Outdoors

The Edge: Our guide to the season's best skiing, boarding and more

Page 6 of 12

But the resort also offers amenities for friends or family who want to enjoy a mountain atmosphere without the downhill action. Keystone's five-acre lake is the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor skating rink in North America, and there's also Adventure Point Tubing at the top of River Run Gondola, with its own tubing lift and five lanes of fun.

General Information: www.keystoneresort.com; 1-800-468-5004.

Location: 90 miles west of Denver via I-70 (exit 205 at Dillon), then six miles east on U.S. Hwy. 6 to Keystone.

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; open till 8 p.m. on night-skiing days.

Snow Report: 1-800-468-5004.

Lift Rates: TBA.

Terrain: 3,148 skiable acres with 135 trails; 19 percent beginner, 32 percent intermediate, 49 percent advanced/expert. The base is 9,280', with a 3,128' vertical rise; summit: 12,408.

Loveland Ski Area

A lot of people on the Front Range tend to drive right past Loveland, assuming that the best snow is on the other side of the Eisenhower Tunnel. But as a generation of locals can tell you, not only is that assumption not necessarily true, but you're driving an extra thirty to sixty minutes to find skiing that's available at Loveland. Marc Vitelli, the brand manager for Sims and Lamar snowboards, is wise to that fact; he's been riding Loveland for the past nine years. "It's got a great selection of terrain and pretty decent snowfall annually," he says. "They're on the Divide, so they get a good amount of snow. And I live in Evergreen, so it's really close for me. I can make it there in 35 minutes, and to not have to drive through the tunnel is pretty sweet."

On powder days, Vitelli likes to hit up the runs off Chair 1 — Over the Rainbow, Avalanche Bowl and Zoom — and Chair 9. "There's some amazing terrain that's available off the lift that's accessible via hiking," he says. "One of my favorite runs is called Wild Child; it's probably a twenty-minute hike off Chair 9. And as soon as you integrate a hike, you eliminate 90 percent of the people on the hill. It's pretty much guaranteed fresh, and you can see the mountains and know it's pretty much you and the hill."

But, he adds, Loveland has "such a huge amount of terrain that you can almost always find powder, even if it didn't snow the night before."

He also likes the après scene at Loveland. "It's pretty much a local scene, which is kind of cool," he says. "It's pretty mellow. On nice days, they have bands playing outside on the patio.

"It's just a really rad place to ride — really down to earth, and it's just simple. You get here and have a good time, and people have smiles on their faces."

General Information: www.skiloveland.com; 1-800-736-3754.

Location: 56 miles west of Denver via I-70, exit 216.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays; 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and holidays.

Snow Report: 303-571-5554.

Lift Rates: Adult day pass: Early season $46, regular season $59, late season TBA.

Terrain: 1,365 skiable acres; 17 percent beginner, 42 percent intermediate; 41 percent advanced. Base is 10,600', with a 2,410' vertical rise; summit: 13,010'.

Monarch Mountain

Monarch is celebrating its platinum anniversary this year. That's right: The ski resort has stuck around for a full seventy years, so there's never been a better time to check out the things that make it stand out from the crowd. Which, according to Ryan Matthews — who has been skiing and riding Monarch for the past eight years — is the people.

"The people who ski and ride there are real-life people," he explains. "Nobody's out to beat anybody on the slopes. Everyone's just out to have a good time. It's a real friendly and laid-back atmosphere; nobody's up there to cater to anybody."

Naturally, he's also a fan of the consistent snow and lack of weekday crowds. "During the week, there are no crowds at all. You're pretty much just up there by yourself most of the time, just skiing with the employees. And you can just keep running in and getting as many runs in as you can."

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen