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Your Guide to Visiting Colorado with the Kids
Ski Winter Park Resort with the Kids

Photo: Devil's Gut ski trail at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen, Colorado, requires adults to be accompanied by children.

Read our article: Skiing Aspen with the Kids 

Photo credit: Winter Park Resort

Photo: Winter Park ski and ride school offers ski instruction for all abilities and ages


A strange sort of déjà vu came across me as I watched my dad ski down the Cranmer ski trail toward Snoasis, the mid-mountain restaurant at Winter Park.

Thirty years ago I was a little kid on that very slope, playing follow the leader with him, trying to stay in the S-curved tracks he made in the snow. His skiing posture was the same, and so was his voice, “Try to stay in my tracks, now. Good job!”

But the child he called to wasn’t me. It was my son, bundled in his puffy coat, face almost completely covered by big ski goggles and a grin, as he played in the snow with Grandpa.

My older son swooped by, heading for the angular, 1960’s ski architecture of Snoasis that I knew so well.

Three generations skiing together at Winter Park – the nostalgic thrill surprised me – but it is not uncommon.

Photo: Snoasis restaurant and warming hut, situated on the mountain at Winter Park Ski Resort, Colorado, has great mid-Twentieth-Century architecture.

Winter Park – A Part of Denver History

George Cranmer, manager of Denver Parks and Recreation Department, developed Winter Park in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Since then, thousands of Denverites have learned to ski on its slopes, which are in fact still owned by the city.

The Eskimo ski club shipped countless kids up to the high country on the Ski Train to learn to ski, and many of those children grew up to ski Winter Park with their kids and now with their grandkids, too. 

Hometown and World Class at the Same Time

If ever there was a hometown ski area for Denver, it is Winter Park. On the other hand, that hometown reputation can't hide the world class skiing that its mountains offer.

Where to Ski with the Family at Winter Park

Winter Park really encompasses five areas:
  • Winter Park – The main hub around which all the other areas have been developed, this is the best place for families who are learning and developing their skills to ski. The ski school is large and highly organized, and many groups of even tiny skiers slide around the abundant easy runs shepherded by patient and enthusiastic ski instructors.
  • Mary Jane – This area is known for its long mogul runs, but our family has spent countless happy hours cruising the intermediate trails served by the Sunnyside chairlift.
  • Parsenn Bowl – Served by the Timberline chairlift from the top of Mary Jane, much of the blue and blue/black runs are above timberline. Windswept and sweeping, they offer great views and a chance for kids (and their parents) to feel like intrepid arctic explorers, battling through the elements. Go on a nice day.
  • Vasquez Cirque - This area is also reached from the Timberline lift, much of it after traversing the top of the bowl at the very edge of the ski area’s boundaries. Its runs are marked expert and extreme, and many offer glade skiing. The moguls on the steep runs under the Eagle Wind chairlift are lovely, big, round, and rhythmic.
  • Vasquez Ridge – The Pioneer Express lift brings skiers to this mostly intermediate area of Winter Park at the far northern boundary. This is the place for families to expand their range as their skills develop and they look for variety after they’ve skied all the runs near Snoasis and to Winter Park’s Base Area.

Always Changing, Always the Same

Every year Winter Park grows and develops as a modern ski resort. New lodging, dining, and shopping appear every season, and Intrawest (hired by the City of Denver to manage Winter Park) works continuously to keep the area competitive with the other large resorts of the West.

Still, skiing at Winter Park gives your kids a taste of history, and a sense of roots.

Photo: The Looking Glass Chairlift at Winter Park Ski Resort has a long history with Colorado skiers. Generations still enjoy riding it together.