All three base areas at Copper are never far from the lifts (Copper/Facebook)
If there ever was a mountain created for downhill skiing and riding, it’s Copper Mountain. Nestled among 13,000-plus foot peaks just off the Continental Divide, Copper sits in a snow alley right along I-70 about 1-1/2 hour drive from Denver.
Transportation/Tickets. Park in the Alpine Lot just off the I-70 exit, and hop a shuttle. There’s daily pay parking closer to the hill, but quite expensive. Public buses run from nearby Frisco and Silverthorne. Copper is in the M.A.X. Pass system, has four-pack discounts and combos with Woodward in East Village base.
Terrain. There’s no head-scratching when you want to match terrain with ability at Copper. Beginners head to the West Village with ski school headquarters and acres of green runs off Union Creek chair. Trails begin to get steeper as you move east (skier’s right), with tons of green and blue groomers off the two high-speeds out of the Central Village. Get to East Village with Super Bee high-speed and be up to the challenge of 2,000-plus feet of vert, major blue groomers, and gnarly black diamond and double diamonds below 12,441-foot Copper Peak. This is where the U.S. Ski Team trains speed events. The mogul pitches off Alpine Lift will burn thighs. Up high, each of the mountain-top lifts deliver skiers and ‘boarders to five iconic back bowls. Few mountains have the alpine expanse like the top of Copper.
Stay. Like the terrain, Copper’s base conveniently divides into three villages: the apartment-style condos, townhomes, upscale private homes and rustic dining of the East Village; the main hub for action, entertainment, dining, shopping and all kinds of lodging at the Central Village; and, the secluded lodging and family atmosphere of the West Village. To quickly sort options, Copper has a room rating system, called Peaks, that categorizes accommodations from economy (2) to deluxe (5). It applies in each village. Since all the lodging butts right up the lifts, ski-and-stay deals abound. Cheapskates stay in Leadville and make half-hour commute over Fremont Pass.
Eat and Drink. Eateries at Copper reflect the mountain experience: hearty, convenient, down-home. Heavy on the pizza, BBQ, burgers, grinders and ribs. Bars and taverns dot the base area, and main lodges have bring-your-own areas. All manner of food and drink cram in cheek-to-jowl in nearby Frisco and Silverthorne.
Insider Tip: Don’t try to ski the whole mountain in one day. The traverse in either direction is long and obtuse – sometimes requiring an extra lift ride – and robbing precious skiing and riding time.