Adventuring in Colorado’s Backcountry


Fall Travel Deals in Winter Park

Towering peaks, vast forests and an explosion of fall colors, experience this and more on an affordable autumn getaway to Winter Park, Colorado. Located at 9,000 feet above sea level in the Fraser Valley, and nestled on the Continental Divide, this small town provides fresh-air getaways and endless outdoor recreation. And it’s all just 70 miles from Denver. The name suggests a constant white wonderland, but Winter Park offers a variety of outdoor adventures in every season. In summer, you’ll find some of the nation’s best downhill mountain biking trails, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and hiking. When the leaves fall and seasons change, Winter Park is blanketed in white with spectacular skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Autumn is a quiet, beautiful time here: the fall foliage spectacular, hotel prices low and crowds non-existent. Though the lifts at the Resort are now closed for mountain biking season, many excellent biking and hiking trails can be accessed without a lift in the shoulder season. Download a map of the area’s 600 miles of trails here: For an easy family hike, try the Jim Creek Trail located just off US-40 across from Winter Park Resort on Forest Road 128. This 4.6-mile roundtrip hike is ideal for spotting moose in the morning amidst a backdrop of glowing Aspens, now peaking in their autumn colors. Also great for snowshoeing. Want a tougher trek? Hike to the Devil’s Thumb on the High Lonesome Trail II just east of Winter Park in Devil’s Thumb Park. This strenuous hike takes you through beautiful scenery to 11,670 feet for striking views of the valley below and to the finger-shaped rock outcropping known as the Devil’s Thumb. Take on Winter Park western-style with Fossil Ridge’s horseback trail riding guide service ( In summer and early fall, their expert guides take you through forested trails, along the river and to scenic viewpoints. When the snow falls, bundle up for an hour-long sleigh ride through the forest and along the Fraser River in an Amish sleigh pulled by draft horses. Winter Park reopens for winter operations on November 15, and this expansive resort has 2,886 skiable acres with trails for every level of rider. If Utah’s snow is late in arriving, book a November trip here for a taste of early season skiing.


For unbeatable access to Winter Park Resort, stay at the Zephyr Lodge, which offers spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom with full kitchens, fireplaces, decks and luxurious beds. The large outdoor hot tubs are a welcome respite after a day of recreating. Fall brings the lowest prices of the year with one-bedrooom suites starting at $135 a night. Get more information at Founders Point and Fraser Crossing (, also located at Winter Park Resort, offers modern slopeside accommodations in studios and one- or two-bedroom condos.

In-town Dining

Fill up early with breakfast at Mountain Rose Café ( Founders Point and Fraser Crossing with hearty choices like Egg Biscuit Sandwiches and Corned Beef Hash, or indulge in sweeter fare like Cinnamon Roll French Toast and Happy Hippie Granola. For lunch, grab a quick, cheap bite at Rudi’s Deli’s ( where huge sandwiches like the popular Turkey Avocado Melt or Spinach Nut Burger are sure to fill you. Good seafood in the middle of Colorado? Sounds unlikely, but Fontenots ( offers tasty Cajun favorites in an elegant atmosphere and has been a local favorite for 20 years. You can beat the atmosphere at Hernando’s Pizza & Pasta Pub (, a laid-back eatery decorated in $20,000 worth of dollar bills from past visitors. Enjoy your fill of hand-tossed pizzas or bountiful servings of pasta paired with a cold brew. Great spot for socializing with locals and relaxing.


It’s an 8-hour drive from Salt Lake City to Winter Park via US-40E. If possible, avoid driving at night as elk, moose and deer frequent the roads. Prefer to fly? Winter Park is easily accessed from Denver’s International Airport. The gorgeous 67-mile drive through small towns and over mountain passes takes just over an hour.


About Author

Jenny Willden is the Managing Editor of Outdoor Sports Guide and a self-proclaimed gear and grammar nut. She's a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. A lover of adventure and travel, she's happiest when riding horses or snowboarding in Utah’s mountains. Follow Jenny’s exploits on Twitter @jennywillden or Instagram @jlwillden.

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