With a base at 10,800 feet, and the highest lift topping out at over 12,000 feet, Loveland is one of the highest ski areas in Colorado and the second-highest lift-served terrain in North America. The summit of the ski areas is a magnificent 13,010 feet, with amazing views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
The area combines Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley – the two are connected via a shuttle bus. This privately-owned ski area is the second-oldest in Colorado (behind Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs), which affords a laid-back atmosphere that emphasizes skiing over just about everything else – a decidedly good thing.
In its 75-plus years of operation, Loveland has become a favorite for locals from Denver, Golden and Boulder. It’s only 53 miles west of Denver and is the closest skiing and riding to the city. It’s on the east side of Eisenhower Tunnel – which can save you from some of the notorious traffic on I-70, and because of its altitude, is generally the first ski area in Colorado to open.
The attitude is relaxed; don’t fear that your outfit is a decade out of style, as there’s none of the sartorial correctness at Loveland that plagues other Rocky Mountain resorts like Aspen, Telluride or Vail. Snow is plentiful, light and holds up well due to the altitude. The season runs from mid-October through early May – one of the longest seasons in North America.
Loveland is arguably the best value in Colorado. A full-day adult lift ticket price during the peak season is just $75 (and is even lower when purchased in advance), making it a steal when compared to more than $150 at some of the mega resorts. Plus, kids five and under ski for free.
The combination of pricing, proximity to Denver, varied terrain and an average of 422 inches of snow every season – the second most in Colorado – marry nicely with its chill, authentic vibe.
There’s a lot of terrain in the area's 1,800 skiable acres with 94 runs and 10 lifts. Loveland Valley is the best section for beginners. The separate base area provides new skiers and snowboarders with their own lifts and gentle terrain perfect for working on their turns.
Freeskiers and boarders often gravitate toward the Love Park, which hosts terrain park events and camps throughout the season, conveniently located via Lift 6.
Beginners from all over Colorado head to Loveland to learn, thanks to a 3-Class Pass program, which rewards kids and first-timer adults with a free season pass after they complete a trio of lessons.
A great beginner run sits next to the top of Chair 2, running all the way to the base area via Fire Bowl, North Turtle Creek and Home Run. It’s wide, mellow and long. The area’s classic steep run is Wild Child off Chair 9, which takes skiers and riders to 12,700 feet, high atop the Continental Divide. Wild Child is to the south and requires about a ten-minute hike to access the terrain, but it is steep and the snow fills in deep up there.
And then there’s Marmot, an advanced run accessed by Loveland’s free snowcat operation, the Ridge Cat. Yes, you read that right. Free! The Ridge Cat provides transportation to the north side of the ridge on a first-come, first-served basis. All you need is a valid season pass or lift ticket. Skiers and riders are picked up just beyond the Gate 1 North off Chair 9, and dropped off at Gate 4 North. The top is near 13,000 feet and the run is open, steep and deep and provides great 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains.
The only transportation to Loveland is provided Wednesday through Sunday (during winter) by The Front Range Ski Bus. You’ll get discounted lift tickets with the price of the ride. Loveland partners with lodging properties in Clear Creek and Summit Counties and has packages that include lodging for two nights and lift tickets for two adults, just for starters, along with a variety of seasonal special offers.
The closest towns are Georgetown, which is 12 miles east, and Dillon and Silverthorne, which are 12 miles west, and all offer a sleepy mountain town experience that marries perfectly with the resort.
The more intrepid, meanwhile, can venture out to Loveland, the town, a few hours from the resort itself. This postcard-perfect village is naturally complimented with staggering Rocky Mountain views and plenty of lodging, restaurants and après activities.
At the top of Chair 2 sits the Ptarmigan Roost Cafe, which opened in December of 2013 and offers food and drink at an elevation of 12,050 feet. The menu is limited to homemade soups & chili, sandwiches, hot dogs and grilled items in the spring, but the view from the deck can’t be beat.
Loveland has no on-site lodging, but the Hotel Chateau Chamonix in the nearby town of Georgetown offers a bit of European luxury at an affordable price. Rooms have fireplaces, private hot tubs and espresso machines. There’s free wine in the lobby as well as fresh baked croissants.