Not much surpasses the delight of having a snow-day off from school—unless it's the sensation of zooming down a powder-covered cliff face. At Copper Mountain, visitors of all ages recreate snow-day elation on slopes seemingly made to be skied. Naturally divided into terrain of varying difficulty, the 2,645 acres of mountainous landscape were identified as "the most outstanding potential ski area in the Arapaho National Forest" by an early US Forest Service survey team.
Resort planners took their cues from these natural features, mapping out distinct ski areas that keep beginner, intermediate, and expert slopes largely separate from each other, helping skiers of disparate experience levels stay out of each other's way. Each area corresponds to a village, where shops and restaurants amuse visitors relaxing between rides and snowmen relaxing between top-hat fittings while 22 lifts whisk skiers up to the mountain's 126 uncrowded trails and vaunted back bowls. Experts craving access to hard-to-reach crags can hop on a snowcat for a ride up the mountain free of charge. And for those looking to boost their skills, lessons range from children's classes to quickie refreshers that reinforce advanced skills.
But skis aren't the only tools that afford thrilling trips. Pipes and parks let boarders practice mid-air tricks, and a four-lane tubing hill sends families through banked curves. Critterland charms younger visitors with friendly characters, forts, and rides, and complimentary snowshoe tours acquaint groups with the pine- and spruce-tree-dotted countryside. Away from the snow, a bevy of year-round bars and restaurants complement the amenities of the local spa and gym.
Thanks to a highly efficient snowmaking system, powder dusts Copper Mountain for one of the region's longest ski seasons—November through early April. But enthusiasts needn't pack up their gear in the off-season. Woodward at Copper hosts year-round programming for snowboarding, skateboarding, skiing, and cheer disciplines. A 19,400-square-foot playground known as the Barn houses bowls and artificial jumps, which deposit airborne athletes safely into foam pits, much the way young penguins learn to fly.
Moose Creek Cafe dishes out feasts of classic Americana to droves of loyal customers, whether they're locals sharing friendly conversation over cups of coffee, or tourists looking for a hearty breakfast before exploring the mountain scenery of nearby North Park. Art from local artists decorates the walls inside, while an open-air patio hosts lunches and dinners of chargrilled burgers, fajitas, and pepper steak.
Regally appointed with Victorian-era décor and blush tones, Saint James Tea Room furnishes guests with flavorful teas and savory morsels to complement the elegant atmosphere. Settle into the sophisticated experience with unlimited tea, coffee, or lemonade and a miscellany of 12 home-crafted noshables such as a freshly plucked fruit dish and delicate cucumber sandwiches. Deviled eggs tempt taste buds, and meat pies and spinach-bacon tartlets add a dainty twist to carnivorous appetites. Reach subtly but determinedly for helpings of baked goods such as cream cheese and apricot scones, raspberry madelines, and the historic black-walnut cookies hailing from turn-of-the-century squirrel-manned tree ovens. Sweet-tooth owners will continue their foray into the dessert realm with fresh fruit tarts, chocolate rum cups, and a white chocolate cameo medallion that doubles as an edible brooch ideal for nibbling on during parlor-game night.
The Colorado-raised owners of Toned Bones - Active Lifestyle Eatery, who grew up participating in outdoor activities, know that an active lifestyle requires energy-rich food that won't weigh you down. At their restaurant, they prepare healthful American cuisine without sacrificing taste. Ingredients such as Greek yogurt and agave nectar stand in for mayonnaise or sugar, and natural, Colorado-raised beef goes into juicy burgers. Heirloom greens serve as the base for salads dressed up with jumbo Gulf shrimp, fresh strawberries, or filets of grilled Pacific salmon.
Bright canvases hang over the counter at Boulder Creek Market, behind which the crew crafts a menu of signature sandwiches. You can order traditional cuts of ham, turkey, and roast beef, but it's worth trying some of the specialty game meats, such as ostrich, buffalo, and wild boar. Fresh, locally baked bread is included whether you're having salad or a gourmet sandwich. And the dressings are all made in-house, from basil pesto to spicy chipotle mayonnaise and balsamic vinaigrette. Sandwiches and salads can be prepared vegan or vegetarian upon request.
Locally owned and operated, Shamane's specializes in scratch-made sweetness structured with local and organic ingredients. Like a sailboat or a paper airplane, the shop runs on 100% wind energy, and the bakery extends its green ethos with an in-progress, in-house garden that grows with berries, fruits, and veggies. Cupcakes, which are available in chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, lemon, and coconut flavors, are good for any occasion, from a house-warming party to a party inside an icehouse, and Shamane's whips up its baked delicacies with an artist's touch. Degustators can also choose from a selection of homemade, gourmet cookies, including chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip, oatmeal cranberry, and gingersnap.