Standing 12,000-feet atop the mountain at Winter Park in Colorado and looking down the miles-long trail to the bottom of the hill, I may have overestimated my ability. It was five years since I last skied (which was also the first time I’d skied), and I mistakenly thought it would be like riding a bike. I was wrong, and spent the afternoon falling on my bottom. At least the view was beautiful and the snow was soft!
We took a one-hour train ride from Denver to Winter Park earlier that day. We opted to stay in Denver for a night to get used to the altitude before making our way to the ski resort. The Crawford hotel, located in Denver’s historic train station was a treat. The fully renovated building boasts Instagram-worthy art deco décor, with a variety of casual to upscale dining options and coffee shops. From there we hopped on the Winter Park Express with our ski gear, passing through some of the most breath-taking mountains, springs and forests I’d ever seen. My camera was glued to the window, Instagram- storying the entire trip.
As soon as we reached Winter Park, I was asked if I was a skier, to which I regretfully replied, “I know how to ski.” And that’s how I ended up at the very peak of the mountain.
Note for anyone who learned how to ski at Blue Mountain in Ontario: Colorado has REAL mountains, with REAL fluffy snow. Take a lesson!
The next day, the staff at Winter Park Ski + Ride School could sense my nerves and paired me with the park’s most experienced instructor, a woman over seventy who was in better shape than I’ll ever be. It was like hanging out with my grandmother, if she was an Olympic athlete, which is EXACTLY who you want to teach you to ski. I was in great hands. Winter Park has private lessons, Adult and Kids group lessons, as well as guided experiences to help you get acquainted with the trails. My group’s instructor patiently taught me how to loosen up, and stand up straight, as tensing your entire body in a squat position was apparently incorrect. I was also taught how to lean into my turns and gracefully work my way down the mountain. In an hour, I’d gone from the most miserable person on the mountain to flying past my ski classmates.
With my confidence at an all-time high, I met the rest of my group (who are all excellent skiers) at Vertical Bistro & Tap to boast about my skills over to-die-for baked avocado and heavenly mac & cheese. Winter Park has over twenty restaurants to visit after you’ve worked up an appetite on the over 160 designated ski trails – from beginner (me!) to expert (me after lessons!).
On the rest of the two-night trip, I navigated those trails, half with the ski school and half with my friends. The dry crisp air makes for quite comfortable conditions unlike the humid cold we experience here in Toronto.
If skiing isn’t your thing, you can try Winter Park’s Coca Cola tubing, ice skating, shopping or just sit back at the Derailer Bar with a pint and crack up at your buddies trying to make it down the hill without a lesson.