Winter Park Express train remains a hit with Front Range skiers | SkyHiNews.com

Winter Park Express train remains a hit with Front Range skiers

Despite unseasonably warm weather, skiers are still flocking to Winter Park Resort.

That's what the resort's president, Gary DeFrange, told the Winter Park Town Council on Feb. 21. He said lodging reservations are not slowing down, with or without the thaw. He noted that one struggle the resort is having is the Front Range crowd that stays in Denver, if it is 70 degrees there, rather than drive to Winter Park to ski.

DeFrange said the Winter Park Express is still doing well, however. The iconic train that travels from Denver's Union Station to Winter Park Resort has completed 16 of its 26 scheduled trips this season. DeFrange said the train is seeing its largest numbers on Saturdays when seats often sell out. The first five of six Saturdays that the train has been in operation have sold out. Winter Park and Amtrak officials suggest Sunday departures for potential passengers because of the popularity of Saturdays.

DeFrange said that since Amtrak is allowing passengers to buy one-way tickets, the train must leave room for passengers that arrive in Winter Park on Saturday, plan to stay the night, and return to Denver on Sunday. This can be a challenge, but DeFrange said they have been able to adjust accordingly.

The council asked DeFrange if he had seen any issue with the Winter Park Express connecting with the RTD A-Line that runs from Denver International Airport to Union Station, and has experienced several issues since it opened. DeFrange said he has not personally heard of any issues from skiers who sought to travel from the airport to Winter Park Resort by train.

DeFrange said Winter Park Resort would meet with Amtrak in late March to debrief on the overall success of the Winter Park Express.

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The Winter Park Express has gained several corporate partners, including Noosa Yoghurt, Clif Bar and Koebel & Company. The new partners will provide product samples and information to the Amtrak passengers to and from the resort, according to a press release from Winter Park.

On Saturday, March 4, eight children participating in a program with the Winter Park-based National Sports Center for the Disabled and Children's Hospital of Colorado will be celebrating their upcoming graduation by riding the Winter Park Express train for a ski trip. Participants in the Denver hospital's ARCH program have conditions ranging from spinal cord or brain injury, to long-term illnesses and conditions such as cerebral palsy, cancer and spina bifida. The group began in 1970 by providing ski lessons for children and each year more than 3,000 children and adults with disabilities participate in its programs.

On Saturday, March 18, a group of 10 disabled veterans from Veterans Affairs in Denver will ride the train to spend a weekend skiing Winter Park. The program is organized by the National Sports Center to provide veterans with disabilities enhanced quality of life through sports. The veterans will return to Denver on the Sunday, March 19.

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