Loveland is quite literally snow close to Denver. Lots of snow in fact – over 420 inches a season, the second highest in Colorado after Wolf Basin. And very close – just 53 miles/86 km along I-70 west to the entrance to the Eisenhower Tunnel.
Not surprisingly it has a long history therefore, serving Denver skiers for more than 80 years. It’s actually the 2nd oldest in Colorado, and the 10th largest, with a decent 1800 acres of terrain. That includes something for everybody, right up to top end extreme alpine chutes.
Loveland is great value. Main season day passes are $USD 79 adults, or $75 pre purchased at outlets that sell them. Kids 6-14 $34, seniors 60-69 $54. Over 70s get a season pass for $99.
Their innovative 4-pack deal provides 4 lift passes for just $169 – to be used by one person on 4 days, or 4 people on one day. This is perfect for a group/family of international guests planning to give it a shot while spending most of their time at one or more of the big destination resorts nearby like Breckenridge, Copper Mountain or Keystone.
But it has to be pre-purchased by November 18 for mail out, details on the link
Before the tunnel opened the haul up over Loveland Pass was subject to the worst of the weather, getting slammed with that same 420 plus inches average snowfall. So stopping and skiing at Loveland was a much better idea for many locals. That didn’t mean huge development though. The area started with rope tows powered by old car engines in the 1930s. Only in the mid-50s, with their first and Colorado’s third ever chairlift, did things get a boost.
Progress was steady, if not spectacular. The tunnel took away a lot of market and took out a lift and the original beginner’s area that had to be removed for its construction. But the diesel compressors used for tunnelling got repurposed in 1984, allowing Loveland to become the first major ski area with snowmaking. The 2018-2019 season sees their biggest improvement yet with a new high speed quad, Chet’s Dream, the resort’s first fast lift.
Free cat skiing is a huge bonus at Loveland. The Ridge Cat accesses some magnificent high alpine terrain along the spine of the Continental Divide. Heliskiers spend big bucks for this sort of thing. Here it’s included at no extra charge. Skiers and riders are required to have a valid season pass or day lift ticket in addition to a Ridge Cat Pass which can be picked up free of charge at the Basin Ticket Office. Ridge Cat access is provided on a first-come, first-served basis when conditions permit. When operating, the Ridge Cat will pick up a new group of skiers and riders just beyond Gate 1 North off Lift 9, and will drop skiers & riders off at Gate 4 North. This MOST DIFFICULT and EXPERT terrain is only accessible by foot or snowcat – there is no lift access here. Colorado’s state government sanctioned terrain designations apply, with plenty of shots getting the XE ‘Extreme’ rating, as on the inset trail map below. The Ridge Cat will operate Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00am until 2:30pm as conditions and weather permit. Cat operations, terrain openings and conditions may vary and are subject to change or closures.
At the other end of the terrain spectrum Loveland boasts a separate beginner area, Loveland Valley, that offers cheap lift passes and affordable lessons for beginners of all ages. So if you’ve got any non skiers in the group/family you can get them started here.
This is a day ski only area, but plenty of good value accommodation is available nearby at Silverthorne or between Denver and the area.
In summary, it’s a Colorado gem usually left alone by international guests rushing past on the freeway west, who glimpse the tasty terrain from the shuttle to or from the big resorts and wonder what they are missing out on. Plenty – next time you fly into or out of Denver take a day, preferably midweek, to discover Loveland. You may find one day is not enough, especially after a few cat laps!
Getting to Loveland
Denver International Airport is so close you could be on snow a couple hours after landing, depending on the traffic.
It’s 53 (86km) miles west of Denver or just or 12 miles (19km) east of Silverthorne on Interstate 70 at Exit 216.