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Inside Line: Mary Jane & Winter Park

Mary Jane—named for a mining-era lady of the night—and its sister area, Winter Park, offer plenty of prospects for good skiing, including bumps and powder-filled bowls. Forming one of the closest major resorts to Denver, the two areas spread across five mountains and 3,078 acres. Add 3,060 feet of vertical, 30 feet of snowfall, and a direct train from Denver and it’s no wonder why the Front Range packs the place on Saturdays.
posted: 06/09/2011

Inside Line: Mary Jane & Winter Park

Powder Day: From Winter Park, ride the Zephyr Express straight to the often deep Outhouse trees. Next, lap the Super Gauge chair for tight glades and small cliffs. Crowded? Head to the Challenger lift for more trees and more bumps. Later, hit the gladed, powder-filled back side of Parsenn Bowl.

Three Days Later: The upside to the pine-beetle epidemic: It has thinned out MJ’s coin-slot-tight trees. Try the pines between Golden Spike and Sterling Way and the chutes off the Challenger lift. Then hit the Eagle Wind chair, which hides powder stashes all year long.

Park and Pipe: Five progressive parks in Winter Park let you build your skills. Begin at the starter area, move on to the Dogpatch park, and eventually land in Dark Territory, a limited-access (you have to watch a video and pay $15 extra) rail-and-jump fest.

Backcountry Access: Two gates access the backcountry, a lower one from Vasquez Cirque and an upper one off Parry’s Peak. Both lead to U.S. Highway 40, so drop a car or hitch back. The lower gate accesses trees, while the upper takes you to the big lines of Zero, First, and Second Creek. Check avalanche conditions at avalanche.state.co.us.

Weather: It’s called Winter Park for a reason. The resort often sees single-digit temps, with winds careening off the Continental Divide. March can bring either more storms or a bad sunburn.

Après: Hit the Club Car deck at MJ’s base for a pitcher of Mary Jane Ale. At the park, listen for the Derailer Bar’s train whistle, signaling 3 p.m. happy hour.

Fuel: Down a breakfast burrito at Carver’s or a raspberry-cheese croissant from the Coffee and Tea Market at WP’s Balcony House. For lunch, have a salmon BLT at Sunspot. Finish the day with steak Mazatlán at the Untamed Steakhouse or shrimp tacos at Mirasol.

Up All Night: The Winter Park Pub serves great food and drink specials, including dollar tacos on Tuesdays. Afterward, hit Smokin’ Moe’s for live blues before a nightcap at the nearby Sushi Bar.

Digs: Stay at the ski-in, ski-out Zephyr Mountain Lodge at Winter Park ($168 to $497; zmlwp.com), or rack with your brahs at the Rocky Mountain Inn, a youth hostel and B&B with a communal kitchen, bunkbeds, and internet. (Dorm beds from $19; private rooms from $53; therockymountaininn.com.)

Elevation: 12,060 feet

Vertical Drop: 3,060 feet

Snowfall: 355 inches

Acres: 3,078

Info: winterparkresort.com

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