The Amtrak line has been revived, connecting downtown Denver to the mountains starting today.
We love skiing, but it’s not without its hassles: the clunky gear, the layers (and layers) of clothing, the frigid cold all those layers are meant to fight but somehow never do. There’s also the little fact that the ski slopes tend to be less than convenient, in out-of-the-way spots that are rarely reachable by public transportation. Getting to Colorado’s mountains are an especially un-fun challenge: Should you rent a car and make the drive, hoping passes aren’t snowed in? Take a jumper flight in questionable weather? Or pile the family into a shuttle?
But wait. Denver is tired of all that negativity. Starting today, it’s possible to get from the the city’s downtown to a ski slope in two hours, for $39, by train (which, as we all know, is the best way to travel).
Re-launching after a seven-year hiatus—it previously ran from 1912 (!) to 2009—Amtrak’s Winter Park Express connects downtown Denver’s historic Union Station to the platform right at the Front Range’s Winter Park Resort, about 90 miles from Denver International. From now through March 26, the train will operate Saturdays and Sundays, plus the Mondays of Martin Luther King Jr. and President’s Day holiday weekends. The service leaves Union Station at 7 a.m., arriving in Winter Park at 9 a.m.; and then it makes the return trip from the slopes at 4:30 p.m. That means you can take advantage of a full day of skiing and still make it back to town in time for dinner.
As for getting between Denver International Airport and downtown—a trip of about 25 miles, which translates to a $30-plus Uber ride—that no longer requires a car either. In April, the city launched a new electric commuter rail line that carries fliers between the airport and Union Station in 37 minutes. Trains depart every 15 minutes for most of the day, and a bit less frequently in the earliest hours of the morning and late at night. (It doesn’t run at all from 1:30 a.m. to 3:15 a.m., but you should be sleeping then, anyway.) The train cars go upwards of 79 miles an hour, making six stops along the route.
Once you’re in Denver, you may find you don’t even want to leave the station before catching that 7 a.m. train to the slopes the next morning. The 122-year-old terminal debuted a major $54 million renovation in the summer of 2014, adding new restaurants, retail, and The Crawford Hotel, a boutique spot that takes its design cues from the heyday of train travel in the U.S. and the romance of the American frontier.