Mountain steepness for a once-a-year, barely intermediate skier: A
On-mountain food: NA
Lack of Crowds: A
Copper Mountain, a short drive west of Denver, was the second place I ever skied at, and with a peak elevation over 12,000 feet, was much too high in altitude for me. In fact, Copper Mountain is just one of several high altitude ski resorts in appropriately named Summit County. I really cannot give a fair write-up to this place, because I really could not ski at the time.
By the looks of the trail map, the mountain is well designed, and beginners have their very own area on the right, so they don’t have to deal with advanced skiers whizzing by them. It was not crowded on that part of the mountain at all the year we were there, and the runs were gentle enough that even I could ski them with my limited training.
We signed my son up for the beginner class, since he’d only had one lesson the year earlier, but apparently he’s a natural, and they moved him up to a higher level since they said he was already doing “pit stops.” Me, on the other hand, I was still stuck in a knock-kneed wedge *sigh*.
One of the reasons we chose Copper Mountain was because of its proximity to Denver, where my husband had some business matters. It’s an easy drive on the interstate from Denver, there was ample affordable lodging available, and back when we went, kids under 12 were completely free. Specials change every year, but it looks like they still offer a free kid’s lift ticket with the purchase of an adult package.
I found a deal on a condo in Silverthorne, but didn’t realize it was near the top of a mountain, which made it very high in elevation. Our condo was clean and spacious, the rate was great, but I would never stay there again. The altitude was so high that we all had trouble sleeping. It was a 3-story condo, with the bedrooms on the bottom, living area in the middle, and kitchen on the top. It would take all our energy just to climb up to the kitchen, so when one of us would go there, we’d ask anyone below if they wanted anything, and would throw apples, oranges, and snacks down to the other person. Luckily, we were only there for three days, and did enjoy some time sightseeing in Denver at a lower elevation earlier in the trip.
If you have kids, I would highly recommend the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Colorado State Capitol. My son, upon seeing the polished, curved staircase in the Capitol said, “hey, that’s like the one on the Titanic!” since we had just seen the movie. He was also fascinated with the architecture of the building, because coming from a small town, he’d never seen anything like it. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science had dinosaur skeletons, Egyptian mummies, gemstones, and much more that would keep a kid’s interest for hours. There’s also a zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, and more in the Denver area, so it would be worthwhile to start your stay in Denver and see some sites. This would also help you acclimate to the higher elevation you’ll face at Copper Mountain, since Denver is already over 5000 feet in elevation.
If you can handle the altitude, then I would recommend Copper Mountain because of its proximity to Denver, the mountain layout, and the affordable packages they offer for kids. If you stay near Copper Mountain, you’re also within driving distance of three other major resorts: Breckenridge, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin. So it’s a good place for those who like variety. Just remember that they’re all in Summit County and it’s called that for a reason!