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.
The 8th Annual Vail Film Festival brings more than 60 international films, documentaries, and shorts to the cinema-craving denizens of the central Rocky Mountains, and this year presents an acting achievement award to actress Kate Bosworth. Screening pass holders get admission to all non-VIP theater screenings, panel discussions, and access to the open bar at the Festival Hospitality Lounge, open every day of the festival. In addition to all of the above, festival pass holders get admission to all screenings (VIP included), the awards ceremony, the closing night party, and a Friday night concert by singer/songwriters from the well-known Hotel Cafe in LA. Black diamond pass holders get all the benefits of a festival pass, plus the chance to bump shoulders and exchange elbows with celebrities and festival patrons at the opening night party, the Friday filmmaker reception, and the late-night festival lounge.
With only a few 5-gallon buckets and some extracts, Bonfire Brewing began in a garage. Nowadays, the microbrewery team makes enough batches of brew to fill up to 15 of the taps at an on-premise taproom in Eagle. Here, bartenders decant hoppy IPAs, smooth brown ales, and lighter wheat beers into 16- and 23-ounce glasses, as well as to-go growlers, kegs for delivery, and time capsules for future thirsty people. The taproom opens around 5:30 p.m. every day, when the Bonfire crew invites patrons to tour the brewery; play rounds of darts, foosball, and shuffleboard; or groove to live music on weekends.
Breckenridge Distillery sits at 9,600 feet above sea level, where brew masters mix mineral-rich Rocky Mountain snow-melt water into bourbon, vodka, and other stiff libations. A 500-gallon Vendone copper pot whips up spirits in tandem with an open-top, Scottish-style fermenter—the two forming a better booze-promoting team than Al Capone and a basement. As guests meander through the storefront, they might sample the distillery's namesake bourbon, which boasts aromas of banana and brown sugar, or the namesake vodka, which yields notes of lemon cream and meadow flowers. With their $20 retail credit, tour-takers can bring products including mugs ($6), playing cards ($8), and flasks ($15) to the homes and recreational submarines of friends.
With more than 10 tanning beds bronzing hides at three varying levels, as well as the automated VersaSpa spray-tan booth, Aspen Tan’s team can customize tans to suit each individual’s skin types and tanning needs. To further beautify the body’s largest organ, they also offer the skin- and muscle-toning Beauty Angel that administers light energy to increase circulation while relieving minor aches and pains.
An original 1865 newspaper bearing the headline of President Lincoln’s assassination hangs on the walls at The Buffalo Restaurant & Bar in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs. It’s just one of the many historic elements at the eatery, which is comprised of four different buildings—all more than a century old. Like an adaptable vampire, each structure has lived many different lives since the late 1800s, serving as everything from feed stores and hotels to billiard halls and recording studios. The antique bar, built in Chicago in the early 1860s, first journeyed to Colorado by wagon train, and a collection of antique signs also hang throughout the restaurant. The historical Western decor and atmosphere pairs fittingly with the menu, which showcases buffalo as a choice ingredient, from buffalo black-bean chili to barbecue-buffalo-brisket pizza pies.