Rock that Armband! The Ins and Outs of Uphill Skiing at Winter Park Resort

Combining the tranquility of hiking with the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing and snowboarding isn't just for the backcountry these days. Skinning up at Winter Park Resort has become increasingly popular, and it's easy to see why. Access to first tracks before the sun even comes up? Avoiding lift lines and crowds? Getting a ski in when your daytime schedule is full? Every uphill enthusiast (or soon-to-be enthusiast--we think it's hard not to get hooked once you give it a try!) has their own reason for strapping on their skins and bypassing the lift. Whether you just like the solitude of the quiet mountain, you're not able to get out when the lifts are turning, or you genuinely love the workout from "earning your turns," uphill skiing at the resort is a relatively quick and safe way to get out and enjoy the mountain. 


Winter Park Resort welcomes inbounds touring, but with a significant increase in uphill skiers these past few years, they've made it more official to help keep everyone safe and make uphill access sustainable. While the resort isn't looking to profit off of inbounds touring, they do charge $25 for an uphill access armband (good for the 2022-23 season). All proceeds from the armbands sales are donated to Grand County Search + Rescue, Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment dog teams, and Friends of Berthoud Pass

Getting your armband means you agree to the resort's uphill policy. You can read the full policy here, but we've put together a quick overview of how to safely enjoy inbounds touring this season!


  • WHEN DOES THE SEASON START? Wait for the resort to let you know when uphill access starts for the season. It varies each year. Spoiler: it's already started this season! 
  • WHAT TRAILS ARE OPEN TO UPHILL SKIERS? You can skin up any trail that is open in Winter Park, Mary Jane, and Vasquez Ridge that day (or, if you're a sunrise skinner, was open the day before). There are a few exceptions (i.e. the terrain park, double black diamond runs, Trestle, Runaway, Sluice Box, Pine Cliffs).  Village Way and Parry's Peek are fair game in the Parsenn Bowl. When the Panoramic Express is actively loading, any trails in the bowl are open to uphill skiing. Check out the uphill trail map for more specifics. 
  • WHERE ON THE TRAIL SHOULD I GO? Stay on the sides of trails, and stick to traveling two-people wide.
  • CAN I BOOT PACK? You'll need those skins! Boot packing isn't allowed (except in the Vasquez Cirque territory, but that is only available at certain times designated by ski patrol). 
  • WHAT TO AVOID Avoid trails that are actively being groomed.  Basically, just avoid snowcats and machinery in general. Stay off any trails where race training is taking place. They're fast, and you likely won't see them coming! And steer clear of any snowmaking operations/lines so we can keep that early season snowmaking coming! Snowmobile tracks are also off-limits (as tempting as they may be to hop in).
  • CAN I BRING MY DOG? Furry friends are welcome from 5pm-7am. They need to be leashed or under voice command (and cleaned up after). 
  • CAN I GO IN THE DARK? Yes! But be sure to wear a headlamp and reflective clothing. 


Now that we've covered the rules, let's talk preparation. Those who skin at the resort often will likely give you similar tips to make the most of your uphill experience:

  • Put your skins on your skis or split board at home. Then you're ready to go when you get to the resort!
  • Layer up! A moisture-wicking shirt for the way up is ideal. Layer it with a vest if it's chillier. Pack your ski jacket for the way down (or if it really cools off on your way up). If you have them, it helps to wear light gloves for the skin and switch to heavier ones for the ski down. 
  • Pack well! Be sure to pack your helmet and goggles, water, a snack, an extra dry hat, and your jacket.
  • Plan your route. Avoid trails with moguls when going uphill--they're just way less fun. If you want some bumps for the ski down, traverse over to them after your smooth uphill trek!


On the Winter Park side,  Parkway to Village Way to the top of the Prospector Lift offers a gentle incline and is great for a less aggressive climb. When you’re up for a little more of a challenge, start at Larry Sale, hit Cranmer, and end at Sunspot. If you’re really ready to push yourself, Lower Hughes-Little Pierre-Upper Hughes to Sunspot will definitely get your heart rate up!

On the Mary Jane side, the Mary Jane trail up to the Olympia lift is a steady climb that we always enjoy. If you're looking for a steeper pitch, try Sleeper (and add on Side Track or Rollins Way if you're feeling ambitious and have more time). 

Taking a quick inbounds touring lap at Winter Park Resort is one of the perks of living here in the Fraser Valley, and we take full advantage of it! We hope to run into you on the trail this season! 

Posted by Angela McDonough (Sandstrom) on


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