At a trio of Colorado mountains, snowcat tours take skiers and snowboarders beyond the ropes to track up the untouched Alpine terrain -- instantly enlarging and enhancing their day in the high country.
Hoppin' a ride on a snowcat to get off the piste and into the powder stashes of the backcountry is a popular pastime at Colorado resorts. But this season, there are fewer options than normal.
Front Range favorite Loveland Ski Area has gotten the go-ahead from U.S. Forest Service to deliver skiers and riders into an off-resort bowl previously restricted to backcountry users.
Loveland Ski Area -- the only resort in the West to include snowcat rides in the day ticket -- plans to fire up pay-per-ride snowcat tours next season to bring skiers and 'boarders deeper into the backcountry.
As lift lines get longer and trails more crowded, many a skier and rider looks longingly past the ropes into the untouched terrain beyond.