There’s a first time for everything!
As a girl who grew up in flat Texas, skiing was never a thing. My family opted for vacations near a beach, plus we don’t do well in cold weather, so trips to the snowy mountains never registered for me. Truth be told, it actually really intimidated me!
However, after seeing friends of mine share fun skiing videos, I decided I wanted 2020 to be the year I learn how to ski. As if manifested by some superpower, soon after I was contacted by Winter Park Resort to come to Colorado and explore their resort plus take a skiing lesson. I responded with an excited, “YES!” and here we are.
About Winter Park Resort
Winter Park, Colorado is located a couple hours west of Denver. It’s home to Winter Park Resort which is the closest ski resort to Denver (although you wouldn’t know it since it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains) and brings in over 16,000+ people on a busy Saturday during peak snow season, including Colorado locals.
Also, the resort was voted #1 Ski Resort in North America by USA Today for the second time in a row! I can see why; there is so much to do here! The resort has an array of awesome activities and unique experiences for people of all ages including skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, tubing, snow biking, snow cat tours, and a lot more. I wish I could have stayed a whole week in order to try everything! All the more reason to come back someday…
Keep scrolling to read about everything I did during my 3-day weekend stay!
Morning snowmobile tour with Grand Adventures
A friend of mine had told me about her experience doing a snowmobile tour while at the Winter Park Resort, so I knew I had to include it while I was up there!
We did the 2-hour Continental Divide Adventure tour which was AMAZING! Truly unlike anything else I’ve ever done in my life. This tour is the most popular one in the entire state and perfect for beginners! We rode to the top of the mountain and got to see some incredible views that I’ll never forget! We then rode through a forest that felt like Narnia while coming back down.
If you’re nervous about driving a snowmobile, don’t fret. Instructions are simple, and your guide will make sure everyone is safe and comfortable before heading out on the tour (which has multiple stops along the way). Our guide Weekly (shown above) made the whole trip super fun, and he always offered to take photos for the rest of us.
They provide helmets and boots free of charge, but be sure to bundle up with enough warm layers and bring your own goggles!
Explored the Winter Resort Village
After our snowmobile excursion, we headed back to the resort for lunch and beer at the Pizza Pedl’r (delicious!) and walked around exploring the shops below.
Everything you need is here! We bought a bottle of wine at a local spirits shop near the gondola, shopped for some ski gloves and souvenirs at the retail stores, and had a $2 latte at the locals’ fave spot, Coffee & Tea Market while people-watching everyone skiing from the patio above.
Because we stayed slope side at the Zephyr Mountain Lodge, we were right in the middle of the resort, so getting around to everything was a simple walk away. For a complete list of all the shopping options at the resort, click here!
Dinner at Sunspot Mountain Lodge
At the top of the gondola within the resort is the Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge which also acts as the starting point for most people getting ready to head out for a day of skiing. Sunspot Lodge offers panoramic views of the Continental Divide and unique dining at 10,700 ft!
They also have live music, drinks, and light bites during Mountaintop Après, and riding the gondola is free for foot passengers after 4pm Thursdays – Saturdays.
We went for their 3-course set menu dinner around 6:30pm which was SO GOOD. I had the elk (pictured below), something I’ve never had in Texas! Afterwards we easily took the gondola back down to the resort and rested up for the full day we had starting early in the morning.
All day private ski lesson
Finally, my first time skiing ever in my life!
I was nervous, but my instructor Tom (shown above) was so patient with me! At first I felt like a baby giraffe learning how to walk and couldn’t even get off the chair lift without holding Tom’s arm, haha! But I soon got the hang of it.
My instructor explained the basic functions and maneuvers of skiing that made it easier for me to understand, and with plenty of practice and repetition I was soon feeling comfortable on own.
If you’re a newbie like me, I highly recommend the all-day ski lesson to get the full experience (they offer half-days as well). A half day is only enough time to learn the basics, but a full day will have you feeling more confident.
Time flew by so fast! I only stuck to the easy green tracks on the mountain, but I had so much fun and felt super achieved by the end of the day.
Après Ski at Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge
What better way to end a full day of skiing? A nice glass of wine, am I right?
Also, am I the only one who didn’t know what Après Ski meant before this trip? Typical Texan… Basically, it’s like a happy hour after the peak hours of skiing (usually between 4pm and 6:30pm) when everyone is tired and looking for a way to wind down the day.
As I stated before, the Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge (where we ate dinner last night) is a quick ride up the gondola and has an awesome happy hour with $5 wine and beer accompanied by high window views of the extensive mountain range. I was in heaven!
It was such a perfect way to spend our last night at the resort.
Snowcat Mountain Tour
Before our pick-up time back to the Denver airport at noon, we made time for a 90 minute Snowcat Tour!
Because I was new to skiing, there were some mountain views I didn’t get to see because I was too nervous to adventure to the top of the mountain. Thankfully, snowcat tours are offered at Winter Park Resort! Even better, the snowcats are HEATED inside.
We went at a leisurely pace around the mountain and made a stop at a lodge for some hot chocolate. We got to chill for awhile and watch the people ski on by. This tour was only an hour and a half, but it was the perfect way to end our trip on a chill note while learning about the resort’s history and see some amazing views.
If you’re not a fan of skiing but still want to explore the mountain a bit, definitely check out this tour.
As someone who grew up in Texas, it always baffled me how people would opt to use their vacation days to venture our to cold places with snow. Like, why would anyone enjoy being freezing??
Now I get it.
Ski resorts are actually FUN, and skiing is exhilarating. Sure, I only learned the basics and stuck to the easy tracks, but it was a blast. I can’t wait to come back someday!
The coolest thing about Winter Park Resort is that they offer SO MUCH more to do than just skiing. Even more than the activities I listed here. Here is a full list:
- Ski bike tour
- Snowshoe tour
- Snowcat tour
- Ice skating
- Hot tubbing (if staying at Zephyr Lodge)
- Gondola ride (free after 4pm)
- Eat & drink in the village
- See live music
- Happy hour at Sunspot Lodge
Literally everything was within walking distance of the resort. I can’t recommend this place enough! Have you ever been skiing?
If you’d like to see my full trip in action and behind-the-scenes, head to my Instagram page and find the highlight in my bio labeled “winter park”!
Also, all of my ski clothes were purchased at Nordstrom, from the “SNO” line via Topshop (most of it is on sale right now). My beanie with the poms was purchased on Amazon.
This trip was in partnership with Winter Park Resort, but all opinions are my own about the experience.