All aboard! The Winter Park Express ski train is back

Dec 11, 2021

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It may not be the Polar Express. But to skiers, it may be the next best thing. The famous Winter Park Express ski train will return in January to connect Denver with Winter Park Resort, located 67 miles and a breathtaking expanse away.

Amtrak announced that the service will begin the weekend of Jan. 14-16. It will operate every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the weekend of April 1-3.

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The Winter Park Express ski train leaves Denver’s historic Beaux Arts Union Station (DEN) at 7 a.m., arriving in Winter Park (WPR) at 9 a.m. The return train departs from Winter Park at 4:30 p.m., arriving back in Denver at 6:40 p.m. Note that since Union Station is connected by rail to Denver International Airport, it is possible to fly in and then get to the slopes entirely by rail.

(Photo courtesy of Ikon Pass)

The return of the ski train is particularly welcome news after a pandemic-related hiatus for the 2020-2021 season. This rail ride is an iconic one, and for good reason.

Related: Why Winter Park should be your next ski destination

For one thing, the two-hour journey includes some of the most beautiful and historic landscapes in the western U.S. Not only will passengers enjoy views of the Rocky Mountains as the train ascends from Denver, but they will also traverse tunnels that are nothing short of engineering marvels. One of them, the 6-mile-long Moffat Tunnel, was cut through the Continental Divide almost a century ago.

Amtrak is utilizing its two-level Superliner rail cars to service the ski train route. Passengers will enjoy panoramic views from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the upstairs car. Food and drink are available from the cafe downstairs.

If you’re riding the ski train, you can bring two carry-on items and two personal items. The good news is that skis are considered part of your carry-on baggage. They’ll ride safely along in a special baggage area, at no extra charge.

Related: Everything you need to know about this year’s ski season, from new resorts to reservation rules

Know that all passengers and employees are required to wear a mask while onboard the Winter Park Express and in train stations. Amtrak also requires a pre-trip COVID-19 check within 24 hours of departure.

For its part, Winter Park Resort has operated for more than eight decades and is consistently ranked one of the country’s top family-friendly ski destinations. As with most of the country’s ski resorts, COVID-19-related rules and requirements are less strict there than they were last season.

Read more: 7 mistakes to avoid when planning a ski trip

According to the resort’s website, there is currently no requirement for proof of vaccination to stay, dine or ski. However, unvaccinated guests must wear masks indoors — and all guests are encouraged to do the same, regardless of vaccination status.

Winter Park Resort
(Photo courtesy of Winter Park Resort)

There are currently no requirements that visitors make parking reservations (though this is not true for all popular ski resorts this winter).

Winter Park Express tickets are available through Amtrak. One-way fares start at $29, with a special rate of $14.50 for children ages 2-12.

We found a round-trip itinerary opening weekend for $68 per person.

Booking page for train journey to Winter Park. (Screenshot courtesy Amtrak)
Booking page for train journey to Winter Park. (Screenshot courtesy Amtrak)

Related: 6 things you must know before taking a first ski trip

For more information about the resort you can click here.

Featured photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post/Getty Images

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