By Meghan McCloskey, Taking the Kids Correspondent
We had a lot on the line for our first ski trip out west together. I wanted my fiancé, Jonathan to fall in love with skiing as badly as I had so that he would accompany me on endless ski trips in the future. I knew Winter Park would win him over.
I went from skiing for the first time on my high school senior trip to finally being able to join my college friends on double black diamonds by my senior year of college. When I first met my fiancé Jonathan, one of the first things I asked was about his skiing ability. Jonathan comes from a completely different ski background – skiing the Wisconsin hills as a kid. He apparently found my line of questioning a bit intimidating.
Winter Park is known for its extreme Mary Jane territory and family-friendly Winter Park territory. This season it revealed seven distinct territories of various levels.
Out of its 143 trails, Winter Park has a balance of intermediate and more advanced runs –the perfect compromise for a mixed-skill couple.
Jonathan was looking for longer runs to contrast his skiing days in Wisconsin. Winter Park’s longest run is 4.6 miles!
The conditions at Winter Park made all of those snowy commutes I took in Denver the past couple of months worth it. A thick layer of snow covered the groomed runs with a fresh dusting of powder on top. There’s no sign of spring.
I appreciated that almost all of the 26 lifts serviced terrain of several levels. While Jonathan took it easy on a blue run, I could disappear into the tree runs but we could always meet up at the bottom and ride the lift together.
It was the weekend of the 39th Annual Wells Fargo Cup, an event that combines several races including a disabled skiing competition and a celebrity ski competition, all raising money for the National Sports Center for the Disabled. It was an exciting and busy day at Winter Park – our bus driver told us that it was the busiest that she has seen it all year. Despite the crowds that flocked to Winter Park, we never had to wait very long for the lifts or share our runs with many people.
The spirit of the staff at Winter Park is infectious. The lift operators cheerfully greet every rider. One of the restaurants on the mountain even gave us a discount on granola bars at the end of the day.
Even though he’d never skied out west, Jonathan’s ski skills were impressive. It reminded me of the importance of exposing kids to activities like skiing that will stick with them for a lifetime. My first day of skiing at the age of 18 was not quite as pretty.
Nothing levels the playing field more than tubing, so we ditched our skis and headed to Colorado Adventure Park in Fraser. The experience reminded me of that exhilarating snow-day feeling when you find the perfect hill to sled down. Of course, tubing was a bit more posh with a carpet lift and staff to assure the safety of guests.
After all the action, we were glad to head back for the evening to The Woodspur Lodge, where a complimentary home cooked meal was waiting for us. The three-course dinner was healthy and hearty and guests were even asking for the recipes at the end! The Woodspur Lodge has that romantic, old-fashioned ski lodge feel where guests meet and mingle by the fire and share meals family-style. The lodge was itself is a piece of history – it was built with some of the wood beams from Winter Park’s first ski lifts.
We grabbed a bite to eat before leaving town at The Ditch on 40. The casual eatery specializes in New Mexico style burgers and Mexican food. The hatch green chili makes an appearance in most of their dishes and my “Ditch Burger” tasted quite delicious with chopped peppers on top.
I’m glad to say that we ended our Winter Park ski trip as a happy couple with a new shared passion.