Leave the car at home and let RTD be the connection to the slopes

It took Old Man Winter some time to arrive this season, but now winter is in full swing and the snow is piling up at the ski resorts. The new snow, combined with the seasonal increase of out-of-state tourists and thousands of Coloradans eager to get their fill of fresh powder, means that I-70 risks turning into a gigantic parking lot for the next several weeks.

Nothing ruins the stoke of a powder day more than having to spend hours in traffic, as each passing second means less and less fresh powder to enjoy. However, there are ways to avoid the I-70 blues and get to the slopes, all without even having to start the car or drive more than a couple of miles.

There are a number of services skiers and snowboarders can take, all accessible with a short ride on a RTD bus or train, to alleviate the woes of sitting on I-70.

CDOT’s Snowstang

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)’s popular Snowstang bus service is one of the fastest and most reliable ways to get to some of Colorado’s best ski areas and resorts. The Snowstang has routes that serve Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Loveland Ski Area, and even Steamboat Springs!

Each Snowstang bus comes fully equipped with USB and power outlets, free WiFi, a restroom and bike racks, as well as being fully compliant with ADA standards.

The Snowstang picks up and drops off at both Denver Union Station (Gate B4) and Federal Center Station (Gate L), so RTD customers can ditch the car and take any Union Station- or Federal Center Station-bound bus or train to the Snowstang.

Snowstang service runs every Friday-Sunday through closing day for most of the ski areas it services. Customers can purchase tickets on the Snowstang website.

Winter Park Express

Imagine heading to the slopes and seldom seeing a single vehicle or section of highway. While that might seem hard to believe, especially when the “powder panic” sets in, Amtrak’s Winter Park Express makes that a reality. The Winter Park Express, made possible through a partnership between Amtrak and Winter Park Resort, takes customers from Denver Union Station to just steps away from the Gemini Express lift in the base area.

The train travels through the Colorado backcountry, providing incredible sights. The train passes through a series of tunnels, including the historic Moffat Tunnel, which was built in the late-1920s underneath James Peak as a solution to the problems the steep, and often dangerous, tracks that previously went over Rollins Pass possessed, especially in the winter.  

The train provides exceptional amenities, including a bar, café, lounge seating, large windows, reclining seats and plenty of legroom so everyone can stretch out and relax on the two-hour trip to and from the slopes of Winter Park.

Winter Park Express service begins Jan. 13 and runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March 26. Tickets can be purchased online on Amtrak’s website, with fares starting at $34 each way for adults, and $17 for children ages two through 12. Customers can catch any Union Station-bound bus or train and board the Winter Park Express at Track 4. The train departs from Union Station at 7 a.m. and departs Winter Park at 4:30 p.m.

RTD’s Route NB

Of course, RTD does offer its own service straight to the slopes of Eldora. The Ski-n-Ride, more commonly known as the Route NB, provides seasonal daily service to Eldora Mountain Resort, dropping skiers and boarders off just mere steps away from the Indian Peaks Lodge and the Alpenglow chairlift.

The Route NB offers a relaxing way to commute through Boulder Canyon and up to the resort. Take a nap, read a book or play some games while RTD does the driving. The route boards at Downtown Boulder Station (Gate 4) and at the front of the Eldora parking lot right under the giant trail map. Customers can put their skis and snowboards underneath the cabin in the luggage bays.

Route NB schedules can be found here. Customers boarding the Route NB will need an appropriate regional fare level ticket or pass. It is recommended to purchase fares in advance to avoid issues with cell reception up at the resort.

Bustang Outrider

In addition to the ever-popular Snowstang bus service, CDOT offers the Bustang Outrider, which consist of regional buses that provide service to many of Colorado’s smaller mountain communities, such as Durango, Montrose, Crested Butte and Telluride. Outrider even provides seasonal service to Monarch Mountain (via the Crested Butte – Denver route). While this service typically does not drop customers off right at the slopes, many of these communities offer local transit services that do drop off slopeside.

The Crested Butte – Denver route departs from Denver Union Station daily, while the Telluride – Grand Junction and Durango – Grand Junction routes can be made via a connection in Grand Junction via the Bustang’s West Line, which departs from Denver Union Station.

More information on the Outrider can be found on Bustang’s website.