Copper Mountain, 73 miles west of Denver, is a ski resort with many draws for a great ski vacation. In their 51 years of operation, they have continually improved the ski area and base yearly.
Unlike other resorts where the terrain is not divided by ability, at Copper Mountain, the difficulty is directly tied to the part of the resort you are skiing. The center base village is predominantly intermediate runs. Access the west part of the resort from these two lifts, and the terrain is suited for novice skiers. Go west, and that is the expert part of the mountain from above the tree line to the bottom. It is easy for skiers and riders of different abilities to start at the center, diverge, and then meet back at the end of the day.
Walkable base village
Copper Mountain’s base is best described as compact, exciting, and tidy. The central portion contains most of the shops, restaurants, and lodging. The west and east pedestrian village sections are mini versions of the main village. It is easy to walk from one to another, and there is a shuttle bus system in case you are in ski boots and don’t want to walk more than 100 yards.
A luxurious mid-mountain lodge
The new Aerie lodge sits at the top of the American Eagle lift. It is a significant upgrade to the previous lodge. It boasts views of most of the surrounding terrain and was built from sustainable materials with a rich feel. The upscale Forage & Feast restaurant serves regional cuisine such as elk medallions. There are two bars, a five-station food hall, and even a hot chocolate bar.
Copper Mountain has been consistently improving snowmaking, resulting in conditions that are more like mid-season than just opening. The system stretches to just under the tree line and can be moved to catch any parts of runs without adequate natural snow. It is so good you can take out your good gear in December.
Exploratory sliding programs
The ski & ride school has programs for children up to seniors. Copper was the first ski area to cater to seniors with the Over The Hill Gang and Women’s Wednesdays. You don’t have to be a regular; you can drop in for the day. For the junior wanting a free ride experience, the Woodward Center at Copper Mountain offers a 19,000-square-foot facility where young athletes can develop skills and then take it to the half-pipe or terrain parks.
Skiing or boarding all day means you must refill the energy tank so your legs can recover. Sauce on Copper is the go-to eatery for unique pizzas, pasta, and entrees with a massive whiskey wall. Have a specialty coffee and the best almond croissant at Camp Hale, and then head right up the American Eagle lift. A specialty treat awaits at Mountain Melt, where they whip up hearty concoctions like the bacon and cheeseburger mac n’ cheese.
Athlete-inspired and committed
Copper Mountain has held more competition events, including pro ski racing, snowboard competitions, and national championships for the United States Ski Association, than any other resort in Colorado. They sponsor nine athletes in various snow disciplines, many of whom regularly train at Copper as it is an official United States Ski Team training center. In the early season, riding the lift and chatting with one of these competitors is not abnormal. One can ski or ride better with extra personal Olympian motivation. No wonder it is called the Athlete’s Mountain.
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