Except it wasn’t the end. The people of Winter Park, Denver, and the state of Colorado wouldn’t let the idea of ski by train travel die.
At first, they just did a test run — two trips in 2016 to see if there was still interest. And boy, were people still interested, selling out the two Ski Train in mere hours.
Winter Park secured a 1.5 million dollar grant from Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to rebuild a train platform that would provide direct access to the slopes for passengers disembarking. The resort itself kicked in several more million dollars necessary to make the dream become reality.
And last Saturday, the Winter Park Express began a new era, with over 500 passengers rising early in the pre-dawn eras, toting snowboards, skis, boots, poles to Union Station by bus, train and car. Pulling out as the sun rose over the plains and the engine pulled the cars teeming with families, young and old alike. Passing through more than 20 tunnels before going through the longest tunnel of them all — Moffatt Tunnel.
A mere 15 minutes later, as the train popped out on the other side of the Continental Divide, the ski slopes of Winter Park appeared and the train ground to a halt. Smiles lit up the faces of the children as they gleefully hopped down the steps for a day of fun and skiing.
By 4:30 p.m., happy and exhausted skiers and snowboarders boarded for the return ride back to Denver amidst the setting sun over the Rockies. People passed the time in a variety of ways — some playing cards or games, some content just to take in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, some napped.
The resurrection of the Ski Train complete with the opening of the A Line from Union Station to Denver International Airport now give Colorado a unique distinction among ski country. It is the only place you can go on a ski vacation from out of state and without getting in a vehicle for your ski vacation.
You literally can ride the A Line train from the airport to Union Station, board the Ski train to Winter Park, disembark at the village, spend the week at a lodge, then board the ski train back to Union Station. Winter Park is even offering packages where flatlanders can spend a night at a hotel near Union Station to acclimatize and enjoy a bit of LoDo (Lower Downtown) nightlife, before boarding the ski train the next day.
I don’t know about you, but I’d sure rather spend my time getting up to the mountains relaxing in a comfy big seat on the train with amazing views of the mountains, than stuck in a car or shuttle in a traffic jam, or worse a snowstorm on I-70.
All hail the Winter Park Express and the ski train!