I hadn’t been skiing in Colorado for a few years and after all of the reports about the ton of snow they were receiving, I was looking forward to seeing some fresh powder. The trip included a variety of mountains in the area including Copper Mountain, Steamboat, and Winter Park. Although you can fly into Steamboat and some other small airports in Colorado, we went into Denver. In this article, I cover our first mountain, Copper Mountain.
This is the first time I have been to Copper Mountain. It has a small village at the base with most anything you might need including restaurants, bars, shops, and lots of ski rental shops. I ended up renting skis for the week from Breeze Ski Rental. There were two reasons. First, they have numerous shops across Colorado including shops at Copper and at Winter Park and I could pick up the skis at one location and drop them off at a different location. This saved time and money since I could rent them for the whole week. The other reason is that I could exchange the skis if I didn’t like them. So, if I didn’t like the skis because of conditions or because I simply didn’t like the skis, I could exchange them as often as I like.
Copper Mountain also has a lot of ski on/off condos at the base of the mountain. Although some of them are a little dated, you really get a great value. Most of the condos are within walking distance to the Center Village and many have access to a health club. Our condo was located near the Super Bee lift which is a 6 person high-speed chair that can get you to the bottom of the Spaulding Bowl off of Copper Peak. The only tough part of the condo was the stairs. We weren’t used to the thin air and I was personally huffing and puffing up the 5 flights of stairs. But, I expected that. It takes a few days for the body to adjust to the thin air.
View of Union Peak
Copper Mountain is a pretty large mountain. There are over 140 trails, 23 lifts, and it includes 4 bowls. One thing that stands out about the mountain is that it is naturally divided by ability. The west side contains numerous beginner trails. The center of the mountain contains lots of intermediate runs, and the east side is loaded with single and double blacks. This is nice because you can stick to one area and find plenty of trails to match your ability without having to waste time moving around the mountain. Also, each area has lifts that can take you a long way up the mountain. The Super Bee, American Eagle, and American Flyer lifts are all long lifts that take you from the base up to the bottom of the bowls.
Copper Mountain has 3 peaks. Copper Peak extends up to 12,411 feet and gives you some spectacular views of Ten Mile Range. Copper Peak is full of single and double black diamond trails and it might intimidate many people to take the surface lift to get there. But, if you are an intermediate skier who isn’t afraid of a little steepness, you can easily get down near the lift. So, I highly recommend going to the top just for the views. They are absolutely beautiful. Union Peak (12,313 feet) is an excellent place for those looking for some wide open bowl skiing. The third peak is Tucker Mountain. Currently, the only way to get there is on a snow cat since there is no lift. Also, it is highly recommended to have a beacon with you in case of avalanche. This area serves the experts looking for extreme skiing which I am not afraid to say is beyond my capabilities and didn’t venture out to.
Copper Mountain Trails
Overall, the mountain has a great variety of trails. I tried to see as much of the mountain as I could to get a feel for it and I can honestly say that it is a great mountain for a family or group that has a variety of abilities. Expert skiers will get a large choice of bowls, steeps, and bumps. Intermediates can go up the Timberline Express or American Eagle lifts and find plenty of trails to keep them busy for days without getting bored. Beginners have a large number of trails scattered from three different lifts.
In my opinion, this is a great place for 3 or 4 days of skiing. The only reason I am not saying a week is because you will get the itch to try some of the other mountains that are so close. Breckenridge is located on the other side of the ridge, Keystone is just a few miles east on I-70, and Vail is about 20 minutes west on I-70. All are very easy to get to. I talked with someone who stayed at Keystone but was venturing out to the various mountains from there including Keystone. He said it was very easy to travel around and he loved to see and ski the different mountains.
Copper Mountain Village
The village at Copper is known as the Center Village. It is not a large village compared to Tremblant or others, but it has a number of restaurants and shops. For us, it was an easy 5 minute walk from the condo. But, there is a lot of lodging available right in the village. Add in the health club and the town of Frisco nearby for other amenities, and you have an excellent place for a snow holiday.