"Is this the start of a new era, or the last year for the Winter Park ski train?" That's the cryptic question on the home page of www.riograndescenicrailroad.com/skitrain, and the answer could be: both. As it stands, the new era will start at 7:15 a.m. today, when a train pulls out of Union Station, headed up to the Winter Park resort. It's not the same train that ran this same route for 69 years; Phil Anschutz sold that equipment to a Canadian company last year. But a group of investors who run scenic-excursion trains in Arizona, Oregon and southern Colorado stepped up to run a new train the Rio Grande Scenic Ski Train along the same tracks to Winter Park.
"At this point," they note, "we have permission to run it for the 2009-2010 season only." Will the new era last only a year? Not if enough people buy tickets and the good news is that this train has many more seats, which will allow some flexibility in pricing. The best deal: a season pass for $600 which averages less than $15 a day if you take all 47 trips (weekends through March, with Friday trips later in the season) scheduled for this year. Other deals range from a ten-ride ticket for $290 to a dome-car seat, with breakfast and après-ski snacks, for $96. There are many more options; learn all about them by calling 877-726-RAIL or going to the web page and scrolling down to the "Scenic Ski Train" logo. (Fair warning: if you just google Winter Park Ski Train, you'll see only see this: "The Ski Train has been sold and will no longer operate in Colorado.")
Dec. 27-29; Saturdays, Sundays; Fridays; Thursdays. Starts: Dec. 27. Continues through March 28, 2009