From Our Editors
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.