Unless you stay "on-mountain," getting to and from the ski slopes is always a schlep. You face snowy or icy roads in the morning on the way in, and on the way out there's usually traffic. Plus, nothing is more soporific than being in a warm car after a day on the slopes. I know I've felt like nodding off while headed home from a tiring day of snowboarding. All of which adds up to a less-than-fun (and potentially dangerous) ride home.
But if you live in Denver and want to go skiing or snowboarding at Winter Park Resort, you can take the train. Amtrak is now running the Winter Park Express from the city's Union Station terminal to the mountain. The train covers 56 miles, most of it uphill, as it climbs 4,000 feet and travels through almost 30 tunnels, including the famous Moffat Tunnel, which burrows under the Continental Divide.
As you might expect, the views are great (check them out after 10:00 in the video above), and you can take time to enjoy them on your way to Winter Park. The two-hour return trip leaves at 4:30 p.m. and as James M. Souby, president of the Colorado Rail Passenger Association told CNN, "The views are stupendous as you look out over Denver and the plains beyond, often by moon and starlight."
The train runs round-trips on both Saturdays and Sundays (plus two Monday holidays) until March 26, and tickets cost $39 to $59. The new Amtrak route replaces a privately owned train service called the Ski Train, which ran from 1940 to 2009. Locals and Amtrak employees lobbied for several years to get the route back.
There are a few other train rides that will take you to ski centers in the U.S.: Amtrak's Empire Builder stops in Whitefish, Montana, and you can take a shuttle to the mountain. Further west, the California Zephyr brings you close to Lake Tahoe and the Glenwood Springs stop is close to both Vail and Aspen, Colorado.
But the Winter Park Express is special: "It's the only rail connection that takes you to the ski lifts themselves," Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told CNN. Just think: Enjoy the views on the way up, and have a solid nap on the way home from the mountain. Sounds perfect to me.