We got our first ski day of the 2020-21 season in this weekend—and damn did it feel good. Always reliable Loveland fired up the lifts last week and Sunday greeted us with a touch of fresh snow on the 1,000 verts of Catwalk-Mambo-Home Run. The independent ski area closest to downtown Denver had been closed since Gov. Polis shuttered Colorado’s ski areas in March, a long, long hiatus for an area that stays open well into May.
How was it? It’s just one run, but a few laps got the legs back into the groove and worked out any lingering kinks in our form. And it sure did feel good to simply be back out on the slopes after all we have endured in 2020—and it felt hopeful. Despite all the crap in the world, skiing and snowboarding are here for us.
Most impressive was just how well Loveland is handling the pandemic restrictions. First, the base area is small, so the area can make sure all visitors are wearing face coverings and abiding by the rules as they arrive. A professional greeter made sure everyone knew how the system works and pumped up the stoke for those off us here to kick off the season. Restrooms were clean, had been modified to help maintain distance, and required visitors to go one way to get in and one way out. Skiers and riders on the lift lines were spaced six feet apart and only rode in their groups. Dining was open at 25% and did not crowd up even when the lift closed briefly due to wind. Non-passholders have to buy tickets in advance (you pick them up when you arrive), but Loveland is not currently requiring either reservations to ski and ride or to park. In short, Loveland has COVID-19 restrictions dialed.
Add to that pro response to the crisis the benefit that Loveland is just an hour from downtown Denver, does not require driving through the Eisenhower Tunnel, and the parking lot is right at the base of the lift, and you have a ski area that’s hassle free to visit. We slept in a bit, ate a big breakfast, enjoyed a casual drive up from Boulder, and encountered no traffic on the way home. That can’t often be said of skiing in this state.
With a plan to stay open through May, Loveland is requiring visitors respect social distancing protocols and requiring day visitors to buy tickets ($75 adult, $35 children 6-14) online in advance of visiting. The area will be offering private lessons for adults and children this year but not group lessons. And good news if you are anxious about buying a season pass this year, Loveland has a 130-day guarantee on its season passes and will prorate the cost of a 2021-22 pass if the area does not operate all of those days this year. Passes cost $439 for adults and $359 if you had a pass last year. Plus, Loveland is part of the Powder Alliance and the pass gives you days at 18 other independent resorts, including Monarch Mountainhere in Colorado and Bridger Bowl in Montana.
Featured photo by Casey Day courtesy Loveland Ski Area. All other photos by Doug Schnitzspahn