Take the Ski Train to Skip the Traffic and Enjoy the Views on the Winter Park Express!

If you've skied Winter Park Resort and its Seven Territories, you know it lives up to the hype. A powder day on Vasquez Ridge is about as good as it gets, and the thousands of acres of terrain make it easy to find your own little slice of paradise on any given day on the mountain. The new six-person Pioneer Lift and its mid-loading station are icing on the cake!

Those already in-the-know that Winter Park is the place to ski and ride are likely also familiar with the potential traffic on I-70 as you make your way between Winter Park and the Front Range. If you're up against ski traffic, Colorado's only direct-from-Denver-to-lift ski train, the Winter Park Express, offers a charming alternative. The "ski train" travels between Denver's Union Station and Winter Park Resort daily on winter weekends starting in January. Customize your trip to ski or ride as many days as you'd like! Take the Friday morning train up, ski or ride for the day, the weekend, or the week, and take a return trip the same day of the following weekend.


Kick back, relax and enjoy the views on one of Amtrak's four double-decker "superliner" coach cars or the new lounge car. Be sure to snag a seat in the lounge car if you can! Its windows start at the floor and wrap up to the ceiling, making it easy to soak in the scenery as the train climbs up to the Rocky Mountains. The lounge car also has snacks and drinks (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic) available for purchase, so you might not want the trip to end too soon. When the train makes it to Winter Park Resort, grab your skis and boards, walk about 100 feet, and hop on a lift - no traffic and no parking! If you're not staying at the resort or need to get around town, The Lift's free local transit system has you covered! 


The original Rio Grande ski train gots its start in 1940 as a way to transport members of the old Eskimo Ski Club (youth aged 7-17 who spent their weekends skiing at Winter Park) up from the Denver. With a hiatus during and after World War II, the ski train started its service back up, with a $2 round-trip fare and the beginning of snack and drink service. To make the trip a little more fun, quarter bets were taken on how long it would take the train to travel through the 6.2 mille Moffat Tunnel. a Moffat tunnel pool was often run, with the winner collecting all the quarters. With updates to the cars and ticket price increases throughout the years, the ski train ran all the way through the 2009 ski season. 

To celebrate Winter Park's 75th anniversary in 2015, the train was brought back for a weekend. The tickets sold out in a heartbeat, prompting Amtrak, Union Pacific, and Winter Park Resort to partner in bringing the train back! Now it runs seasonally from January to March each year. 


The approximately 60-mile trip up the mountain takes about two hours. It runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays as well as holidays starting in January. 

  • 7am: Departs Union Station
  • 9am: Arrives at Winter Park Resort 
  • 4:30pm: Departs Winter Park Resort
  • 6:40pm: Arrives at Union Station


Tickets for the 2024 season can be purchased directly from Amtrak starting late November 2023. One-way fares start at $34, with kids' fares (aged 2–12) starting at just $17. Pack your skis as a carry-on for no additional charge. During boarding, skis will be placed in a dedicated baggage storage.


The State of Colorado is investing $5 million to study Colorado's rail lines along with statewide transit connectivity. One aspect of that study will be planning for Yampa Valley's "Operation All Aboard" that hopes to bring the ski train all the way to Steamboat Springs, starting at Union Station, stopping in Winter Park, and connecting to Steamboat through Kremmling. The plans are in development stages, but the possibility of extending the route has solid potential and has sparked plenty of enthusiasm!


The ski train is a total win if you're coming up from the Front Range on the weekend, but if skipping the commute altogether is on your radar, we're here to help you find your ideal mountain property. Reach out to learn more about what life in Grand County is like, learn about local neighborhoods and subdivisions, get on listing alerts, or check out properties on the market!

Posted by Leah Bishop on


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