Loveland Ski Area
Every October, Loveland Ski Area vies with Loveland Pass neighbor Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to welcome Colorado skiers and riders first. With North America's second-highest lift-served area at nearly 12,700 feet, it's no surprise Loveland opens before most of the continent's resorts. No Front Range or Summit County ski area gets as much snow. And perhaps no resort gets as much love from Denverites, with Loveland considered the closest major skiing venue to the metro area. Though that leads to longer lift lines, crowds are manageable as vacationers don't huddle here where there's no lodging.
Loveland Valley, one of the ski area's two bases, comprises beginner and intermediate terrain that makes up half of Loveland's skiable acres. Newcomers should hop on Chair 7 to reach wide and gentle runs. Chair 3 leads to cruising slopes used by the Loveland Race Club, which practices regularly.
Loveland Basin is a haven for experienced powderhounds. The deepest, steepest stuff is found here, with Lift 4 rising to tree runs and Lift 9 taking riders to that 12,700-foot paradise of open bowls. With a season or day pass, thrill-seekers snag a free Ridge Cat Pass at the ticket office and take a snowcat along the Continental Divide.
Skiable terrain: 1,670 acres
Trails: 13 percent beginner, 41 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced, 26 percent expert
Average annual snowfall: 422 inches
Mountain stats: 13,010-foot summit, 10,800-foot base, 2,210-foot vertical drop
Check out: The Rathskellar at Loveland Basin, Fireside Bar at Loveland Valley, Tommyknocker Brewery and Pub in Idaho Springs, the Alpine Restaurant and Bar in Georgetown, A Whistle Stop Cafe for breakfast in Georgetown
Getting there: Go north on Interstate 25, exiting for Interstate 70 west. Take exit 216 for U.S. 6 west toward Loveland Pass and follow to ski area.
More information: skiloveland.com, 303-571-5580
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE