BLOG: That time I skied with a Ranger at Loveland Ski Area

A U.S. Forest Service ski ranger speaks to a guest on the slopes
by Brooke Ellis
U.S. Forest Service Intern

I’ve been skiing in Colorado my whole life, but I’d never been to Loveland Ski Area. Participating in the Ski with a Ranger program was a great way for me to learn about the forest landscape, the plants and animals that inhabit it and the local history of somewhere new. The U.S. Forest Service and Loveland Ski Area host multiple 1.5-hour long Ski with a Ranger tours throughout the ski season to give any skier or snowboarder the opportunity to learn about the mountain and Loveland.

The tour started at the Ptarmigan Roost Warming Hut at the top of Ptarmigan lift. With a wind chill of negative 37 degrees the first two stops of the tour took place within the warmth of Ptarmigan hut. Here the volunteer ranger, Nancy, described how the mountain was naturally shaped by the elements of nature as we looked out the window at the beautiful scenery.

Next, we popped into our skis and strapped on our snowboards and made our way down the groomed slopes to the next stop. This was my favorite of the stops because it was all about the wildlife and trees on the mountain. The volunteer ranger taught us the names of the evergreen trees that we see at the ski area, which differ based on elevation. I learned that all pine needles are technically leaves! Then the ranger spoke about several of the critters roaming around the mountain. She had examples of different types of birds and mammals, along with some fun facts about each – Did you know that a hare’s fur changes color based on the season for camouflage?

Our next stop was all about the local history of Loveland. The ranger told us about influential people from the area and how they made a difference for the town and the ski area. My favorite person to learn about was the first female engineer who was hired by mistake to work on a big construction project, and she had to fight to keep her title. We saw images of the individuals and the ski area before it became what it is now.

Despite the bone chilling weather, the experience was amazing and very informational. It was great to see how excited my fellow participants were to learn about the environment and history of the ski area. However, the best part was how interactive and fun it was to learn while skiing. The ranger asked questions to keep all the participants engaged. The rangers were kind and knowledgeable and really made the tour special.

Ski with a Ranger is a small but mighty program that’s free for anyone with a ski pass to join and there’s no registration required. It’s appropriate for ages 10 and up and requires and intermediate ski ability. 

To take part in a one-hour presentation, simply show up at the Ptarmigan Roost Warming Hut on time for a scheduled program:

  • Wed. Jan. 10; 1:30 pm
  • Sat. Jan. 27; 10:30 pm & 1:30 pm
  • Sat. Feb. 24; 10:30 am & 1:30 pm
  • Wed. Mar. 14; 1:30 pm
  • Sat. Mar. 31; 10:30 am & 1:30 pm
  • Wed. April 11; 1:30 pm
  • Sat. April 28; 10:30 am & 1:30 pm

About the author: Brooke Ellis is a student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She spent a portion of her sophomore year interning with the U.S. Forest Service through a partnership with the Greening Youth Foundation, Inc.