The following was brought to us by Pietro Simonetti of Good Ski Guide.
Day after day I scoped out the Rocky Mountains from the Boulder flats. Or more precisely, the bare Rocky Mountains. It was early January and there was more snow down in the Front Range than the high peaks. Freaky strange. That’s why when a fast-passing storm was predicted to clip Colorado, I had to take my chances and hope that the snow gods would come through for us flake-hungry skiers.
My four-year-old daughter Isabella and my seven-year-old niece Madilyn were my trusted companions in this unexpected adventure to Winter Park. I-70 was strangely traffic-free and moving fast as we ascended. Unusual for a Saturday morning commute to the high country. Snow started coming down at Empire, at the US40 Junction. The flashing billboard was a positive sign: “Road Icy and Snow Packed.” Positive? I have to admit I get pumped by such warnings. Of course I heed them and drive accordingly—especially with my young charges aboard—but I also regard them as good omens and signals of a sure powder day.
Recently upgraded Berthoud Pass was not great, but still a vast improvement over the original road. A double lane on each ascent allows slow and fast drivers—and patient and impatient skiers—to pick their risks. With the girls in the back I took my time, sang a few carols with them and arrived happily and safely at the Cabriolet’s parking lot.
Winter Park has done family skiing right. Instead of cramming into a bus, trying to manage skis, boards and kids, families can instead cover the short distance from the parking space to the Cabriolet gondola, board the suspended basket at their speed, and arrive safely and hassle free into the village. Waiting is a fleet of Radio Flyer wagons ready for kids, skis, bags, and anything else you want to fit in them. A short meandering road—warmed with radiant heat—takes you through the village to the base of the ski area.
My daughter has been skiing for two years and I have taken her to at least a dozen resorts in Colorado. But for all the great hills and resorts this Colorado kid has enjoyed, she keeps asking to go back to the red Radio Flyer resort. And for good reason. Where else does Daddy give you a wagon ride to the chairlift? What a fantastic idea.
We skied Gemini and Prospector all day, with the storm dumping an appreciated 6.5 inches. The girls had big smiles, and it wasn’t an easy task pulling them away from the mountain. My daughter kept saying “five more, five more.” Now she might’ve meant one, but I don’t blame her for asking for five. That’s a perfect day in the Park if you ask me. A final treat for both of them was the Recreational Park by the Radio Flyer fleet. Coming down a slide in ski boots made for a special fast ride. One they will always remember. Two tired kids sleeping in the back, and big flakes still coming down made for one very happy dad. Thanks, Winter Park.