Winter Park: ‘You have aged beautifully’ |

Winter Park: ‘You have aged beautifully’

Carolyn Flinn McCool/ Guest Opinion

Winter Park is having a birthday! You are soon to be 70, on Jan. 28. As the Barry Manilow song would say, “Looks like we made it.”

Winter Park has been around longer than many of us have been alive and it keeps surviving and reinventing itself.

This “crown jewel of the Denver Mountain Park System,” formerly called West Portal is alive and thriving. Since the early 1900s when skiing became a sensational new sport here in Colorado, a lot of changes through the ages have transpired. Did you know there once were 175 ski resorts since Colorado’s statehood and today, only around 30 operate? This is according to an awesome and informative website,

Do you recall Idlewild Ski Area (1961-86) in Hideaway Park (now downtown Winter Park), Grand Lake Ski Area (1945-77), 16 miles from Granby on Shadow Mountain, or Baker Mountain (1950-53) in Kremmling, a resort closed due to too much snow, which also offered a $70 lifetime pass?

From my stomping grounds as a child, there was Pikes Peak Ski Area (1939-1984 ) in the Springs, Holiday Hills (1965-67)near Divide, and Ski Broadmoor (1959-1991)in the Springs, also. I even learned that Berthoud Pass (1937-2001) in Winter Park was closed. Where was I to miss that?

I was wondering what happened to these resorts and came across this website. It furnishes you with ski history by the decade, information on lift companies and types of lifts, old ski maps, pictures, a ski resort guide, links, and even a store to purchase lost and open resort memorabilia.

Winter Park has been a part of a great revolution; I like to call it snow opportunities.

The Ski Train, which ran for years, will not be running this year. That is not good news, but the good news is that people want to come up to Winter Park, evidenced by the number of tickets purchased that will have to be refunded. There is one thing I like about Winter Park that is hard to find at many resorts, that it’s unassuming and chill, as my teenage son would say.

Easy to get to, just west of Denver on I-70 and north on State Route 40, one can visit for the day and return home or enjoy lodging at many fine places.

Not only to mention lodging, but the eating establishments rule. Hernando’s pizza (the Hawaiian with toasted almonds is incredible) and Azteca were places worth coming back to, and I will. Not enough time to try the highly touted Tabernash Inn, Smokin’ Moe’s Ribhouse and Saloon, and Carver’s restaurant.

The new Frasier/Winter Park Recreation Center is a hit, and will be a great addition, both to residents, as well as winter enthusiasts who come to enjoy Winter Park and Fraser, come summer or winter. One doesn’t need to drive very far to find other delights, like dude ranches and blissful lakes and mountains.

So much has changed, but so much is the same as Winter Park continues keeping and making history. From 1906 when woman’s ski fashion was ankle length skirts (can you believe it?) to the technology and precision of ski and snowboard equipment and clothing today, Winter Park will always have a storied history that has played out in one of the most beautiful, and yet still somewhat quiet, places in Colorado. Happy Birthday, Winter Park, you have aged beautifully!

Carolyn Flinn McCool loves Colorado’s playgrounds, and Winter Park and Grand County have many of them. She also loves summer when she can ride a horse in the mountains or golf and see the wide spaces and blue skies.