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Is Loveland a Resort or Ski Area?

What exactly is the difference between a ski resort and a ski area? Which one is Loveland? To settle this age-old question, I’m heading to the source of all skiing wisdom: the parking lot. While putting on boots, tucking in scarves, and trying to find missing mittens, skiers and snowboarders weigh in on this serious issue.

Skiers and riders in a hurry to hit the slopes make a poor focus group.

Skiers and riders in a hurry to hit the slopes make a poor focus group.

“Excuse me, I’m trying to get to the chairlift.”

“I’m kind of in a hurry, I’ve gotta be in Boulder by lunchtime.”

“Hey, get that camera outta my face!”

These are the first three responses I get while attempting to conduct interviews in the Loveland Basin parking lot. I can’t blame these people for wanting to get to the chairlift; Loveland’s favorable early-season conditions are inviting, plus there’s a continual stream of carloads filled with eager skiers swarming the lot.

VIDEO: Discover the difference between a Resort and a Ski Area.

I do manage to bag a few interviews, mostly with people who are already waiting for their child/boyfriend/acquaintance to locate missing gear in their SUV’s. The overall consensus is that a ski area is little more that that: an area where one can ski. Ski areas have no condos, no shopping, no glamor. OK, so what do ski areas have?

Early season skiing at Loveland, Colorado

Early season skiing at Loveland, Colorado

The answer: really great skiing. Loveland sits high in the Rocky Mountains. With a base elevation over 10,000 feet, it’s a sure-thing for early season skiing. This early season snow has made Loveland famous over the years for being a consistent contender in the race to be the first resort in the country to open.

The terrain and coverage are particularly good this year. While the ex-ski racer in me tends toward the steeps and high speed, there’s something for every type of skier at Loveland. The mountain and the atmosphere are not intimidating whatsoever, so it’s a great place to learn to ski in the early season.

You can't fake a smile like that!

You can't fake a smile like that!

Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley sit adjacent one another, and one lift ticket allows you to ski both areas. While their modest, no-frills approach to skiing sets them apart from many other Colorado ski resorts, their terrain holds its own against anything in the country. Loveland is really big, and if you’re willing to hike for your turns the Ridge at Loveland opens up acres and acres of expert terrain. I’ve got a soft spot for down home ski areas, and for a pure skiing experience, Loveland delivers.

Colorado’s Gems Ski Areas (of which Loveland is a member) are great spots for low-key family ski trips, or to learn to ski. But don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of action to be had by the more adventuresome skier. Learn more about Loveland, and check out Colorado’s other “Gems”.

-John Trousdale, Mountain Correspondent, Colorado Ski Country USA