Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
A First Timer’s Guide to Winter Park, Colorado
Updated: Updated article October 2018, First published in 2015
A First Timer’s Guide to Winter Park, Colorado
Planes, Trains & Automobiles is one of my favorite movies of all times. Released in 1987 (probably before you were born) this movie stars Steve Martin and John Candy. The storyline revolves around Neal Page (Steve Martin) who only wants to get home in time for Thanksgiving. Neal is thrown into Del Griffith (The late great John Candy) life because of bad weather and worse luck. The two travel from New York to Chicago and as their adventure comes together Neal discovers more about humanity and life from charismatic Del.
From the movie:
State Trooper: What the hell are you driving here?
Del: We had a small fire last night, but we caught it in the nick of time.
State Trooper: Do you have any idea how fast you were going?
Del: Funny enough, I was just talking to my friend about that. Our speedometer has melted, and as a result, it’s very hard to see with any degree of accuracy exactly how fast we were going.
Your adventure to Winter Park should be easier, and we hope you discover a little about humanity & life along with your journey in our First Timer’s Guide to Winter Park, Colorado.
If you’re flying in from out of state and arrive at Denver International Airport you can rent a car and drive up, take local transportation service like Home James or Colorado Tour Transportation, or you can take public transportation from DIA to Union Station in downtown Denver and ride the Amtrak Ski Train (the Winter Park Express) to Winter Park, Colorado.
Winter Park Resort is only 89 miles from Denver International Airport.
Like my tie to Planes, Trains & Automobiles there?
Once you get here, public transportation is available. Click here for a map of the Winter Park Bus Schedule.
- The Town of Winter Park, Colorado is relatively new, having only been incorporated August 1, 1978. Winter Park comes from humble beginnings, the town was originally the village of Hideaway Park. More about Hideaway park below.
- Linus Oliver “Doc” Graves family moved to the Fraser Valley in 1922 to open a drugstore in Tabernash, Colorado. Tabernash is located just 12 miles north of Winter Park on Highway 40. When the Moffat tunnel was built in 1928 the road over Rollins Pass was no longer needed. Lumber production came to a screeching halt in the Tabernash area and the Graves Family moved their Drugstore south to the Town of Fraser, Colorado. The Town of Fraser is the Northern boundary of the Town of Winter Park. Some tourists don’t even know they’ve left Winter Park and entered Fraser.
- With the expansion of Victory Highway (U.S. Highway 40) which expanded in the town of Fraser, the Graves were uprooted and closed their drugstore. The highway expansion ran right through the middle of their building. The Graves family then purchased a few acres south of Fraser and built cabins that hosted travelers, hunters and early vacationers to the Fraser Valley. They named their lodging community Hideaway Park.
- Winter Park, Colorado is the highest incorporated town in the United States: Although the town center is at about 9,000 feet, Winter Park, using administrative boundaries as a measure, became the highest incorporated town in the United States after the July 2006 annexation of 5,214 acres (21.10 km2) of Winter Park Ski Resort to allow new on-mountain improvements. Source: Wikipedia
Where to stay:
So you want to know where to stay on your first trip to Winter Park. There’s just about every option and price range for your next stay in Winter Park. Depending on your budget you can stay on the low by booking a studio condo if the whole family is making the trip you might want to upgrade to an entire house.
There are luxury houses you can book that feature 10 plus bedrooms. We have homes in Rendezvous, and downtown Winter Park that sleeps 10, search our Winter Park Vacation Rentals.
You can save tons of money if you’re on a budget by staying further away from the resort. The town of Fraser features really nice lodging that you can book at a fraction of the cost to be on the mountain.
You’ll still see the name Hideaway Park where the Town of Winter Park is located now on older maps.
Hideaway Park today is a park located in the downtown area of Winter Park. Hideaway Park is the location of many of the Fraser Valley summer concert series, like Solshine Festival, Blues from the Top, Winter Park Music Festival, Jazz Festival and many more small concerts. In fact, the Town of Winter Park commissioned the building of a permanent stage that will host year-round activities.
Take a hike:
A must in the summer to walk, bike, hike, and skate down the Fraser River Trail, during the winter this same trail is groomed for cross-country skiing. The Fraser River trailhead is located at Winter Park Ski Resort. The trail follows the Fraser River to the Town of Fraser and ends at The Fraser Outdoor Activity Center which houses Headwaters Trails Alliance. You can continue along the trail which is now called the Fraser to Granby Trail but the grooming ends at this area. The trail from the Winter Park Resort to The Fraser Outdoor Activity center is approximately 6 miles and mostly downhill from the resort.
The nom nom’s
- Sharky’s Eatery: You’ve got to stop by Sharky’s Eatery in Fraser, a must for the First Timer’s Guide to Winter Park Colorado! We love their Colorado green chili smothered breakfast burritos! Sharky’s is located in Fraser, Colorado at 221 Doc Susie Avenue. If you show up on a weekend you’ll likely be waiting in line, it’s that good!
- Elevation Pizza: Got to have pizza when you’re on vacation, my favorite is the SMOP from Elevation Pizza. SMOP is an acronym for sausage, mushroom, onion and pepperoni. Elevation Pizza is locally owned by an awesome family that continually gives back to the community. So not only do I think they have the best pizza in the area but a portion of your money will likely be given back to the community. Karma my friends! Also located in Fraser, in the Murdoch’s shopping center, and you can stop by and say hello to us! Our office is located on the second level above Elevation Pizza.
- Tabernash Tavern: For dinner, I’m going to take you further north to the Town of Tabernash where you’ll find the Tabernash Tavern. This fine dining establishment offers up an international mix of appetizers, entrees, soups salads, and desserts. All inspired creations from Executive Chef Alberto Sapien.
The menu changes seasonally so I’m not going to recommend a specific dish. The Tabernash Tavern is located at 72287 US Highway 40, Tabernash, CO 80478 Phone: 970-726-4430
The Foundry Cinema & Bowl is the only movie theater and bowling alley in the county and is actually located in the Town of Fraser but you’d never know you’ve left Winter Park. The movie theater has two screens and there are eight lanes of bowling. The ladies room is themed in Marilyn Monroe motif with hot pink underlit counters and a large painting of Marilyn.
A must do:
If you do nothing else visit Winter Park Resort, because you’re probably reading this blog to know more about world-class skiing and downhill mountain biking.
So let’s talk about it.
Winter Park Ski Resort is a world class resort with more than a million skier visits per year. The Resort features 3,081 skiable acres, 143 designated trails and 1,212 acres of off-site terrain which includes Vasquez Cirque and glade skiing. The Winter Park Ski Resort also features 25 chairlifts and an average yearly snowfall of over 350”. So why wouldn’t you make Winter Park your next ski vacation
So you can see from my post that the First Timer’s Guide to Winter Park, Colorado is more about a community than just one town. That’s what we are here in the Fraser Valley, in my opinion, the Best Community there is.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in this series of a First Timer’s Guide to Winter Park Colorado.