How to Get to the Mountains This Winter

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We all love North Denver, but one of the great things about our community is our proximity to the mountains and ability to easily get away from the city! This winter, there are lots of ways to get up to the mountains for skiing, riding, or other winter pursuits, with or without a car. We’ve compiled some of the usual options as well as some new ones to consider below. 


The Winter Park Express returns this year for the first time since the pandemic started. Operated by Amtrak, the train departs from Denver Union Station at 7 a.m. and carries passengers on the scenic two hour trip up to the new train platform installed a mere 150 feet away from the ski lifts at the base of the Winter Park Ski Resort. The train departs the resort at 4:30 p.m. to make for an easy day trip from Denver. Passengers also have the option to buy tickets to spend Friday and/or Saturday night at the resort and return the next day on the train. For young and older railfans, some of the highlights of the trip include scenic views of Denver and the front range foothills, as well as a trip through the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel underneath the Continental Divide. The train also boasts a sightseeing car as well as a cafe that serves drinks and snacks. Fares start at $29 and the train runs Jan. 14-April 3. The train runs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

While not as well suited for day trips, Amtrak also offers train service to ski resorts via the California Zephyr. The train has daily departures from Denver Union Station to Fraser (with bus transfers available to Winter Park) and Glenwood Springs (with bus transfers available to Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and
Aspen Highlands). 


Starting Dec. 11, the Colorado Department of Transportation is bringing its Snowstang bus service back for the 2021-2022 ski season. Departing from Denver Union Station and the Denver Federal Center, this bus service runs to Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, and Copper Mountain, with tickets starting at $25 round trip, and Steamboat with tickets starting at $40 roundtrip. Amenities on Bustang include wifi, usb/power outlets, luggage bays for ski gear and suitcases, and bike racks. Reservations are recommended and further details along with the schedules are available at

RTD also offers bus service to Eldora Ski Resort. You can take the Flatiron Flyer (FF1 Route) from Denver Union Station to the Downtown Boulder Station. From there you can take the NB Route bus straight to Eldora. Eldora also offers their own shuttle bus from the Boulder Justice Center Parking Lot. Additional details are available at


For Denverites who want to get above traffic, there are plenty of airlines flying to the ski resorts. Denver Air Connection is the only airline to offer a direct flight from Denver into the Telluride airport (TEX), the highest commercial airport in the United States. Southwest Airlines recently started flying to Steamboat Springs/Hayden airport with round trip flights as low as $78 this winter, though you’ll still have to rent a car or take a $66 round trip shuttle to get from the airport into town. United Airlines and their partners also fly to Aspen, Eagle/Vail, Steamboat Springs/Hayden, Gunnison/Crested Butte, Durango, and Montrose. Be aware that when the snow conditions for skiing are best, snow storms can make it hard to get into some of the mountain airports, especially Aspen, Telluride, and Eagle/Vail. Those flights are often cancelled or delayed due to inclement weather so you may find it quicker to drive.

As with all types of public transportation, the federal mask mandate is required on all buses, trains, and planes, and is extended through at least Jan. 18, 2022. 

Driving and Carpooling

For those wanting to brave traffic and drive themselves or carpool with friends, there is one new option this season for drivers. The I-70 Westbound Mountain Express lane opened this summer, and allows drivers to choose a toll/express lane between the Veterans Memorial Tunnel and the Empire Junction to speed up their journey when traffic is crowded in one of the two free general purpose lanes. It is available on select dates when traffic volumes are high. The I-70 Eastbound Mountain Express lane will continue to be available on select days this year as well. Toll prices vary for these two toll lanes based on demand, but be warned they have historically had the highest toll rates for roads in the state. As of press time, the Westbound Mountain Express Lane is in a testing phase, and is free to the public until testing is completed. 

Drivers can also use the website to get a peek at historical travel time forecasts with tips on times to leave to avoid traffic, as travel times and traffic volume on I-70 are generally very predictable unless there is inclement weather or a crash. Travel time forecasts are updated for each weekend and are available at:

There are also some perks for driving up with friends or family, and even penalties if you don’t. Eldora ski resort is charging a single occupancy vehicle fee of $10 on weekends and holidays. Arapahoe Basin has reserved parking close to the slopes for vehicles with three or more people on busy days. Breckenridge has a $5 discount for vehicles with four or more people in any of their parking lots. 

Also new this year is a law passed by the Colorado Legislature that permits carpool apps for people wanting to find others going to similar destinations. Treadshare and Caravan are among the new apps focused on people that want to carpool from Denver. Both apps are downloadable on your phone if you want to put together a group online to go up to the mountains, whether you are looking to be a driver or a passenger.


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