In December, my family and I met up at Loveland Ski Area.
The impetus for this ski day was a family friend’s first ski lesson. (Read more about her adventures learning to ski at Loveland.)
We arrived at Loveland early, and as she breezed through the check in and rental process, we checked out the trail map before setting out to explore this surprisingly large and diverse mountain.
Five Reasons to Ski Loveland Ski Area
#1: You Drive By Loveland All the Time
If you drive Colorado’s Interstate 70 west from Denver you’ve passed Loveland Ski Area countless times. Same for anyone who drives I-70 east into Denver. And on at least one of the times you’ve powered past the Loveland exit, you’ve probably said to yourself, “Huh, I should really check out Loveland.”
Driving by at 70 miles per hour is not a good way to get the feel of a ski area. If your impression of Loveland is blurred by speed, you’re going to be amazed when you find out how much Loveland has to offer.
Here are the stats:
- 1,800 lift-served skiable acres
- 100 hike-to acres
- 94 trails
- 11 lifts
- Vertical drop of 2,210′
- 422″ average annual inches of snow
- Free parking
- Adult lift tickets that start at $79, including a Flex Ticket that nets out at $62, good for four consecutive hours of skiing.
With all of this good stuff, Loveland is definitely worth a stop.
#2 The Terrain from Valley to Basin
What the mountain stats don’t tell you is how unique Loveland Ski Area really is — with two distinct bases, connected by frequent shuttles.
Loveland Valley, the lower of the two, is home to the ski and ride school and offers terrain for beginners and beginner-intermediates. If you’re a first-time taking lessons, or your children are beginners, this is where you’ll start. And truly, Loveland makes it really easy, with free parking and centrally located dining, rentals, ticketing and ski school.
Out on the snow you’ll find a two magic carpets (one reserved for lessons) and two chairlifts.
Because the skiers and snowboarders on this terrain are largely beginners, learning to ski at Loveland Valley is safe, appealing and very low-key.
Just up the hill, with additional free parking lot and base facilities, is Loveland Basin. Here you’ll find Chet’s Dream, Loveland’s new high-speed quad chairlift. It’s the most visible lift from I-70, and provides quick access to double-black terrain and trees runs to skier’s right and mostly intermediate runs that connect with the rest of the mountain on skier’s left. It’s a great lift to lap all day or to use as entrée to the rest of Loveland Basin.
In our opinion the most striking feature of Loveland’s terrain is how much of it is above tree line. Double-black and extreme bowls rim the top of the mountain, which is also the top of the Continental Divide. Lifts 4, 8 and Ptarmigan lead to to intermediate off-piste terrain with the same big views and the luxury of choosing one’s own line, over and over again.
Additionally, Loveland Basin has free cat skiing utilizing the first-come, first-served 18-person Ridge Cat. The Ridge Cat is best suited to expert skiers and every one must have a ticket, available at the Basin ticket office, for free.
#3 Value, from Lift Tickets to Food
Compared to other Colorado resorts, Loveland lift tickets are a relative bargain. Adults ages 15-59 pay $79 at the ticket window, while kids 6-14 pay just $34 and 5 and unders are free. And this is for honest-to-goodness Colorado skiing on a massive amount of terrain.
Money saving options include purchasing tickets in advance on the Loveland website, half day tickets, flex tickets or a $74 Loveland Pass Card offering one free day and subsequent discounted days.
Loveland season passes are an even better deal, as they include 96 bonus days at 32 partner mountains in the US and Canada, including Silver Star (BC), Grand Targhee (WY), Bridger Bowl (MT), and Whitefish (MT).
As for food, anticipate generous portions and inexpensive prices. And, let’s not forget the free parking.
#4 Loveland is a Great Place to Improve Your Ski/Ride Skills
I’ve already mentioned that Loveland Valley offers an ideal teaching and practice area for beginner snowboarders and skiers. Since we’re currently in the middle of a four-part series on learning to ski as an adult at Loveland (thank you MacKennea Broyles!), I’m not going to add much more.
But please note that lessons are not limited to beginners. The 3-Class Pass deal (three lessons and a season pass) also covers Master the Mountain, Advanced Skills, and Telemark classes for adults, along with all levels of children’s lessons. Multi-week programs are available for kids, while adults enjoy the telemark and women’s only clinics.
#5 Even Loveland’s Logo is Happy
A logo can tell you a lot about a place. And if there was ever a happy ski area logo, it’s Loveland’s pleasingly old-school take on a satisfied skier.
Looking at it makes me smile and love Loveland even more. Which is fitting because just like the skier in the logo, we’ve found skiing Loveland to be highly satisfying.
I hope you’ll try it for yourself this winter.
When You Go…
Loveland Ski Area is 53 miles west of Denver. With an annual early opening, Loveland has a long season often running from October into May.
The nearest lodging is in historic Georgetown, an early Colorado mining and railroad community.
Finally, because Loveland’s altitude is so high, with a base of 10,800′ and a summit of 13,010′, plan to drink a lot of water and bring all your layers to Loveland. There is no point in being cold and if you’re prepared for high altitude temperatures, you’ll be plenty warm, especially on sunny days. if you do get cold, there are cozy warming huts scattered across Loveland Basin.
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