Best known for its tall mountains, amazing snow, and proximity to Denver, Winter Park possesses a rich cultural history that extends back to before pioneers. From its humble beginnings as an unincorporated town to one of the most famous ski areas in Colorado, Winter Park has accumulated many historical sites and accolades. Below, we’ve compiled five of our favorite little-known facts about Winter Park, Colorado. Read more about things you may not know:
Native American History
Before the arrival of the pioneers and the railroad, the Winter Park area was inhabited by nomadic tribes of Arapaho and Ute Native Americans. Traveling from the Southern plains of Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Nebraska, the Arapaho people wintered in the plains near Boulder, Colorado. The Winter Park area was also shared with Ute people, whose hunting grounds extended into Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
Not Always Winter Park
As one of Colorado’s oldest resorts, Winter Park Resort was initially named West Portal in 1940. The resort remained under control of the city of Denver until it was sold in 2002, at which time its name changed to Winter Park. Today, remnants of the old moniker can be seen in local business names such as West Portal Outfitters.
Close to Denver
Located just shy of 70 miles Northwest of Denver, Winter Park is the closest ski resort to the Denver International Airport. This makes the ski resort a popular destination for professional athletes and ski bums alike.
An Impressive Chairlift
The Panoramic Express Chairlift at the Winter Park Ski Resort has the greatest elevation of any high-speed, six-person chairlift in North America! Climbing to 12,060 feet above sea level, the views from this chairlift are indeed panoramic, as implied by its name.
Named after the woman who purchased the land the Mary Jane extension of the Winter Park Resort sits on, this area of the park is known for its steep, bumpy, and tree-filled terrain. Skiing Magazine ranked Mary Jane as the best mogul skiing area in North America. The US Olympic Freestyle Mogul Team agrees and have trained on the slopes of Mary Jane for the 1998, 2002, and 2006 Winter Olympics. The team also frequents Mary Jane during pre-season every year since 2004.