Winter Park Eyes Massive Expansion Including In-Town Gondola

Winter Park Eyes Massive Expansion Including In-Town Gondola

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Winter Park Eyes Massive Expansion Including In-Town Gondola

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The Alterra Mountain Company, the owner of Winter Park Resort, is spending a ginormous amount of money transforming mountains like Palisades Tahoe and Steamboat Resort. It now looks like Winter Park is rising up on their priority list. The Colorado ski resort recently announced its 2022 Master Development Plan, which would make the already massive property the third largest ski resort in Colorado. If everything in this plan is approved, 358 skiable acres could be added, and the number of lifts would go from 23 to 29. The new master plan includes a gondola that connects the town to the resort, expanding onto Vasquez Mountain, lift replacements, summer attractions, six hundred acres of additional snowmaking coverage, new and expanded lodges, and more.

Town Gondola and Cooper Creek: The bombshell in the master plan involves a gondola that starts in the town of Winter Park. The base terminal would be near the in-town parking garage and end at Cooper Creek. Winter Park is proposing a ten-person detachable gondola that would travel over 1200 vertical feet, and carry 3600 passengers per hour. A new ski trail could be constructed that will allow skiers to travel back down to the town of Winter Park. Eventually, an eight-person gondola could extend past Cooper Creek and go to the new Gemini Express and Discovery Park Learning Center, which is discussed below.

Cooper Creek would be a new terrain pod with 35 acres of beginner and intermediate runs. The chairlift would go from the initial ending of the town gondola and stop on the Wagon Train trail between the base terminals of the Olympia and Pioneer Express. This lift would be a high-speed detachable quad with a capacity of 2400 riders per hour.

Vasquez Mountain Expansion: The brand new Vasquez Mountain Zone would be set in between the Pioneer Express, Eagle Wind chairlift, and the Cirque. This pod would feature mostly intermediate terrain, but there is the possibility of some advanced runs too. Three lifts are part of the plans for this pod. Two of these would be six-pack detachable chairlifts that access the new runs. The third lift would be another detachable six-pack, bringing skiers and riders up to the terrain pod from the bottom of the Pioneer Express, with a ride time of around three minutes. A 16,000 square foot lodge is also part of the plans and could have different food and beverage options, warming space, restrooms, and an office for Ski Patrol. Snowmaking would be added to seven trails.

An additional lift would give access to the Cirque, which has been one of the challenging parts of the mountain to reach due to it being a long hike. A t-bar is being proposed from the top of the new Vasquez Mountain lifts.

New/Replacement Lifts: The Pioneer Express, which was previously approved for a replacement last summer, is a top priority. The detachable quad chairlift will be replaced by a high-speed six-pack and will include a mid-station loading area.

The master plan proposes the removal of The Gemini Express, a four-person detachable quad. It would be replaced by the Gemini Gondola, an eight-person lift that would go further up than its predecessor and will end at the top of the Discovery Park Learning Center and the planned additional stage of the town gondola. The Discovery Park Learning Center will potentially add multiple surface lifts to give newbies their first taste of big mountain skiing. Other possible lift replacement proposals in that area include the Endeavor chairlift with a detachable quad and Discovery with a quad chairlift. Also part of the MDP is a new 16,000 building square foot building that would be at the top of the new Gemini Gondola. This could feature food options, restrooms, and a ski school. Over at Mary Jane, two lifts remain from their initial opening: Iron Horse and Pony Express. It would be replaced by a six-person detachable chairlift and could have a mid-station unload terminal that services the trails currently accessed by the Pony Express.

New Summer Additions: The Trestle Mountain Bike Park has one of the largest trail systems in North America. Following the completion of Phase Two this summer, there will be forty miles of gravity-fed trails. With the new lifts and terrain zones, 34 miles of new biking trails are being proposed. These trails would be added to  Copper Creek(12 miles), Vasquez Mountain Zone(12 miles), and near the top of Pioneer and Olympia Express(10 miles).

With only two current hiking trails, they are looking to expand this activity. Some new trails will possibly ” take guests from Sunspot up to Lunch Rock and further into Parsenn Bowl and around the Vasquez Cirque.” Additional trails could be set below the new town gondola. The hikes would be sculpted away from Trestle Bike Park in order to avoid collisions. Additional activities proposed include ziplines and aerial rope courses.

Click here to read Winter Parks Master Development Plan in full. The public can submit comments to 2022MDP@winterparkresort.com.  Jen Miller of Winter Park’s PR Department told me that they expect the master plan to be accepted by the U.S. Forest Service. If approved, the master plan will go through the NEPA(National Environmental Policy Act) as soon as this summer.Image Credits: Winter Park Resort

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