Are you searching for the best place to go for your next winter vacation that is suitable for people with disabilities? If so, Winter Park, Colorado is where you want to book your next trip. Growing up an avid skier and cold weather lover, I can honestly say this is one of my most favorite places. The community of people here and experiences you will leave with, will have you wishing your departure date was later.
Winter Park, CO is just a little over an hour from central Denver and about one hour forty five minutes from the airport. It is a quaint mountain town situated in the Rocky Mountains. There are a number of outdoor activities for those of you that love the outdoors and shopping for those that enjoy something more relaxed. Winter Park is also home of the world famous National Sports Center for the Disabled. So if you have a disability and would love to try a new sport, this is the place to go!
- Alpine Skiing at Winter Park Resort. With 3,000 ft. vertical rise and over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, you will not get bored. There are 166 designated trails and 21 chairlifts, with a new 10 person gondola being added this year! Having skied at many different resorts, Winter Park is my favorite ‘locals’ mountain. It is a large resort, but also small enough so that you can tour the whole mountain in a day. The people are friendly and always willing to lend a hand and the apres-ski isn’t bad either! If you will require a sit ski or any special equipment for your disability, you will want to go through the National Sports Center for the Disabled to get fully set up and even have a lesson.
- Cross-country skiing at Devils Thumb Ranch. This sport is most definitely not for everyone. The skis are much more narrow than alpine skis, which makes for a tricky time on snow. But if you are like me, and you like to get a good workout in, this is the sport you want to try. You can cruise around the flat trails with views for days, or you can get more aggressive and climb hills to get your heart rate really going. If you have a disability, you will want to go through the NSCD as well for equipment. Devil’s Thumb Ranch is a newer facility with an amazing restaurant and hotel, although a bit on the pricey end. There is also a nice coffee shop with delicious coffee and treats to finish off your day.
- Snowmobiling on the Continental Divide. This is for those adrenaline junkies. Sophie and I were able to try this last year and were instantly hooked. Grand Adventures is a great company with a few different options. You can either have a tour guide or take them out on your own. Sophie and I each had our own, taking a few minutes to adjust to balancing on something new. Making it up to the top of the Continental Divide, the views are unforgettable. Not to mention you could let it rip and go fast! Grand Adventures is more than happy to assist with whatever disability needs you have. Check out our Instagram posts to see us on our trip!
- Dining at Deno’s Mountain Bistro. This is definitely the ‘locals’ favorite spot for great affordable happy hour or dinner and drinks. Deno’s was originally built in the 1900s as a stagecoach stop and switched over to a restaurant in the 1940s. It has become the longest running family restaurant in Winter Park. The hospitality is amazing and you will most likely be greeted by one of the owners at some point during your meal.
- Micro brews at Hideaway Brewery. There is nothing like having an ice cold beer after a full day of skiing or playing in the snow. Colorado is known for its micro brews and this is a local hot spot you won’t want to miss. With a number of different beers, brewed in house, to try. There is no food offered here, so you come just for the beers and to socialize.
The list could go on, but these are just the top five things to do in Winter Park, CO. Winter Park is an accessible friendly town and people are well familiar with the NSCD, always willing to lend a hand. This is also the resort that many Paralympic ski racers train at, coming from all over the world. All of the local transportation buses are handicap accessible, one bus being strictly for disabled travelers and is on call. There are a number of accessible airbnb accommodations to choose from, but they do tend to book up quickly, so make sure to plan ahead.
Do you have a favorite ski town? Please share, I’d love to check it out!