 4:30 p.m. and arrives in Denver at 6:40 p.m. This schedule aligns completely with the resort hours, that are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and eight:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. So, you’re principally assured a full day on the slopes.
It’s additionally value mentioning that Union Station is linked to Denver International Airport (DEN) by commuter trains, so it’s attainable to fly in and make your method to the slopes fully by rail.
Reserving the Winter Park Categorical is not any totally different than reserving some other practice. Head to Amtrak’s web site and enter DEN as your departure level and WPR as your vacation spot.
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One-way fares begin at $34, with a particular price of $17 for youngsters ages 2 to 12. Don’t fear about paying further to carry your skis or snowboards on board. You’re allowed to carry two carry-on objects, together with skis and snowboards, in addition to two private objects at no further cost. Simply bear in mind carry tickets have to be bought individually by the resort.
Sadly, this route just isn’t bookable with Amtrak Guest Rewards factors.
Amtrak has spare trains devoted to this route. They’re painted in a customized Winter Park livery on the surface and have particular branding on the within.
The trains function all-coach seating unfold throughout two ranges. Most vehicles are outfitted with typical Amtrak seats, some upholstered in leather-based and others in cloth. Each varieties supply beneficiant legroom, a snug recline and energy retailers in each row.
The perfect seats, a minimum of for my part, are these within the remark automotive — higher often known as the Sightseeing Lounge. When you’ll hand over some legroom and recline in case you sit right here, the floor-to-ceiling home windows make up for it, significantly on this scenic route.
Along with the only seats, there are household seats with tables for teams of 4. As within the different vehicles, all seats have direct entry to energy retailers.
Seats within the remark automotive are first come, first served, they usually refill shortly. I like to recommend heading there immediately if you would like a spot. The remark automotive is a novel function usually solely discovered on long-distance trains however a staple of the Winter Park Categorical.
Under the window-filled lounge is a restaurant that serves an assortment of packaged gentle snacks and drinks however no sizzling meals.
My morning started on the daybreak at Denver’s historic Beaux Arts Union Station. I used to be staying at The Crawford Resort contained in the practice station (assessment coming quickly), so I used to be only a quick stroll away from the practice.
The Winter Park Categorical all the time departs Union Station from Observe 5. I had rented gear from the resort, so I used to be touring gentle. Nonetheless, there have been volunteers to help in loading skis and snowboards into the devoted baggage storage space.
Further space for storing is accessible on board on the ends of the vehicles, in addition to on overhead cabinets. Whereas everybody was allowed two carry-on objects and two private objects, that didn’t seem like strictly enforced.
Regardless of the early morning departure, there was plenty of vitality on board. Everybody — each passengers and crew — appeared excited to be on the ski practice. This helped to make the expertise much more particular. The conductor was additionally very chatty and handed by the cabin steadily to test on passengers.
What made probably the most lasting impression on me have been the volunteers. Apart from simply serving to passengers load their gear, there have been volunteers on board mentioning sights alongside the way in which, sharing numerous tales and, maybe most significantly, answering questions on Winter Park.
There was no Wi-Fi on board, however folks didn’t appear to thoughts — everybody’s eyes have been caught to the home windows for a lot of the 67-mile trip anyway.
The views have been really gorgeous, and passengers, myself included, couldn’t assist however take footage at each flip. It certain beat the standstill site visitors on Interstate Freeway 70, which you’d usually take to drive to Winter Park.
A swift two hours later, the brakes screeched, and we arrived at Winter Park. These returning to Denver later that day had the choice of leaving some belongings on the practice (so long as they did not thoughts not having the ability to entry these objects till they returned on the day’s finish).
Once more, there have been volunteers to help with unloading gear from the practice.
The practice cease couldn’t have been any extra handy. Upon arrival, we stepped off onto a heated platform — simply 100 ft from the closest ski carry. The rental store and ski and trip college have been additionally proper there, so no shuttles have been obligatory.
After a profitable day studying tips on how to ski, I walked again to the practice, was welcomed again by the identical crew from the morning. Earlier than I knew it, was on my means again to Denver. Straightforward peasy.
Due to the Winter Park Categorical, I used to be capable of benefit from an additional day in Denver and discover ways to ski in only a few hours’ time.
It might not be the Polar Categorical, but it surely felt like the following smartest thing. It’s not on daily basis that you simply get to get up in a significant metropolis, go snowboarding for the day and be again in meal time.
Further reporting by Caroline Tanner.