The weekend ski train to Winter Park Resort is finally returning this year

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Winter Park Resort and Amtrak will run a passenger train from Denver Union Station to the slopes of the ski mountain on weekends this winter. They’re reviving a tradition with a long history in Colorado.

(UPDATE: We’ve got more details about price and timing here.)

A westbound "ski train" in Tabernash, Colorado in 1940. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/OP-11288)

A westbound "ski train" in Tabernash, Colorado in 1940, west of Winter Park. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/OP-11288)

The partnership, also working with Union Pacific Railroad, will give more details at 11 a.m. Thursday, according to a spokesman for the resort.

The service hasn’t run regularly since 2009, but did offer roundtrip rides for $75 on two days last year.

Ski trains were crucial to the growth of the sport in the 1930s.

And the Winter Park train was one of just a few to survive past the 1970s, according to Skiing History.

Until 1932, Berthoud Pass couldn’t be driven through most of the winter, according to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, which meant that the newly built Moffat Tunnel and the railway through it was the only way to get to all the snow on the western side of the Continental Divide, according to the museum.

That train wasn’t really meant for skiers at first. At first they literally jumped off of the moving cars to do their skiing, according to the museum. Eventually, that turned into regular service.

And in the winter of 1939-40, when the city of Denver opened Winter Park resort, the railroad ran straight to it, according to Skiing History.

World War II interrupted the service, but otherwise it continued straight through until 2009, despite losing money for its last couple decades, when it was owned by the billionaire Phillip Anschutz’s Ansco Investment Co.

The revival effort is being helped along with a $1.5 million state grant to improve the platform at the ski area, the Associated Press reported.

Nostalgia aside, this thing could be pretty convenient.

Expect the trip to take about two hours each way. That’s about as fast as I’d hope to get to Winter Park by car in good conditions.

The big “if” for many people will be the price. Round-trip tickets cost $75 in last year’s revival, and $59 toward the end of the regular service in the 2000s.

That works well for your occasional trip, at least at my income bracket, but I’d have a hard time doing it every weekend. Of course, skiing and snowboarding are one of the most privileged activities imaginable, so no complaints here.