If you’re like most Denverites, you’re probably pretty tired of crawling along I-70 at a snail’s pace in dark and treacherous winter highway conditions – it’s almost enough at times to take the fun out of winter mountain sports altogether. Take heart, dear ski and snowboard traveler, there’s hope for your peace and serenity now that Amtrak’s popular Winter Park Express is up and running on a regular basis for the second year in a row. There’s no time like the present to take advantage of this opportunity to travel in proper style at high altitude.
Every Saturday and Sunday morning now through March 25, the Winter Park Express train, with a capacity of more than 500 passengers, departs Union Station at 7 a.m. and arrives at a new, modern platform at the base of Winter Park Resort a mere two hours later. Return trains depart Winter Park for Denver at 4:30 p.m.
The high mountain route traverses 30 tunnels, including the 6-mile Moffat Tunnel, the third-longest rail tunnel in the United States. Just imagine yourself on board, kicking back and relaxing with friends and family, as you look out the window together and behold the breathtaking snowcapped Continental Divide set against clear blue skies and bright Colorado sunshine. When you arrive at your destination, you’re inspired, relaxed, full of energy and ready to hit the slopes.
And there’s more good news: this year the train is newly running on the first Friday of each month, which means there’s still time to catch the final Friday train on March 2, if you want to make a long weekend of it. What have you got to lose? Just wear and tear on your vehicle, wasted hours stuck in traffic and the needless stress and tension of an arduous winter commute.
This historic train, operated initially by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, debuted in 1940. In 1988 the route was purchased by the Ansco Investment Company, which made various improvements on the line only to eventually shut the whole thing down in 2009 following 20 years of financial losses and the epic 2008 economic collapse.
In 2015, a one-day Winter Park Express revival was run by Amtrak in honor of Winter Park Ski Resort’s 75th anniversary. Tickets for the sole round-trip express train sold out within hours. Three additional trips over two weekends were added, which likewise sold out. Due to popular demand, the ski train returned to seasonal operation by Amtrak in 2016.
One-way tickets sell for $29 to $59, depending on the day, and can be purchased online or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. Tickets are half-price for youth ages 2 through 12 accompanied by a ticketed adult.