Make a pledge of love -- and a legally binding commitment -- at today's thirteenth annual Mountaintop Matrimony at Loveland Ski Area, where happy couples can be joined in marriage or renew their vows on top of a majestic peak. "Last year we had more than sixty couples participate, and I'd say that about 60 percent were renewing their vows," says Loveland marketing manager Ainsley Kasten. "We have an ordained minister who conducts the ceremony and signs the marriage licenses, so it is a legitimate wedding. It's for real."
The mass ceremony is open to spectators, and rings will be exchanged at noon at the top of Lift #2. "Everybody repeats their vows in unison and kisses their brides at the exact same moment," says Kasten. "It's an awesome event to watch. The past few years, it has been gently snowing and absolutely gorgeous out."
Once they ski down the mountain, the newlyweds and their families and friends can gather inside Loveland's Main Lodge for a free reception featuring live music, food and a gigantic cake.
"You'll see everything from couples in ski clothes holding bouquets to full wedding dresses and tuxedos," says Kasten. "We'll even have best men and maids of honor up there. The only thing that I haven't seen yet are bridesmaids in taffeta."
The resort, using the slogan "Marry me and ski for free," offers two-for-one lift tickets for betrothed couples. Those who wish to participate in the wedding are asked to register in advance by calling 303-571-5580 or by visiting www.skiloveland.com. -- Julie Dunn
Sharpen snowshoeing skills high in the Rockies
Test-drive different brands of snowshoes at today's annual Winter Trails snowshoe festival, which tromps through Rocky Mountain National Park. "Snowshoeing is really growing in popularity, and this is an opportunity to give it a try free of charge," says Charlene Lepore, spokeswoman for the Estes Park Chamber Association, which sponsors the footloose fun along with the American Hiking Society and SnowSports Industries America. "If you like hiking, this is another way to get out there and enjoy our beautiful winter scenery."
Along with free snowshoe demos, Winter Trails will feature park-ranger-guided snowshoe hikes, a kids' scavenger hunt, games and interactive presentations on fitness, winter safety and the Colorado wilderness.
Open to all ages, Winter Trails will be held at RMNP's Glacier Basin campground from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The snowshoe festival is free, but park entry fees are $15 per car (good for one week) or $30 for an annual pass. For more information, call the Estes Park Chamber Association at 1-800-44-ESTES or log on to www.wintertrails.org. -- Julie Dunn