Sometimes it’s good to break the routine, to go somewhere different and to revisit a place you think you know. If you think Winter Park, Colorado is just about Winter Park and Mary Jane, it’s time for another visit.
Like a ski boot clicked into a binding, Winter Park and Mary Jane are linked. It’s hard to think of one without the other.
Together, they’ve complemented one another for nearly 40 years, providing outstanding teaching and learning terrain on one hand, with “no pain, no Jane” challenges on the other.
But while many people don’t realize it, these two well-known territories within the larger resort are only a small part of the total Winter Park experience.
The Season of the Seven
Although Winter Park has long had seven distinct areas, each with a unique skiing or riding experience, the 2013-14 season marks the first time these territories have been officially promoted. They call it The Season of the Seven.
In addition to Winter Park and Mary Jane, visitors to Colorado’s fourth-largest resort will find new signage and information about five lesser-known resort territories: Vasquez Ridge, Parsenn Bowl, Eagle Wind, The Cirque and the Terrain Park.
“Most people just think of Winter Park and Mary Jane,” explains Jodie Silva, Winter Park Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “We found that even loyal customers weren’t familiar with all seven territories on our mountain.”
New base and on-mountain signage will quickly catch the attention of most visitors. Coordinated with the trail maps and website, each territory sports its own unique logo and color which will make navigating the mountain much easier for skiers and snowboarders.
Challenging or Chill?
For a quick introduction to the Season of the Seven, check out the resort’s new website. A blank trail map, with a “Chill to Challenging” slider helps visitors choose the best territory for their style, while providing statistics and a list of “7 Must Do Experiences” within each area.
Slide the bar all the way to “challenging” and the resort recommends you visit the double-black-diamond Cirque, 1,332 acres of extreme in bounds terrain with a backcountry feel.
Scoot the slider back just a little and the website highlights Eagle Wind, home to some of the resort’s best tree and glade skiing.
Back off just a touch more toward “chill” and you’ll find Mary Jane.
Given Mary Jane’s expert reputation, it’s a bit surprising to find this territory nearly half way between “challenging” and “chill.” But with a combination of intermediate and advanced runs, it’s not all pain over at the Jane.
Mid-spectrum, guests will find the resort’s Terrain Park, with progressive features for every ability.
Moving into full “chill,” the territories include Parsenn Bowl, an intermediate alpine bowl served by North America’s highest six pack; Vasquez Ridge, a haven for powder hounds hunting secret stashes; and Winter Park territory, with runs to challenge everyone from beginner to advanced and the base camp for the resort’s ski and ride school.
A Season of Deals and Excitement
In addition to new signage and mapping, The Season of the Seven carries over into every aspect of on-mountain operation from food and beverage to the ski and ride school.
On-mountain restaurants have new themed menus, featuring dishes specific to each territory. The ski and ride school is offering territory specific lessons and clinics. Kids taking lessons can earn helmet stickers for each territory they ski or ride. And, there is gear: everything from pint glasses to collect, to exclusive clothing and headgear featuring the seven new logos.
Other changes to look for include a monthly Season of the Seven lodging deal, available on the Winter Park Resort website, and the Cirque Sled. For just $10 you can catch a ride to the Cirque, rather than hiking. And that $10 is payable only once, for the entire season.
Jodie Silva believes that the Season of the Seven is really about a total revamp of the guest experience.
“There’s no start and stop to the Season of the Seven concept,” she explains. “Instead, we are focused on delivering a 360-degree experience for our visitors. The territories are not just about the terrain, but about enhancing the guest experience within each geographic area.”
Visit Anew, Visit Again
One of the primary goals is to entice new skiers, and lure former skiers back, to the resort.
Winter Park Resort is a convenient destination for out-of-state skiers. It’s an easy drive from DIA and one of the few Colorado resorts accessible by Amtrak. But since Colorado skiers and riders often lock into their season passes early, they rarely venture to other resorts. This means some Colorado locals may not have visited Winter Park in years and have no idea how it has changed.
Three years ago, my husband and I visited Winter Park Resort for the first time in twenty years. The resort is a long ride from our Western Slope home. After three days exploring the mountain, we were blown away.
We hiked to ski the Cirque. We cruised through Parsenn Bowl. We wound our way through the trees at Eagle Wind and skied bumps on Mary Jane until our legs were jelly. We discovered unexpected steep runs, abundant with moguls, on the Winter Park side. My husband even competed in a race benefiting the National Sports Center for the Disabled.
One evening, while relaxing in the new-to-us Village, we admitted that we didn’t know Winter Park and Mary Jane at all. The resort was so much more than we remembered. The next year, we made the long drive again, with our kids.
Later, when you’re enjoying an après beer in a Season of the Seven glass, say to yourself the words “Winter Park.”
What comes to mind?
It might just not be Mary Jane.
Portions of this post originally published at MTN Town Magazine, Winter 2014.
- Winter Park and Mary Jane: Colorado Family Skiing at its Best, November 10, 2011.
- Ski Trip Report: More Than Expected at Winter Park, Colorado, January 18, 2012.
- Why My Loves Skiing at Winter Park, Colorado, March 18, 2011.
© 2014, Kristen Lummis. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.