Powder snow—dry, light, heavenly fluff the stuff every skier loves. Stack over 30 feet of it onto a ski area that straddles the Continental Divide with a peak at over 13,000 feet, and you've got the very definition of skiing's nirvana. Want to know heaven on earth? Visit Loveland Ski Area. It's less than an hour from downtown Denver.
If you've driven west on I-70 from Denver to Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Ski Cooper or Copper Mountain, you've been past this magnificent mountain. Perhaps you didn't even realize there was a resort there. When you went through the Eisenhower Tunnel, you drove under part of it. Yep, the pass is so steep it needed a tunnel. That's your entrance to the world of stoke! If you've never been, you're in for the ski experience of a lifetime.
By the time most resorts are breaking out the snowmaking equipment, the altitude here has already brought down a solid foot and a half of base. While there are some beginner trails, 41 percent of the mountain is designated for intermediate and advanced skiers and more than half of that is advanced or expert level skiing. It's no wonder this hideaway has been a local favorite for so long. The ski rental shop at Loveland is top-notch. One of the great things about them is a demo program that lets you try out different skis (or snowboards) throughout the day, so you can really get a chance to check out the various models. Their instructors are some of the very best on the continent. They offer beginner's classes, of course, but you can get ATAC (All Terrain All Condition) adult classes as well. Or maybe you'd like to gain some grace with Telemark instruction? Having an instructor with you does more than just let you cut lift lines. These perceptive experts can give you small pointers that make an enormous difference in your fun and abilities.
We've already said the Continental Divide is at high altitude. That makes for a lot of fun, but it also adds some dimensions to the ski experience. You'll want to make extra certain that you have plenty of light layers, and a wind and water proof powder jacket is a must. Both neck and ankle gators are highly advised, as is a good ski mask and a hat that covers your ears. Remember, you're going to be deep in champaign powder, and it can be really cold and windy up there.
The grub on the mountain is basics, but it's good, reasonable, and there's plenty of it. When you're ready to descend and return to the land of mortals, you'll find lodgings and plenty of dining opportunities in the nearby communities. Check it out and find out just how sweet it is to be skiing atop the Continental Divide! Loveland—it's not just for locals anymore.
Opening ahead of most other resorts with a foot and a half of man-made base and the natural light, sweet, slick champaign powder. Until you’ve landed in this kind of powder, you haven’t really skied. This isn’t some little sideshow spot—it has long been a local secret. There are no resort accommodations right on the mountain, so it didn’t gain notoriety the way that places like Vail, Breckenridge, or Aspen did. Instead it’s set aside for the more dedicated ski and snowboard enthusiasts. The lift lines are shorter and it’s just less crowded. The mountain is big, with two separate areas, and the lift tickets are cheaper.
If you’re new to snowboarding, don’t sweat it. The school’s instructors are some of the best anywhere, and their ski patrol is top-notch as well. More experienced boarders will get good tips from these pros. You’ll find custom-built slider boxes: Santa Cruz and Session sponsored a C-box, Burton put up the bucks for a Hubba flat-to-down box. There are slider rails, a double-barrel, a rainbow rail, jumps and hips. They are hosting the Vert and there are several rail jams throughout the season. A ton of air, with landing zones full of powder, and endless supply of stoke. And at that altitude, most of the 400 inches of natural snow is silky smooth powder to ride. In addition, one of the many sweet things about the area is natural terrain. While it is well groomed, it’s just a really huge mountain at 1,365 acres to ride and play on, so you’ll find some of that back country and out of bounds action.
We’re in the Rockies. If you can imagine it being done on or in snow, it’s available and 15 minutes or less from your hotel room. On mountain, there are refueling stations for your bod. The grub is affordable, tasty, basic fare, and plenty of it, including basic sandwiches, soups, mexican, pizza, and BBQ.
Yep, you’re going to have to take transportation to lodgings and après ski. There are three towns within 15 minutes (Dillon, Silverthorne, and Georgetown). Idaho Springs is farther off to the east, with Frisco and Breckenridge to the west and south. Hang with the crowd from A-basin or head on over to Dillon and Frisco. Check out the live music scene at Breckenridge or rub it up over at Vail. It’s your call, from a low-key laid back vibe, to intense party mode.