What makes Copper Mountain unique is its natural mountain topography which naturally divides ski areas based on ability. Advanced trails are in the east, beginners on the right and intermediates in between! Beginners don’t need to worry about taking a wrong turn and end up in over their heads, while advanced skiers can go all out without avoiding novices. For the experts, Copper has some killer off-piste terrain, including bowls and hike-to terrain with CAT access. The resort also has its fair share of terrain parks with everything from a beginner level small sculpted terrain park, to a super pipe for the park rats, to a year-round indoor facility with free-skiing and foam pits. Copper definitely has the terrain variety to keep a squad busy, no matter the skill level. The second draw card for Copper is early season skiing - its snowmaking capabilities coupled with the cold conditions and north-facing aspect ensures there is powder that stays fresh. I mean, the US ski team goes to Copper for early season training - so who are we to argue?
Admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous setting or the rowdiest of après scenes, so it may not be your first choice for late-night partying or celebrity sightings. Unlike the larger and big-name resorts nearby such as Vail which feels a bit corporate, Copper Mountain cultivates a chill vibe that is more relaxed than ritzy but still has all the facilities to make it a great kid-friendly destination. The laid-back atmosphere has fostered a sense of community, and it’s the kind of place where some folks have been happily working the lifts, grooming the snow, and slinging drinks for decades.
With a summit of 12,313 ft, Copper Mountain may not be quite as tall as its Summit County neighbors Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin, but it’s certainly no slouch! Its base area is at 9,712 ft, resulting in a healthy 2,601 ft vertical drop. The terrain varies from mellow groomers to open bowls, intense steeps to narrow chutes making its sheer variety one of our favorite thing about the resort! In an average year, Copper sees over 300 in of snow, and if that’s not enough pow for you, upgraded snow-making capabilities arrived with the national team training center to guarantee early season skiing. With its elevation and predominantly north-facing aspect, the snow is usually well preserved. Even if it’s not the heaviest snowfall in North America, it’s remarkably consistent. As an added bonus, Colorado sees tons of sunny days – so pack your shades and sunscreen and be ready to enjoy some glorious bluebird days!
Copper Mountain consciously markets itself as a “naturally divided” mountain. Most of the advanced black diamond runs are on the east side (and, of course, the upper reaches) of the mountain, intermediate runs are predominantly in the middle, and the easiest runs are on the west side. Fortunately, it’s still easy to get back and forth without many painfully flat, long tracks or endless series of lifts. There are stashes of hidden powder that last long enough for anyone willing to make the effort to find some, and the mountain’s backside offers both sun and shelter from the prevailing breezes.
When to Go
The best times to go are anywhere from January through early April. While December can be good for snow, the resort can be a little slow to open all of its terrain. During the early part of the season around November, the resort is home to race camps, which can make for a slightly crowded environment. Historically, March tends to be the snowiest month of the year at Copper, so your odds of catching a powder day are good. On the other hand, it also tends to be one of the resort’s busiest times for lodging, second only to Christmas.
If you do brave the crowds to come at Christmas time, though, be sure to enjoy the lights and decorations in the village, the kids will love the visit from Santa himself, and everyone will get a kick out of the ski school instructors’ torchlight parade and fireworks!
The last couple weeks of April can be fun for that spring skiing experience, but be aware that the resort will usually start closing parts of the terrain early in the month. The back bowls are usually the first to close due to their southern-facing exposures, which makes them the first to start melting come the spring.
Copper Mountain is joining the RFID revolution like many other North American resorts (just make sure to have your cell phone in a separate pocket!). The single-day prices vary depending on the time of the season but are generally around $150 for adults. Kids between the age of 6 and 12 get a discount while kids age 5 and younger always ski free at Copper. A magic carpet and beginner slope are free, and the Green Acres beginner area between East Village and the Village at Copper (or the “Center Village”) is available for beginners age 6 and older for $15 a day. For the most up-to-date lift prices check out the Copper Mountain lift tickets page.
Discounted tickets are sometimes available through Liftopia, and starting in January you can often find two for one vouchers at local Shell gas stations with a fuel purchase. The resort itself offers some pretty good deals too, so you don’t need to wait till the New Year to take your chances on what you can find at the gas station. If you’re staying for any length of time, check out the Four Pack or the Copper Pass. The Four Pack gets you four days of skiing or riding for $179 (regardless of age) without blackout dates, which includes discounts on tickets for your friends and family as well as discounts throughout the resort.
If you’re staying even longer, the Copper Pass offers unlimited skiing and riding, also with no blackout dates. On top of discounts throughout the resort, the Copper Pass also gives you three free days at Purgatory and Monarch Mountain, plus another three days skiing at Taos Ski Valley with free skiing at Grand Targhee if you stay in their resort lodging. This massive season pass starts from $449 for adults with discounts for college students, teens, and seniors as well as children between the age of 6 and 12. Prices increase as the season creeps near so be sure to book as early as you can!
For active duty military, reservists, National Guard, retirees, and their families, Copper Mountain offers an even better discount through their Military Pass. This pass gets you unlimited skiing or riding, up to 10 discounted tickets for friends, and extensive discounts all over the mountain. If you’re eligible, it’s hands-down the best deal going!
For all you ski-heads chasing the snow, there’s a couple of other pass options that let you ski nearby resorts if your calendar and travel budget allow it with the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus. It gets you unlimited skiing and riding (no blackout dates!) at Copper, Eldora, and Winter Park plus anywhere from three to seven days at ten other resorts in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Japan, New Zealand, and even Iceland! It’s $639 for adults with discounts for military, college students, teens, children 6-12, and seniors.
Copper is also included in the M.A.X. Pass which offers five days at each of the 44 – that’s right, 44! – ski areas with no blackouts. Prices are $729 for adults with discounts for teenagers, kids aged 6 to 12 and kids aged 5 and under. From Alaska to Southern California and British Columbia to Maine, if you’ve got a bit of wanderlust then you may want to check this one out!