Because of warm weather, the Colorado ski/snowboard season got off to a slow start -- but Loveland is open for business. And with temperatures dropping and snow falling, the rest of this state's resorts will soon be online.
We profile them all in The Edge, our insider's guide to the 2014 ski and snowboard season that's inserted in the November 6 issue of Westword; we'll be rolling out those profiles as the mountains open. Keep reading to find out what's new at Loveland. See also: Arapahoe Basin Gets an Edge on the 2014 Ski/Snowboard Season
LOVELAND SKI AREA skiloveland.com 800-736-3754
Is it the 2014-2015 season already? After hosting deep-powder days well into May and getting an early jump in October, Loveland still managed to spend the summer building the new Ginny Lee warming hut at Chair 8, bringing restroom facilities, vending machines and a large deck to what was previously a sparse but beloved section of the mountain. Now you can stay over there all day without having to return to the base area. Other improvements include new gladed terrain in the Cat's Nix trees of Chair 1, and a new magic carpet surface lift for beginners at Loveland Valley.
Signature experience: Pick up a free Ridge Cat pass at the ticket office for snowcat access Wednesday through Sunday; it'll put you into some of Loveland's steepest and deepest terrain. The wind blows around enough out there that you're likely to make fresh tracks days or weeks after a big storm, and most of the best ways down will send you straight to that new warming hut.
Splurge: "No real high-end add-ons here," says Loveland spokesman John Sellers, adding that even private lessons are a bargain. For lodging, Sellers suggests Hotel Chateau Chamonix, "a great little hotel in Georgetown that offers a very unique experience," including croissants and fresh orange juice every morning, wine at check-in, and hot tubs in some rooms. "Could be a good splurge for Front Rangers wanting to stay in the mountains for a night/weekend to avoid traffic," he adds.
Ski bum tips: Feed your face with 75-cent Taco Tuesday specials at the Rathskeller. There are also daily beer and drink specials at all of the on-mountain bars.
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Drink locally: On your way back to Denver, stop at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs for the Pine Bough Ale, infused with pine needles harvested at Loveland. The brew was originally made to commemorate Loveland's 75th anniversary and has become an annual tradition.