Historical Information

Brief History   Fact Sheet 


         1940 - 2009


Brief History


Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Ski Train was youth-oriented – dominated by the Eskimo Ski Club, whose members ranged in age from 7 to 17.  Today, many older Denver natives credit the Ski Train and the Eskimo Ski Club for introducing them to skiing.


The 1980’s brought hard times to the Ski Train.  Ridership steadily declined, and the 1915 vintage railcars began to show their age.  In 1988, Ansco Investment Company, a Denver-based company, acquired the train with its purchase by its parent company of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.  


Under the management of Ansco Investment Company, the “New Ski Train” was born.  The old cars were sold to the Napa Valley Railroad Co. (now the Napa Valley Wine Train) and replaced by "Tempo" cars purchased from Canada.  A new business plan aimed to rejuvenate the train in all respects – complete with upgraded cars, improved customer service, a computerized ticket system and the introduction of Club class and luxury private car service. 


Ski Train ridership doubled the first year and tripled the second.  The Denver Partnership awarded the Ski Train the Downtown Award of Honor “for this unique fifty-year downtown mainstay and its vital linkage between the City Center and Colorado mountains.”


The Ski Train aptly dubed itself “a Denver Tradition for Generations,” and each year introduced a new generation of skiers not just to the joys of skiing, but to the joys of traveling by train, as well.  They had such great winter success, they expanded to operate Saturdays in the Summer!


Vintage Rio Grande Ski Special Ad




The Ski Train made is final run to Winter Park on March 29, 2009


The Ski Train equipment has been sold to Algoma Central Railway Inc., a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway.


The Ski Train has operated at a consistent loss over 21 years.  Profitability had never been the controlling issue with the Ski Train.  However, more recently it had faced additional, serious challenges including, escalating costs - particularly liability coverage; operational conflicts with freight traffic, substantial uncertainties posed by redevelopment of Denver's Union Station; as well as long-term impacts resulting from the nation's economic crisis in 2009.  Regrettably, the Ski Train could no longer be operated under these conditions.  Thanks Denver for 69 years!




Amtrak has announced the return of rail service to Winter Park Resort as the Winter Park Express!





Fact Sheet


Begun in 1940, the Ski Train has a history of over 69 years of regular, scheduled trips to Winter Park Resort.  The last trip was March 29, 2009.


Cars and Capacity: 

14 passenger cars (eight Coach class, one retreat class, three Club Car class; two Cafe Lounge cars).  Transports 750 passengers, the largest capacity of any scheduled passenger train in the U.S.



1,500 feet – over one-quarter mile.



From Denver’s Union Station, the 56 mile route heads west through northwest suburban Denver and then generally parallel to South Boulder Creek, past Pinecliffe and Rollinsville.  The route climbs about 4,000 feet and passes through 28 tunnels before reaching the final mountain underpass, the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel.  It is the highest railroad tunnel in the United States and passes under the Continental Divide.  The train stops less than 100 yards from the base of the ski lifts of Winter Park.




Scheduled Travel Time: 

A little over two hours – approximately the same time as by car from central Denver to Winter Park via Berthoud Pass, with clear roads.  (56 miles by rail; 67 miles by car.)









*The SKI TRAIN by Steve Patterson & Kenton Forrest


An excellent comprehensive book about the Ski Train and its history.



*Distributed by


P.O. Box 10; Golden, CO 80402


*Published by Tramway Press, Inc;

3611 Newton Street; Denver, CO 80211