Many of the original ski areas in Colorado went up hard by the snow-grabbing Continental Divide. Born in 1937, Loveland Ski Area is one of them, where above-tree line skiing and riding means never the same line twice … and the snow just keeps on comin’.
Its old-style name gives hint at what to expect: No-frill focus on skiers and riders. No tubing or “adventure parks,” just skiin’ and ‘boardin’. No lodging at base, parking a short walk from lifts, and 1940s-era buildings exude that this is the way skiing began.
Eat. Plenty of basic mountain fare around both base areas, plus outdoor BBQ and food cart. Ample apres-ski there, too. On mountain, Ptarmigan Lodge serves up at 12,050 feet. Ginny Lee Cabin under Lift 8 has grill for anyone to throw on their own burgers.
Stay. Host of options in Summit County, 12 miles to west. A few downstream in Georgetown and Idaho Springs.
Terrain. Breaks into main mountain and separate novice area (formerly Loveland Valley). Up to south from base is steep, narrow stuff (may see a race course set here). Then all blues around the bottom half of cirque. Trees shrink and upper half full of prime bowl and chute skiing and riding. Range of aspects produces different conditions and depths. It snows a lot and winds can come up, so dress warmly and consult trail map.
Play. Nothing at base but nearby Summit County full of non-skier activities. At mountain, get free pass for Loveland Ridge Cat that continually shuttles Wednesdays-Sundays along Divide from Lift 9 to Golden Bear (13,010) and double-diamonds. Terrain park off Lift 6, children’s ski school at Loveland Valley. For private time, rent on-mountain E-Tow Cabin with wood stove inside and grill on deck.
Travel. Closest major area to Denver. Drive up I-70 is about 50 miles but traffic can be daunting. Advise: Leave way early or late from city, then before or after lifts close, respectively, to avoid prime rush hours. Several ride boards facilitate carpooling. Front Range Bus costs $45 from Union Station (7:30 a.m.) and Wooly Mammoth Park (8 a.m.) in Denver on Wed.-Sun. Purchase $49 discounted lift ticket, too.
Deals. To beat $75 rack rate, order the Loveland Pass Card online to cut daily ticket price, plus free ticket every five days. Or, order through resort website for 4-Pak that can be used anytime and/or shared with others. A dozen stay-and-ski properties offer bargains.