Winter Park Unveils Monster Development Plan, Includes Gondola Connection to Town, Vasquez Ridge Expansion
Alterra’s third recent mega-resort development plan underscores long-term strategy to fully develop owned assets
To support independent ski journalism, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Organizations can email firstname.lastname@example.org to add multiple users on one account at a per-subscriber enterprise rate.
Winter Park unveils monster master plan as Alterra steers toward mega-resort development
This was the template: find a mountain, slash some runs, prop up some lifts. At the base, clear a parking lot. A big one. Maybe two or three or 10. Are they all driving here? Of course they are. This is America. We drive, damn it. Do we look like a bunch of train-riding pansies to you? Like we’re French or something? Like we sit around losing wars and not owning eight-wheel drive pick-up trucks? This is the way we goddamn do it here, OK?
I mean not really. It’s kind of a stupid way to build a country, it turns out. Traffic everywhere, all the time, on narrow mountain roads that were never built for it and can’t be engineered to manage it. I-70, both Cottonwood canyons, state highway 410 and US 2 in Washington, Vermont 100 and 108. Notorious, ever-clogged, predictable as they are miserable. Not that cars aren’t great. But trying to use them all the time and for every voyage is like – and let me summon an analogy real-ass U.S. Americans can relate to here – using the same gun for every mission: squirrel hunting, busting up a crime scene, shooting an elephant, downing an F-15. You need to mix it up a little.
And that is exactly what Winter Park’s new master plan would do: redistribute skier entry points with a three-gondola connection between the resort center and the town of Winter Park. The plan would also develop 358 acres of skiable terrain on Vasquez Ridge served by three high-speed six-packs and a T-bar, add a new learning center near the Discovery lift, and replace a half dozen existing lifts, including Pioneer Express and a pair of old double chairs on Mary Jane. Here’s an overview of the proposed upgrades and additions (all images below are best viewed on desktop):
And here’s a visual:
For context, here’s Winter Park’s existing (and very difficult to read) trailmap:
It’s an ambitious plan, and this is step one of about 12,000. The resort is currently seeking public comment before submitting the plan to the U.S. Forest Service for acceptance (you can email comments to 2022MDP@winterparkresort.com). We are likely years from seeing any element of this live on the hill. But the master plan, considered alongside ongoing mega-projects at Steamboat and Palisades Tahoe, is a strong statement from Winter Park operator Alterra (the city of Denver owns the resort) that they are committed to transforming their existing ski areas into modern resorts that reduce stress on local roads and spread skiers across the broadest possible area with sprawling, efficient lift systems.
Winter Park hopes to implement some version of this plan, which replaces its 2005 master plan, over the next 10 to 15 years. While we’re waiting, here’s a deeper look at this first draft, how it would transform the ski area, and what it would mean for Alterra and Ikon Pass holders:
Below the subscriber jump: charts and analysis detailing each step of Winter Park’s expansion plan; a list of the top 10 Indy ski areas by redemptions in 2021-22; a new ski area joins Powder Alliance (it’s not even listed on the PA website yet); a new entrant into the Best Reciprocal Season Passes in America list; a New York and West Coast spring skiing update; Vail loosens the reins on social media; and more.