Updated April 29, 2019
A few weekends ago, we had the opportunity to visit Winter Park Resort and Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Colorado. Greg and I have been wanting to plan a ski trip for years, and this could not have come at a better time for us! We were so excited to do this as a family.
Did you know that Winter Park Resort was named the #1 Ski Resort in North America by USA Today? Also, Devil’s Thumb Ranch was named the #1 Cross-Country Ski Resort! What a treat to be able to visit these two highly-rated destinations.
In this blog post recap, I’m going to take you through our itinerary of everything we did, where we stayed, what we ate, and all of the details I can possibly think of! We truly loved our experience and hope this is helpful if you are planning a trip to Winter Park. We spent the first two nights at Winter Park Resort and our third night at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, so I plan to talk about our trip in these two sections.
Winter Park Colorado Travel Video
First up, our travel vlog of the trip!
How to Get to Winter Park Resort from Denver Airport (and back)
There are quite a few options for transportation out to Winter Park Resort. What we ended up doing is using Home James Transportation. They picked us up right from baggage claim and took us straight to Winter Park. It took about 2 hours to and from. Since this is a shared shuttle, we had a few stops to pick up other passengers going back to the airport from Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Each ride in the shuttle there were no more than 10-11 passengers. We had plenty of room to spread out and our luggage was safely held in the back of the shuttle. If you don’t want to rent a car, this is a really great option to get you to and from Winter Park. We’re glad we didn’t rent a car because we are not experienced mountain drivers.
Where to Stay at Winter Park Resort
All of the lodging within the resort is owned and operated by the resort. When you’re looking for a place to stay, you aren’t looking for different hotel chains in the area, you will just search for accommodations right there on their website. There are lots of different options depending on your needs and price point. We stayed at Fraser Crossing/Founders Pointe. We were really happy with our 2-bedroom 2-bathroom condo. It came with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, fireplace, balcony, and plenty of room for everyone to spread out. The master bedroom had a king bedroom, the second bedroom had a queen, and there was a pull-out couch in the living room. It was perfect for our family of four, but you could really sleep six in the unit if you use the pull-out couch in the living room. All accommodations are close to everything, including the ski lifts, restaurants, and the village. You really can’t go wrong staying on property.
One thing we learned while you were there – they have a complimentary shuttle that will take you off-property into town for anything you’ll need. If you’d like to go to a restaurant in town or the grocery store, they can take you there! We wish we would’ve figured that out earlier, then we would have definitely made a grocery store trip for breakfast and snack food to keep in our condo’s kitchen.
The Snowcat Tour at Winter Park Resort
On our first day we were able to take a Snowcat tour through the mountain at Winter Park Resort. It was super fun and totally worth doing! You get to ride up the gondola and then the Snowcat will take you through the various trails and views up on the mountain. It was especially cool for me (and the girls) because I wasn’t going to ski this trip, but I got a taste of what it’s like up on the mountains and trails. Lots of cool photo opportunities!
Ski Rentals at Winter Park Resort
Ski rentals were a breeze when we got there the first day. We filled out a little bit of paperwork, they fitted everyone for gear, and then we were on our merry way. The process took less than 30 minutes. We grabbed a little wagon and took our gear back to our condo building. All lodging has ski lockers which makes it really easy to store all of the gear.
Dining at Sunspot
If you have a chance, definitely grab a meal at Sunspot. You ride the gondola up and dine on top of the mountain. It’s so beautiful all times of day, and sunset is particularly gorgeous. We had a fabulous dinner our first night there. They offer lots of tasty options that the whole family will enjoy. I loved my surf and turf!
Ski Lessons at Winter Park Resort
Greg is our skier of the family, so he didn’t need a lesson. He went right up the chair lift and had the time of his life. I wasn’t going to ski this trip because I have actually never skied before, and it probably wasn’t the best idea to start at 11 weeks pregnant.
Kennedy and Caroline were enrolled in a half day of private lessons, and I am so glad they were able to do that. Caroline was really whiny and crying “Mama, mama” for the first part of it, so I walked away for about 30 minutes. When I came back she had gained so much more confidence and was beginning to ski on her own! Kennedy took to skiing really fast and was pretty much fearless! This surprised me quite a bit because she has also been a scaredy cat for the majority of her life. I was super proud of the both of them.
They both said they had the best time and wanted to ski again the next day. Andrea with the Winter Park Ski + Ride School was so incredibly patient and gave them the confidence they needed to ski down hills alone. They would go up a little bunny hill on the “magic carpet” and practice going down over and over again. I have a feeling we will be repeat skiers!
Coca Cola Tube Park at Winter Park Resort
I was really looking forward to going tubing, especially since I was the only person in the family who didn’t ski. It did not disappoint! The tube hill has a bunch of different lanes, from fast to slow, and you can go down as many times as your heart desires within the hour you buy your tickets for. You can also pick faster or slower tubes, and even ride in tubes that fit two people.
Kennedy really loved the tube hill. She wanted to go over and over again, and wanted to go in the fast lane! Caroline tolerated it. Haha! She definitely didn’t cry, but she was like “Well, that’s enough” after a few runs down the hill. Pretty good for a scared-of-everything 4-year-old!
One other thing that’s fun is you take a little cabriolet from the village over to the tubing hill. It’s another opportunity to get some fun views of the resort on a free ride over.
Pizza at Hernando’s
It’s totally worth leaving the resort to have a yummy pizza dinner at Hernando’s! We took the free shuttle from the resort into town and enjoyed such a lovely dinner. We got the Antipasto salad, pesto pizza, and the girls split a small cheese pizza. It was so delicious! This place is really popular among locals and very family-friendly. The restaurant is super fun and quirky, with dollar bills adorning every wall in the place. My kids thought that was really cool. It was the perfect way to end the long day of skiing and tubing.
Exploring the Winter Park Resort Village
Situated next to the ski lifts and gondola is what’s called the “village” at Winter Park Resort. The village is full of restaurants, shops, and lodging. There’s a Starbucks, the ski rental shop, and so much more. It’s really convenient to have so much in one spot!
The girls and I spent our last morning at the resort wandering around the village while Greg had another half day of skiing. We had crepes and pancakes at Goody’s (so good! You must try breakfast here), playing on a playground, getting to pick out a souvenir, and wander around the village. We were never bored and had a great time exploring the village!
Our second part of the trip was visiting the beautiful Devil’s Thumb Ranch. It is a gorgeous resort only a short drive away from Winter Park Resort. They have a complimentary shuttle that will pick you up from Winter Park Resort – all you need to do is call their front desk to make the arrangements.
We spent our last 24-ish hours at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, and it was the perfect finale to our trip.
Visiting Devil’s Thumb Ranch
If you have an extra day to add onto your Winter Park trip, I’d definitely say to spend one relaxing day at Devil’s Thumb Ranch! Like I mentioned before, it was named the number one cross-country ski resort in North America by USA Today, and there are lots of fun things to do around the resort.
It’s definitely a different pace than Winter Park Resort – very relaxed, slower, and less people. Both are wonderful experiences, and I’m glad we got to do both. I’d say that Devil’s Thumb Ranch is the perfect place to go for relaxation, pampering, and stunning views.
The property has been around since 1938 and is a functioning ranch. It’s very expansive and beautiful with lots of buildings around the property. There is a main area with lodging, restaurants, and the spa, and there are various accommodations spread out beyond.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Accommodations
We stayed in the Main Lodge Continental Divide Double Queen Room. It was plenty of space for our family. Absolutely stunning views of the Continental Divide, comfy beds, a nice big bathroom, and a really cozy space. We loved the location of our room because it was close to everything.
The Sleigh Ride at Devil’s Thumb Ranch
We took a sleigh ride a few hours upon arrival, and it was so much fun! It’s not your typical “Christmas-y” type of sleigh, but an open air sleigh stacked with hay to feed the horses on property. They take you around the property and tell you all about the horses (there are around 30 of them!) and then you get to feed them.
The horses come straight up to the sleigh, and they are very friendly! The kids had a lot of fun petting the horses and getting to see them all get fed.
Ranch House Restaurant at Devil’s Thumb Ranch
We had a lovely dinner on property at Ranch House. I had the Wagyu filet and it was to die for. The Wagyu beef comes straight from the ranch and is super high quality. All of the food we had was absolutely delicious. The girls really enjoyed it, too!
Cross-Country Skiing at Devil’s Thumb Ranch
Since we were at the #1 cross-country ski resort in North America, we couldn’t leave without a little cross-country skiing! Well, the kids and Greg, at least. They had an hour lesson and really enjoyed learning the ins and outs. Since the girls had already done some downhill skiing, they were not fearful of the skis and took to it really quickly.
Ranch Creek Spa at Devil’s Thumb Ranch
While my family cross-country skied, I made a visit to the spa! It is totally a must-do, especially if you’re in need of some relaxation and rejuvenation.
I had the most lovely prenatal massage! The spa is so cozy and matches the whole ranch-like aesthetic of the resort. Everything about it is just cozy and welcoming.
A few hours later, we begun our trek back to the airport with Home James Transportation (they dropped us off at Winter Park Resort and picked us up at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, so it was really easy). I couldn’t think of a better way to end this trip than a beautiful morning at Devil’s Thumb Ranch!
Overall Thoughts on the Trip
We’ve taken our girls on so many different types of vacations, but we’ve never done a ski trip. Heck, I’ve never done a ski trip! Greg grew up skiing in New England and has really wanted to scratch that itch for years, and I am so happy this opportunity came to us. Safe to say, I think we’re all hooked and want to add it into the travel rotation.
There truly was something for everyone on this trip, even the non-skiing pregnant lady. I loved it so much that I said we have to come back next year so I can actually try my hand at skiing.
The girls have been talking about Colorado non-stop since we’ve returned, and they didn’t want to leave. They absolutely loved every moment. I was worried they’d complain about being cold or scared to try new things, but they were amazing. If you have layers, snow boots, snow pants (if you ski), and great jackets, you’ll be fine. Not to mention, that Colorado air is nice and dry and the sun feels warm. We loved every second of being outdoors!
We truly can’t wait to go back as a family of five!