If you live in Colorado then chances are you've been skiing, or at least knows someone that has. No? Well then for god's sake get out and make some new friends... or just head up to Copper Mountain. Basically, Copper is a mid-level resort, appealing to those too cheap to go to Vail, but also too experienced for Loveland. But just because you're not shelling out $70+ for a lift ticket doesn't mean you won't have plenty to work with. With a 9,712 foot base and 12,313 summit, Copper offers 2,601 vertical feet of terrain, with a total of 2,450 acres, offering plenty of back country as well as groomers for your skiing pleasure. Another enjoyable feature of this mountain is its lack of crowds once you reach the upper lifts.
For Beginning Riders:
is the perfect area to perfect your skills; featuring smaller, more casual runs where you can develop your turns with ease. Copper also offers some decent ski
schools for either a full or half day.
For Intermediate Riders:
The Village features two lifts which provide access to numerous "Blue" runs for those who are either too timid for the extreme stuff, or just like to kick back and enjoy the view. There is also the Timberline Express lift which services some nice groomers with a few jumps as well as tree runs.
For Extreme Riders:
Bustin' Tricks at the Park
Copper offers quite a lot when it comes to Terrain Park riding. The main park (which changes location every season) offers three different options. The first is a beginner level park with some small kickers accompanied by low lying rails and boxes. Next is the mid-range park, featuring larger tabletops with some longer and kinked rails. And finally there is the superpark, which hosts 40-60 foot tabletops, giant S and rainbow rails, and finally a 430 foot long, 17 foot high Superpipe. All in all, there is something for everyone, just remember to bring a helmet.
Burnin' the Backcountry
Now comes my favorite part, the backcountry freeriding. Whether you are into steeps, bumps, powder chutes, or even ice, Copper's back bowls are the place for you. Now these bowls may look small on the map, but when you are standing at the top of Union Peak looking down a six foot cornice followed by what seems to be an endless line of moguls wedged between rows of protruding boulders, you start to feel that maybe the map was a little understated. But as you launch yourself off into the seemingly suicidal run you suddenly land in a patch of blissful powder and begin singing "I'm walkin’ on sunshine" as you ride away into... Err umm, maybe you should just experience it for yourself. Getting back to the descriptions, there is a final quirk which I feel I should point out, one that you can enjoy if you come mid-season on a weekend. It is the free snowcat service which takes you to the very back unmarked mountain with completely open terrain and some sweet untracked powder runs. This is seriously some of the best skiing I have ever done, and well worth the hassle of hiking a few hundred feet. Now it's a little hard to find, and it ain't exactly marked out, for good reason. This last season the pick-up point was between the Mountain Chief and Blackjack lifts near the bottom of the Copper Bowl, but this could very well change.
I would recommend that anyone looking for a cheap place to ski (but also featuring lots of terrain) check out Copper Mountain. It is roughly a one hour drive from Denver, and all you have to do to get there is take I-70 West, if you hit Vail you've gone too far. Also, if you are looking to stay the night, look into a time-share demo, you'll have to sit through an hour long sales pitch, but you usually get your room for free!