If you like your skiing bumping, then you need to consider a trip to Mary Jane Mountain. This mountain attracts skiers from across the United States and around the world with the promise of the most excellent bump skiing the country has to offer. If you truly want to appreciate the mountain, it helps to know about its rich history.
The name Mary Jane comes from one of a little-discussed slice of Colorado history.
While the mountain now known by the name Mary Jane has been around for thousands of years its modern name comes from the 1800s. Americans were moving west, and Mary Jane and the surrounding area offered the raw materials that the settlers needed. Minerals under the ground and trees above it called for miners and loggers. Those men, in turn, called for other things. A businesswoman known as Mary Jane would come along and meet the needs of those miners, providing them with companionship and turning a healthy profit.
Mary Jane’s name would become attached to a plot of land and then the mountain as a whole.
Business was so good for the madam known as Mary Jane that she was somehow able to obtain a plot of land known today as Mary Jane Placer. Whether she bought it with her earnings or received it as payment from a client is an open question. What we do know is that the name given to the plot of land at the mountain’s base would eventually spread to the mountain as a whole and today the mountain stands as a monument to a part of America’s history that doesn’t get covered in most history textbooks.
Mary Jane Mountain is home to one of the first man-made ski trails in Colorado.
No one knows for sure how long adventurous locals have been skiing down Mary Jane mountain, but we can point to several important time periods. It all starts near the beginning of the 1930s. The Colorado Arlberg Club was an organization dedicated to promoting skiing, and they achieved this goal by creating the first man-made ski trail in the state, the Mary Jane Trail. A few years later the Colorado, Winter Park Ski Resort opened in 1940, but on opening day Mary Jane Mountain wasn’t part of the resort.
Mary Jane Mountain would finally become a part of Winter Park Ski Resort in 1975.
If you want to get even more specific, the park celebrates Mary Jane’s “birthday” on January 30th. While mountains like Mary Jane are impossible to fully tame the people behind the resort made them more manageable with the addition of professionally maintained trails, comfortable lodging, and the basic amenities skiers need. Still, the Resort that was put up in 1940 is just a shadow of the sprawling web of trails, lifts, restaurants, and retailers that now spread out across the Mary Jane, Winter Park, and Vasquez Ridge peaks.
Since Mary Jane became part of Winter Park Ski Resort, it has gone through major changes.
The creation of the Winter Park Ski Resort was a big step in Mary Jane’s history, but the opening just started the ball rolling. The first major upgrade happened in 1986. A $9 million investment helped the Park add 20 new trails that would add two hundred acres to the usable area of the park. In the 90s a new lift was added on the back of Mary Jane, and additional snowmakers were installed to help the park open even earlier. The 2000s brought even more lifts and 100 more acres of skiable land.
The mountain also has plenty of offer off-season visitors.
Mary Jane mountain is home to some thrilling mountain bike trails for summer-time thrill seekers. Activities like mini golf and climbing walls have been added to the base camp so visitors of all sorts can find fun on and around the mountain year-round. And while the resort doesn’t have any golf courses it is advertised as a place to stay for anyone who wants to play at the courses in the surrounding area.
After a day on Mary Jane mountain, you’ll see locals say “no pain, no Jane.”
The history of Mary Janne is fascinating, but reading about it pales in comparison to experiencing it for yourself. The mountain is dominated by advanced trails, with plenty of bumps that have established the mountain as a top destination for adventurous skiers. Of course, even if you aren’t a hardcore skiing fanatic you’ll still find ways to keep busy around the Winter Park Ski Resort. While most of the resort’s trails are advanced, there are still around 70 trails marked for beginners and intermediate skiers. Just head off of Mary Jane and over to Winter Park mountain.
Want to live near Mary Jane Mountain? Learn more about the Grand Park Community.