8 Tips to Book Your Best Winter Park Ski Vacation
1. Prep For A Major Altitude Adjustment
Hydrate - start upping your daily water intake for a few days prior to your trip & keep on chugging the entire time your at altitude.
Limit alcohol & caffeine (both dehydrate you) for the first couple days.
Protect yourself from the sun & wind. Lather yourself in sunscreen & don't forget your lips.
If you start to feel the affects of altitude sickness (headache, nausea, fatigue) certain supplements can help. Look for Boost Oxygen & Acclimate drink powder (both are for sale at Epic Mountain Sports) to help your body recover & save your vacation!
2. Understand Your Lodging Options & Book Early
- First Time to the Area? Book as Early as Possible. Check with our favorite lodging partners in the Winter Park & Fraser area & mention we sent you for even better rates! Another tip, go in with other friends or families to save on the cost of lodging & enjoy the company of your favorite people. Here's a Quick Location Breakdown of Popular Lodging Spots:
- Winter Park Resort Base Area - Located at the base village of Winter Park ski resort.
- Advantages: Easy access to the slopes, many times you are within walking distance of ski lifts. All inclusive feel with shopping & dining options all available within the village (our picks Goody's for breakfast & Vertical Tap & Bistro for couples dinner out or Apres Ski bites). Free daily activities (hot cocoa at the fire pit, ice skating, etc)
- Downtown Winter Park - Located about 2.5 miles from the ski area. Staying in town offers a variety of lodging options (hotels, b&b, ski lodges, condos, & homes for rent).
- Advantages: More dining & entertainment options (check out Idelwild Distillery for craft cocktails by the fireplace & Pepe Osaka's for can't beat fish tacos) Better night life - live music shows, karaoke, trivia nights & events (favorites include: Ullrs Tavern, The Peak & The Basement). More affordable than Winter Park Resort base area lodging. Easy to get from town to the ski area thanks to the free Lift shuttle that runs continually (stopping every 15-30 minutes) to Winter Park Resort. Easy access to other activities (tubing hills, sledding, shopping, spas, recreation center, etc)
- Fraser Lodging - Just a couple miles down the road from Winter Park.
- Advantages: Quieter pace, easy access to cross country & snowshoe trails, accessible price point, access to free shuttle that transports to Downtown Winter Park & Winter Park Resort.
3. Make Reservations For Dining & Activities Including Ski Rentals
One of our least favorite conversations happens each holiday break when a family comes in to rent ski equipment and we have to turn them away because all of our ski and snowboard rentals are reserved. Like most other sport shops in town, we typically have a couple days during peak periods (Christmas Vacation & Spring Break) when just about all of our equipment is spoken for. Needless to say it's difficult to enjoy a ski vacation if you aren't able to rent equipment. Save yourself the hassle of running around piecing together rentals last minute & book your winter park ski rentals early! Not only will you have your equipment reserved but you'll save money by booking early instead of paying walk up prices.
Available spots for restaurants & popular activities like tubing, snowmobiling & dog sledding fill up fast during busy times in resort towns like Winter Park. If you have your heart set on a Continental Divide Snowmobile Tour or a steak dinner at Devils Thumb Ranch be sure to reserve early in order to guarantee availability.
Another tip - try to avoid peak times for popular activities. For example, if your deciding when to pickup your rental skis the busiest times in the shop are from 8-9am and from 4-6pm, if you can pick up outside that window your wait time will be much shorter this is especially important if you are picking up gear before heading to a ski lesson!
4. Book Lift Tickets in Advance
With daily lift tickets topping $150 depending on the date, it's no secret that skiing is not exactly a budget friendly sport. However if you book lift tickets ahead of your trip you can save hundreds of dollars! Our advice, look into specials like the Route 40 4 Pack (which you can purchase for about the cost of 2 walk up lift tickets during Christmas week) or try for bundle packages that include lodging, lift tickets & lessons. You can also look at sites like liftopia for discounts & deals on lift tickets. At the very least plan to book your lift tickets 48 hours out from your first ski day, within 48 hours pricing is not very flexible. If you plan to do more than 4 days of skiing this year, a season pass (which sells for $299-$469+ depending on date of purchase) may give you the most bang for your buck. Once you're up here the only place (that we know of) to purchase a lift ticket is throught the resort ticket office directly there are not really any deals to be found for day of passes. Another option worth considering is to spend a few days skiing or riding at Granby Ranch Ski Resort which is a smaller more accessible family friendly ski area located just 25 mintues from Winter Park.
5. Look into Lessons
Maybe you're taking a romantic ski trip with your new-to-the-slopes significant other, or maybe it's the first time the whole families come together for a ski trip. In your mind you're dreaming about how fun it will be to swosh down the hill together, smiling & laughing run after run. Spoiler alert: that is NOT what actually happens. More often it ends with someone crying or storming off & sitting in the lodge while you stick it out alone on the slopes. Do yourself & your loved ones a favor, if you have first timers in the group schedule a lesson & let someone else offer the instruction you can all meet up for happy hour after.
6. Don't Be Afraid to Take A Day Off From Skiing
Even on vacation, continous activity can exacerbate altitude sickness, stress & fatigue. While we understand that you want to make the most of your limited time on the slopes, it's a good idea to set aside some down time during your stay to soak up R&R. Visit our bowling alley & movie theater for arcade games, pool tables & wood fired pizza. Head over to the natural hot springs just 45 minutes away in Hot Sulphur Springs or try a low impact activity like a mellow snowshoe walk along the creek side trail outside of Fraser. You can even schedule a revitalizing massage at one of our local spas, or simply enjoy an afternoon in your pjs while you netflix & chill at your condo!
7. Get Familiar With Transportation To, From & Around Winter Park
- Planes: Denver International Airport is a good 90 minutes from Winter Park. You can either rent a car or book a shuttle service with a grand county transport provider like Home James or Colorado Tour Transportation. If you do end up renting a car it's a safe bet to request a 4 wheel or all wheel drive vehicle for increased traction on snowy mountain roads.
- Trains: The Amtrack leaves from Union Station in Downtown Denver & drops off in the town of Fraser (2 miles from Winter Park) if you have the time, this 3 hour(ish) train ride grants unbelivable views as you wind through the city up into the Rocky Mountains. The Winter Park Express Ski Train is another fun & nostalgic option for a quick day trip!
- Automobiles: Many of us have become accustomed to Uber or lyft ride services & while they are starting to take hold in Grand County, for the most part those options are hard to come by. If you're plan is to catch a ride up to Winter Park & call an uber to the airport when you're ready to jet home be sure that you have reserached drivers in the area well before you expect to leave. As far as renting a car, it's likely easiest to rent before you head over the hill - or you can try avalanche car rental in Granby (20 miles down the road)
- and...the free Lift Shuttle Bus: One of the best things you can do while you're here is to get familiar with our local transit system, the lift bus runs on all year long with increased service during the winter season. The free bus picks up & drops up off within walking distance of nearly all lodging, dining & shopping centers around Winter Park & Fraser. The bus is the easiest way to transport your crew & your equipment to the slopes at Winter Park Resort. You don't have to pay to park at the base or waste precious ski time circling the lot looking for a place to pull in. You can find a shuttle map here or download the ridehop app on your smartphone for the most up to date view of service & wait times in your area.
8. Be Patient & Kind
Our final (self-serving) piece of advice is to keep a calm head & a kind spirit during your holiday ski trip. The hustle & bustle of the hollidaze often leads to simmering tempers, big crowds & hurried time lines. Cut your bartneders, waitstaff, ski techs, & fellow vactioners some slack during your visit. We'll all make it out in one piece & with fun filled stories to tell, plus you'll find that maintaing your good nature & treating others kindly often ends up serving you better in the long run!