Not much feels better than eddying-out early off of Colorado’s ultra-congested main ski artery, I-70. This is the first plus of skiing Loveland. The small to zilch lift lines—even during spring break—are a welcome change, along with the epic backcountry access, newly opened Tunnel Face (another nod to persistent poaching creating change), and no sign of Vail-tude. Not to mention the price for a day lift ticket is $40 cheaper than most other resorts. At Loveland, neon still thrives; you can still ski to your car, park free, and be alone at the top of the Wild Child chutes in the shake of a hat.
Quick Tip: Three separate on-mountain cabins can be rented out for private parties, or, if vacant, are the ideal locale to squirrel away a six-pack and some burgers for a 2 P.M. throw down.
Backcountry Access: Two gates exist, accessible from chairs 1 and 8. From chair 1, access Loveland Pass after a 15- to 20-minute hike. Follow the ridgeline skier’s left to the Mine Dumps which spills onto Highway 6. Check avalanche.state.co.us/ for current avy conditions.
8:00 A.M.. Since 1974, I-70 commuters have been tackling breakfast at The Happy Cooker located on 6th street in downtown Georgetown. There’s no reason not to start your day with a green chili potato boat or a waffle surprise. Surprise: It’s ice cream.
9 A.M.: First chair is 9 on weekdays, 8:30 on weekends. To get the softest, morning sun-touched snow, rev the legs up from the top of Ptarmigan Roost—one lift ride provides a two-mile cruise to the bottom.
10 A.M.: When you’re chomping at the powder bit, b-line it to Chair 1. The skier’s right trees through Avalanche Bowl into Zoom will hold snow all morning long.
11 A.M.: For a long run with consistent pitch and reliable snow conditions, Over The Rainbow from Chair 1 is it. Not to mention it’ll run you right to the parking lot to de-layer at the car.
1 P.M.: The Wedge doles-out top tier sandwiches and homemade kettle chips, or on a warm day grab a hot dog at the base area’s outdoor BBQ.
2 P.M.: Love Park in Bennett’s Bowl has jumps and rails for all ages and abilities. Spectators can grab a free taco and watch groms crush it during the Vert Alert series.
3 P.M.: Off-load left from Chair 9, traverse, and take a short hike out to the Porcupine Saddle. Here multiple steep, exposed, picturesque runs hold snow and will make Chair 6 travelers drool.
4 P.M.: Rub elbows with crusty nocturnal cat drivers and hip 20-somethings at the base area bar, the Rathskeller. On Tuesday’s the tacos are 50 cents and 16 oz PBR’s are $2.75.
7 P.M: For the best brie, wiener schnitzel, bohemian roast duck, and age 21+ chocolate moose you’ve ever had, don’t miss the New Prague Cafe in downtown Georgetown. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
10 P.M.: In Georgetown, the sparse nightlife happens at the Red Ram Bar and Grill—come early and stay late for ribs, whisky, and some local flare.
Overnight: Relax Euro-style with a complimentary glass of wine in a private hot tub overlooking the river at the Hotel Chateau Chamonix. Chocolate croissants are delivered to your door in the morning (from $170; hotelchateauchamonix.com)
Elevation: 13,010 feet Vertical Drop: 2,410 feet Snowfall: 400 inches Acres: 1,365 Info: www.skiloveland.com