Copper Mountain Ski Resort

Copper Mountain has an incredible mountain layout, in which all the beginner, intermediate and expert skiing trails are separated naturally into three distinct on-slope ski areas. Above the Tree-line, there’s excellent skiing including some of the best off-piste in Colorado, and a much-improved new village.

Copper Mountain, Summit County’s largest and least crowded ski resort, is located in the heart of Summit County, Colorado. Consistently ranking in the top five for “accessibility” in the yearly polls, Copper Mountain boasts the convenience of a simple 90-mile (144-km) drive from Denver International Airport and right off Interstate-70 at exit 195.

Copper Mountain also enjoys the strategic location of being just west of the 10 Mile Range, as storms tend to roll in and get stopped by the ensuing range, dropping ample amounts of the legendary Colorado White. Copper Mountain boasts 280 inches (710 cm) annual snowfall, and a base elevation of 9,712 feet (2,960 m) allows for superior snowmaking. It also allows some of the best early and late season snow in any North American ski area.

Copper Mountain Ski Area

The mountain’s wooded slopes are neatly "zoned" with all the beginner trails located on the west side of the mountain (right on the piste map), all the intermediate trails in the center, and the advanced and expert skiing on the East side and up and over to the backside bowls. This creates many positive scenarios.

Beginner skiers have their own area and don't have to worry about taking a wrong turn onto a difficult trail, while the expert skier doesn't need to worry about a beginner traversing across an advanced trail. In short, you have your level and you go to the part of the mountain groomed for your ability.

The trails are graded green for beginner, blue for intermediate, black-diamond for advanced, double black diamond for expert and break down to 21 percent beginner, 25 percent intermediate, 36 percent advanced, and 18 percent expert ski trails.  The longest trail is 2.8 miles (4.5 km). The highest lift- serviced point is 12,313 feet (3,753 m), but you can hike up to 12,337 feet (3,760 m), and the maximum vertical descent is 2,625 feet (800 m).

Copper has over 380 acres (153 ha) of snow- making capacity, and at a base elevation of 9,712 feet (2,960 m) the quality is superb. So, while Copper has a season spanning from early November to late April, the higher elevation and impressive snowmaking capabilities ensure quality snow from start to finish. For skiing lasting into the summer, neighboring Arapahoe Basin has received extended snowmaking privileges, and is considering year-round skiing.

With 2,433 acres (984 ha) to play around in, Copper is a family oriented resort that's growing to accommodate even the most diehard skier and party-goer. Therefore, given the mix of skiers on the hill, safety is taken seriously. Copper has "slow skiing zones" for areas of high traffic, and "family skiing zones" dedicated to wide open cruising. "Speed Control" volunteers are in place on heavily skied trails, and Copper Ski Patrol does an exceptional job of marking natural hazards on the mountain.

Copper Mountain Lift System

Copper’s lift system moves skiers in a very efficient manner. The naturally divided terrain and the general layout of the mountain create a perfect situation to move about the ski trails.

Families can actually take the same lift in the middle of the mountain, choose from greens, blues, or blacks, and meet at the bottom of the same lift to take it up once again.  Experts can escape to the east side of the mountain and ski the lifts with experts, while beginners can start on the west side of the mountain and ride the extensive system to entirely beginner terrain.

All in all you'll find seven surface lifts, 15 chairlifts, and Colorado's first high-speed six-passenger chairlift, the Super Bee, carrying 32,324 people per hour. The Super Bee reduced a 22-minute, two-lift ride from bottom to top to the current eight minutes. The first lift opens at 8:30 am on weekends and 9:00 am on weekdays. However, if lift tickets are booked in conjunction with lodgings, prior to arrival, the BeeLine Advantage Lift Ticket will allow skiers access to the mountain 15 minutes before the general public. Lifts shut at 3:30 pm on the upper slopes and 4:00 pm on the lower. Lift lines are not a problem during the week; on the weekends during high season, waiting time can be up to 12 minutes.

Copper Mountain Beginner Skiing

Copper’s naturally divided terrain lends the west side of the mountain to beginners of all sorts and the best areas for beginners is the west village, Union Creek learning center.

Gentle, uncrowded slopes make a perfect unintimidating learning scene. There are family ski zones, wide trails for cruising, and slow skiing zones, patrolled for speeders, and quite often an intermediate trail is only a turn away-perfect for groups of varying abilities. The 9,712-foot (2,960-m) base elevation ensures optimal conditions throughout the winter season. While Copper extends an entire beginner area within the Union Creek section, beginners can also head to the top of the mountain, on Rendezvous lift, to experience the breathtaking views from atop the 10 Mile Range, while still enjoying very gentle slopes.

Copper Mountain Intermediate Skiing

With 25 percent of the trails, intermediates are spoiled for choice. Copper’s most challenging trail for the intermediate skier is undoubtedly Andy’s Encore, off the Super Bee lift, with a finish onto Rosi’s Run, also under the Super Bee Lift.

For a classic Copper ski experience, ride up the American Flyer and drop into the trails under the Timberline Express lift where you'll find groomers and intermediate bump trails. Or check out I-Dropper, bumps that'll make you feel like a pro. If you ready to take the next step to black, head east to test out your skills on West Encore.

Copper Mountain Expert Terrain

Much of Copper Mountain's expert terrain is above the treeline. Copper’s east side boasts some of the best off-piste skiing in Colorado. Up top on Resolution and Spaulding Bowl, in back for Copper Bowl and Tucker Mountain, and Sierra lift and Union Bowl in the middle, up top.

If you want tougher skiing, for moguls try Resolution Bowl; for steep and deep go to Spaulding Bowl or Tucker Mountain, or Union Bowl; and for couloirs it's Spaulding Bowl. For those seeking the best powder, head off to Tucker Mountain or Graveline Gulch. The upper mountain and east side are home to much of Copper's expert terrain. Hallelujah Ridge, Bariloche, and Cross Cut are great trails for that transition from blue to black. If you seek marathon bumps, ride the Alpine chair and find out how "Too Much" got its name.

Check out 17 Glade of Upper Enchanted for trees, then head to Spaulding Bowl for steeps and cornice drops. Resolution Bowl is great for endless bumps. Excellent hiking terrain can be found in Union Bowl and on Tucker Mountain accessed from Copper Bowl, which has classic bowl terrain. Go west to Union Meadows for a different type of on-mountain adventure. The ski patrol runs free-and heated-snowcats up a gulch to the ridge of Tucker Mountain.

Experts can ski tour or snowshoe to Janet's Cabin for the day or an overnight trip. Janet's Cabin is a 10th mountain division backcountry hut. Copper takes its skiing very seriously, and the free snowcat ride up to Tucker Mountain for an "inbounds/backcountry" experience is not to be missed. Other challenging possibilities might be the knee-pounding bumps of Resolution Bowl, the Steeps of Patrol, and Cornice Chutes, or even the new-school spins in the Terrain Park. With 18 percent of the mountain labeled as expert, there are no shortages of trails to stretch your skills.

Under Colorado law, skiing or entering any trail or area marked by a closed sign is not allowed, nor is entering land adjacent to the well-marked ski area.  Graveline Gulch, described below, is the one legal exception to this rule for expert skiers. Graveline Gulch is out of the ski area boundary but has a patrolled entry gate where expert skiers can enter and ski a steep bowl into wide glades. A ski patrol will check you out and you ski a backcountry trail all the way down to a free shuttle on Highway 91, that will be waiting to give you a short ride back to the lifts at the East Village.

Copper Mountain Snowboarding

Freeriders can head west to High Point and Loverly for Copper’s newly redesigned Terrain Park, Catalyst, and Super Pipe. There are three lanes in the Terrain Park ranging from beginner to intermediate to expert with jumps to suit all levels.

In addition there is a hip jump in each lane and a variety of new rails- including the new roller coaster S and an 18 foot (5.5 m) Quaterpipe.  At the end of the park you find the 430-foot (131 m) long Super Pipe with 18-foot (5.5-m) high walls set at a 16 degree pitch. The resort has a new New Zaugg Pipe Monster and snowcats dedicated for use in the pipe and terrain parks only, allowing for nightly grooming if needed. New for this season is a kids terrin park at the top of the Moz and a second Superpipe at the base of the Main Vein.

Copper Bowl, Resolution Bowl, and Spaulding Bowl beckon freeriders and Copper has bigger, wider trails to suit carvers. However, one drawback is the lack of serious steeps, which can bog the rider down on deep powder days.

The new Woodward at Copper indoor big air training facility has proven to be incredibly popular with freeskiers and snowboarders. Skiers and riders can practice tricks by jumping into pits filled with foam blocks. It's not unusual to see big name (even Olympic/X-Games) athletes practicing at the facility.

Copper Mountain Mountain Restaurants

There is a limited choice of on mountain restaurants available at Copper. The main place to eat on the mountain is Solitude Station’s fast-food eatery serving breakfast and lunch with the best views around.

Solitude offers panini sandwiches, homemade pizzas, fresh sandwiches, burgers, soups, chili, salads and delicious vegetarian food. Quick and easy refreshment is on tap with a combination of outdoor grills and decks, and self-serve pizza, wraps, and sandwich stations. Coffee shops serve espresso, hot chocolate, bagels and pastries. T-Rex Grill, located on prime intermediate terrain, has a deck that soaks up the sun and serves up Brontosaurus burgers, Dino fries, snacks, beer and wine. Flyers Soup Shack is a perfect family stop and it features great soups, chili, salads, BBQ pork, burgers, beer and wine.

Copper Mountain Village

While Copper certainly stands today on its own as a world-class ski resort, it would be fair to say that Copper Mountain used to sit somewhat in the shadow of its more illustrious Summit County cousins, like Breckenridge; but that changed when Intrawest Corporation (owners of Whistler-Blackcomb, among other A-list resorts) pumped money into on-slope improvements, but above all Intrawest was quick to fix upon one badly-needed element in the resort—a village.

When Intrawest acquired Copper in 1997, some of the first improvements were on-mountain, although the mountain itself was nearly perfect to begin with. The Super Bee, Colorado's first high-speed six-passenger chairlift, was installed in the East village, and Copper expanded its expert bowl skiing to the limits of Tucker Mountain. The pedestrian- only village at Copper, however, truly represents the renaissance of Copper Mountain. US$400 million later, Copper boasts the finest in mountain villages complete with heated walkways connecting dining, shopping, nightlife, après ski, activities, and events.

Parking is all underground with easily accessed lifts to the buildings and units-a neat and aesthetic touch to keep the cars out of sight and the village free for strolling in. Every attention to detail, such as the movement of the sun and "gathering places," has been taken into consideration, and it truly makes for a world-class village just steps away from the lifts.

A short bus ride, ski, or walk away is the East Village, sporting Copper Springs Lodge as its majestic flagship lodge. Located on the expert side of the mountain, the East Village also plays host to après-ski legend Moe Dixon at JJ's Rocky Mountain Tavern, just a few steps from the Super Bee lift.

The last stage of the village involves the Lake Buildings, which will feature shops, restaurants and bars surrounding the West Lake ice skating/boating area. New après ski venues will include Pravda (a Russian vodka bar) and McGillycuddy's Irish pub.

An expanded beginner learning area on the west side of the mountain adjacent to Union Creek welcomes novices, and the expert skier can look for improvements to Copper's free Tucker Mountain snowcat tour service. Snowcats deliver guests to Tucker Mountain, elevation 12,337 ft (3760 m), where legendary high alpine Colorado terrain awaits.

Copper Mountain Restaurants & Bars

Head to Jack’s Slopeside Grill for apres ski on a great deck where you can watch weary skiers come down from the mountain.

Endo's Adrenaline Café is a high-energy, high-alpine restaurant and bar for the younger crowd, with outdoor seating, right in the middle of the village at Copper.

The Swivel serves up beer and margaritas right at the base of the American Eagle lift. Sharing the same centrality is the Indian Motorcycle Café & Lounge boasting 21 beers on tap and fantastic lounging opportunities both outside-seated on the deck-or inside on leather loungers near the pool tables. It's a little higher end and the bar is accompanied by tasty American-style cuisine.

In The East Village, the only place to be for après ski is JJ's Rocky Mountain Tavern. JJ's offers comfortable mountain cuisine, and features Colorado's longest bar with acoustic guitarist Moe Dixon to keep you dancing and singing as he jams along. There's an open and lively atmosphere here appealing to all ages, with live music most days for après ski. The appetizers are great. And that's not all: Copper has an excellent tubing facility that goes well into the evening, with ample lighting, and the end of the tubing run conveniently finishes right at

JJ's Rocky Mountain Tavern.

Licensing laws mean a minimum age of 21 for consuming alcohol, though children may accompany parents in bars and other places serving alcohol. Bars close at 2:00 am. There are 25 restaurants in the resort. Indian Motorcycle Café offers fine dining in a cosmopolitan atmosphere; Endo's Adrenaline Café, as its name suggests, is for the high-energy crowd; Maui Taco for the boarder crowd, Columbine Café for homestyle breakfasts and lunches.

Copper Mountain Other Activities

Aside from skiing and boarding, there is also ice skating, tubing, snowshoeing, 15 miles (25 km) of cross-country skiing in the White River Forest, snowmobiling and sleigh rides.

Copper boasts 22 retail stores, selling varied goods from fly fishing gear through to chocolate. The Copper Mountain Racquet & Athletic Club has excellent facilities including an indoor pool, indoor tennis and racquetball courts.

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