Winter Park named top adventure town in Colorado for second year in a row
With outdoor options ranging from hiking, biking, camping, skiing, snowmobiling and much more, it seems there’s an adventure for every season and interest in Winter Park. That variety has earned the town the distinction of Elevation Outdoors’ top adventure town in Colorado for the second consecutive year.
Elevation Outdoors wrote that no other place came close to Winter Park when it came to the top adventure town, thanks to the world-class resorts and thousands of acres of public lands.
“It’s a confirmation of the work we’ve been doing and it’s a reflection of our community, our culture and our character,” said Winter Park Mayor Jimmy Lahrman. “I think it speaks again to the offerings that Winter Park has.”
Aside from all of the options at Winter Park Resort, the town also has hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and biking, several campgrounds, backcountry adventures and a close proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Lahrman said the sheer scope and variety of adventure options draws people to Winter Park, but he also believes that visitors have noticed how the town has prioritized outdoor recreation options.
“Our citizens made it a priority in our Imagine Winter Park plan and I think that in order to satisfy the constituents and build the kind of community that we’re hearing people want, it’s important for us to make sure those offerings continue to be available,” he said.
Plus, outdoor adventures are more than just the activities available in Winter Park, said executive director of the Winter Park Fraser Chamber of Commerce Catherine Ross, it’s the town’s brand.
Ross said the Colorado Unfiltered tagline that Winter Park recently adopted emphasizes the strengths of the area.
“You can just leave from Main Street and hit the trails and be up high in no time, you don’t have to drive your car to get on to a trail and experience an adventure,” she explained. “If you’re coming to enjoy the outdoors, you don’t have to be hardcore and you don’t have to push all the limits, it’s just people who enjoy their natural surroundings will always enjoy Winter Park.”
Both Lahrman and Ross also emphasized the community’s contribution to the honor, since residents promote their favorite trails and territory, as well as create a welcoming environment for visitors.
And while shopping may not be what initially draws visitors to Winter Park, Ross said local shops and restaurants play an important part in guests’ adventures.
“I think it’s an adventure just to come and be in town and try a new restaurant,” she said. “We have some really cool places to go to after your adventure and share your stories, so I think that that’s really a reason we’ve become a top adventure town. People who are here, even if it’s just for a day, feel like a local.”
According to Lahrman, the town is taking steps to keep the distinction by continuing to invest in its trails and public lands and implementing parts of the town’s master plan, Imagine Winter Park, that focus on recreation and the environment.
“We’ve created a plan we continue to fund it and we continue to implement parts of it,” Lahrman said. “I think that’s really how we keep the distinction alive is by creating funding sources for that and putting a priority on it in our budget.”
Ross added that the chamber will continue to market all of the outdoor recreation, as well as support local recreation businesses, to help solidify Winter Park’s brand.
“(Adventure) already is one of our pillars, so to really surround it and build up our brand so that we become even more recognizable nationally and internationally for all the good stuff we have here,” she said.
If you’re not sure where to start, Lahrman and Ross both recommend skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.
“I can tell you that once you get out here, if you do your homework, you won’t be disappointed,” Lahrman said. “The biggest thing is to trust that everything here is at your fingertips and yes, you can ask 100 different locals and they will give you 100 different favorite trails.”
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