Being so close to Denver means that the majority of riders here are day-trippers, with far fewer riders during the week. A job at Winter Park means plenty of ride time with chilled out workmates.
It also means riding the famous ‘Mary Jane’ mountain – who wouldn’t want to work at a resort with a terrain area named like that!
Winter Park is located in Colorado, USA. It is about 70 miles drive west up the I-70 and I-40. The drive from Denver is just over an hour depending on the traffic.
Once in town, there is a free bus that runs between Mary Jane, Winter Park and the nearby town of Fraser.
Winter Park is extremely laid-back. It is a combination of a medium-sized destination resort with a local’s resort that people from Denver hit up every weekend.
There is a good sense of community here among workers even though the resort is being developed each year to accommodate more and more holiday-makers, even if there still aren’t many shops as of yet at the resort base.
Winter Park aims for an opening before Thanksgiving, mostly with snowmaking.
Winter Park is made up of two areas – Winter Park and Mary Jane. Winter Park has the generally easier terrain as well as the terrain parks, while Mary Jane is where the more technical lines are found. Mary Jane includes ‘The Cirque’ which has Winter Park’s best hike-to terrain and chutes.
There are 3,081 acres of skiable terrain (1,246 hectares) at Winter Park, making it one of the biggest areas in Colorado. This includes 143 carved-out trails and 1,212 acres (490 hectares) of off-piste terrain including The Cirque and tree-skiing. 25 mostly efficient lifts take you around.
There is plenty of terrain to last a season at Winter Park, if you know where to find it. While the first few weeks of the season can be rough, especially if there is not much snow, once the Mary Jane area opens up there is plenty to explore and keep you going on your days off.
However, you really need to enjoy tree-skiing and bumps to get the most out of Winter Park as these are Winter Park's strong points. The moguls at Mary Jane are now almost synonymous with Winter Park, such is their fame in Colorado and around the country.
Skier’s right at Parsenn Bowl is a great spot for some glade riding.
For those who like extreme riding, Winter Park is a little short on options. However, there are some good backcountry areas, with special access gates, if you find someone who knows their way around.
Another option is the twenty minute drive to the top of the pass where there used to be a few lifts which were shut down due to insurance costs. There is great skiing off both sides if you know where you are going and are willing to hike. Typically on a clear full moon night there are several groups that go up and enjoy riding by moonlight, which is quite an amazing sight. As this is backcountry, remember avalanche precautions.
Winter Park receives around 29 feet (8.9 meters) of snow annually. Weather is often great in Colorado in general, although it can still get very cold and nasty.
You should expect the road to be closed at least once a season and the temperature to drop below 0f (-17c) at least once a week from December through to mid-March.
There are six parks in total at Winter Park and one Superpipe. Between the parks, there are over 80 features.
The Rail Yard and Dark Territory (the controlled access area within Rail Yard) are the biggest parks at Winter Park with features large enough for virtually anyone, including 50-60 foot jumps.
The other parks have a good mix of features allowing you to work your way up.
Winter Park is run by Intrawest, which also runs Steamboat in Colorado, Stratton in Vermont and Blue Mountain and Tremblant in Canada.
You can apply for all Intrawest jobs at https://careers-intrawest.icims.com/jobs/
There are generally quite a lot of jobs on offer as it isn’t the first place people think of working a season. Jobs start to go up in August and September.
Night jobs are great at Winter Park given the extra time to ride during the day.
The official position is they do random drug testing if you work for the resort. However, more often than not it’s a case of, if you screw up something on the clock or run into someone, this will give them "reason" to test.
You can also volunteer as guest greeters, doing on-mountain tours, lift-line organization, market research or other guest service. You do a minimum of 10 days throughout the season. For this, you get a free season pass to Winter Park.
For those looking to do ski patrol, there are also volunteer positions available in addition to the professional positions.
International workers at Winter Park need to be on a J-1 visa (Work and Travel Visa). See Work a Winter Season in the United States for further information on getting this visa.
This generally means Winter Park generally looks for people from Peru, Argentina and Chile.
You get access to the Colorado Real Deal which means you can ride free at Arapaho Basin, Copper Mountain, Ski Cooper, Loveland, Eldora Mountain, Purgatory at Durango, Powderhorn, Crested Butte, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Buttermilk, Sunlight and Telluride. There is also an exchange deal with Angel Fire, NM, Monarch, Taos, NM, and Snowy Range, WY.
There are also free dependent passes available for full-time employees as well as free ski and snowboard lessons.
Staff housing is available for employees, although less than 10% live in staff housing. Options for staff housing include:
Fox Run – 5 miles north of Winter Park in Fraser. 2-4 people per unit. $550 per person, per month for a single or $325 a month for a shared room. This is pretty tight accommodation but has a good vibe.
Fraser Condominiums – Located in the town of Fraser. This is all shared accommodation (two people per room). $325 per month.
Tabernash and Granby – Located in the towns of Tabernash and Granby which are 10 and 22 miles, respectively, from Winter Park. Granby is $550 per person, per month for a single or $325 a month for a shared room. Tabernash is $400 per person, per month for a single or $250 a month for a shared room. Tabernash is not as nice or modern. Both of these are pretty far away and for those looking for a quieter season.
The best place to live if not staff housing is probably Meadowridge.
There are plenty of apartments in Fraser to rent but apartments are not available in Winter Park itself. Get in early as the longer you wait the more expensive it will be. Outside staff accommodation, $500 per room per month upwards is typical.
Rocky Mountain Inn is a good hostel in Fraser while you look.
Options to look for accommodation are:
In terms of groceries, Safeway in Fraser is the standard supermarket. There is an organic shop in Winter Park as well.
Winter Park is a small town so you tend to see the same people from work at parties. There are just a few choices of bars in Fraser and Winter Park. For the most part it's fun, if sometimes a bit small.
There are many, many more guys than girls working at Winter Park. Unfortunately, the vibe can sometimes be a little bit "I'm from the valley so I'm better than you", but all in all Winter Park is a fun place to go out.
Ullrs in Fraser has live music and pool. Winter Park Pub has a bit of an older crowd with live music while Randi’s is a good place for solid pub food.
Hot Sulphur Springs is 40 minutes away on I-40, and is an awesome place to soak the muscles.
The Spring Splash on the Winter Park side is held on the final day of the season. People attempt obstacles on the downhill course before skimming across the pond to finish. This turns into a big party on the Jane side later on and is one of the best days of the season.