Copper Mountain Ski Resort

Copper Mountain Ski Resort was once described by the United States Forest Service as the "most nearly perfect ski mountain in the United States." Copper Mountain Ski Resort is large — 2,500 skiable acres and a 2,600 feet vertical drop — but not unmanageable. Its base village is full of amenities — brand-name stores, upscale and fast food restaurants, and après ski bars — but not pretentious. The atmosphere is friendly and laid-back but still organized and convenient. Copper Mountain lodging is varied and high quality, without being too expensive. The mountain is close to Denver, but other area resorts siphon off large sections of the Front Range crowd. In short, Copper Mountain Ski Resort is an ideal mid-sized destination ski area.

Copper Mountain Ski Resort was founded in 1972 at the site of an old copper mine. (The distinctive trailings are still visible in the summer). For many years, Copper was a fairly small, somewhat disorganized ski resort, visited by locals but ignored by out-of-state skiers. A decade of heavy investment beginning in the mid-1990s has transformed this Summit County resort, making it the largest ski area in the country and a legitimate rival to Keystone, Breckenridge, and even Vail.

The result is a very well planned and convenient ski destination. Copper Mountain Colorado is easy to navigate. As you face the mountain, there is a large area of gentle and enjoyable beginner slopes to your right, up the high-speed American Flyer lift from the main village or Kokomo lift from Union Creek base lodge (a good place for less experienced skiers to begin). Novice runs under Kokomo and the higher Lumberjack lift are generally less crowded.

The bulk of intermediate slopes at Copper Mountain ski resort are in the middle of the mountain, up the American Eagle lift from the main village or the high-speed six-person Super Bee from the East Village. For more secluded blue trails, head to the Timberline Express lift, skiers left as you come off the American Flyer.

Advanced skiers and snowboarders should start their day at Copper Mountain Colorado at the East Village (the parking lots take longer to fill up here anyway). From there, go up the Super Bee and head to the mogul runs under the Alpine and Excelerator lifts. Or, if you prefer wide-open bowls or glade riding, take the Storm King to the Enchanted Forest and Spaulding Bowl.

The bowls at Copper Mountain Colorado are as good as any in the state, even Vail Mountain's legendary Back Bowls. Copper Bowl is probably the most manageable, but in light powder a competent advanced skier should find fun and manageable routes down Union Bowl. For a true backcountry experience without the hassle and (less) risk of avalanche, ride a free snowcat to the top of Tucker Mountain.

Copper Mountain lodging has come a long way in the last ten or so years; most rooms seem brand new. With three main departure areas, Village at Copper, East Village, and Union Creek, there is plenty of Copper Mountain lodging within easy walking (or skiing) distance of the slopes. Contact Copper Mountain reservations online or over the telephone to find a place; you can usually save considerably booking accommodation and lift tickets at the same time.

If you are staying in another Summit County resort or at a nearby town, get your tickets that morning or the night before at a ski shop in Dillon or Frisco. This will generally save $10 or more on passes at Copper Mountain Ski Resort or any Summit County ski area.

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