Elevate Your Skiing Experience: Why Copper Mountain is a Must-Visit Destination

While most ski resorts wait for the snow to cover trails, Copper Mountain in Colorado welcomes the U.S. Ski Team to train at a speed center described as a “game changer for U.S. athletes.” Though this is undoubtedly of benefit to World Cup contenders and Olympic hopefuls, even more, impressive is what the ski resort offers the next generation of ski athletes. 

During the Thanksgiving break, my family accompanied my 16-year-old daughter Kayla as she attended a ski camp run by U.S. Elite Camps. As a result, I had a unique opportunity to witness what young athletes and their families can find at this impressive winter vacation destination.

U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain | Copper Mountain, CO

What Makes Copper Mountain A Top Ski Mountain

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Copper Mountain Ski Resort is a premier winter destination for skiers and snowboarders alike. With over 2,400 skiable acres, 140 trails, and a summit elevation of 12,313 feet, Copper Mountain offers a variety of terrain for all levels of skiers, from beginners to experts.

But Copper Mountain is more than just a ski resort – it’s a winter wonderland that offers something for everyone, from stunning natural beauty to world-class dining and shopping.

Copper Mountain’s history as a ski destination dates back to the 1970s when it was first developed as a ski resort. Today, Copper Mountain is known as one of the best ski resorts in the country, with a reputation for exceptional snow quality and a wide range of terrain. From the gentle slopes of West Village to the challenging black diamond runs of the bowls and backcountry, Copper Mountain has something for every skier.

Celebrity Sightings At Copper

There is little that is more inspirational to an aspiring alpine racer than meeting one of their heroes, except, perhaps, seeing them in action. One of the most exciting moments of Kayla’s week at Copper was spotting Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn racing down the trail next to hers, but this was far from a singular occurrence. Those willing to position themselves near the Super Bee lift, where the U.S. ski team’s downhill race course bottoms out, have ample opportunity to see elite skiers zooming to a finish.

Even after the U.S. Ski Team’s early season runs, champion skiers and snowboarders can still be found at Copper Mountain as teams from around the world come to train at the speed center. And that’s not to mention the guaranteed sightings when Copper hosts major events in the U.S. Sprint Grand Prix tour, NorAm Speed Series, USASA National Championships, or the U.S. Alpine Championships.

Ski Lessons at Copper Mountain

For the youngest skiers or those new to the sport, it almost goes without saying that ski lessons are a must. Even on a budget, ski lessons are worth the expense because help you make the most of your time on the slopes. But what about those skiers who have already mastered how to tackle all sorts of ski conditions, how do they take skiing to the next level?

Speed skier bringing in gate posts at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain. | Copper Mountain, CO

Copper Mountain offers a number of competition training programs including Club Racing and Custom Race Camps; Masters Skiing Program, Village Race Series, Public Race Arena and NASTAR, and Copper Bordercross Training Program. And because Copper Mountain is an exceptional place to train ski athletes, a number of race programs from around the country plan ski camps and clinics.

The Barn – Woodward at Copper 

Hands down, the highlight of my 13-year-old son Alex’s ski vacation was tackling a ski jump at The Barn, an indoor snowboard and ski training facility with trampolines, foam pits and Snowflex jumps. A first of its kind, The Barn is part of Woodward at Copper, one of a number of sports camps also found in California, Pennsylvania, and China that feature year-round programs and summer camps in snowboarding and freeskiing, as well as: BMX, cheer, gymnastics, inline skating, skateboarding, and even digital media.

Alex signed up for a 2-hour session on a midweek evening, when we figured he might start to need a break from the slopes. Which was a smart strategy, if only he hadn’t realized how much fun this was going to be. In that one session, which included a mandatory 1:45 minute training session, he went from learning how to do a jump without skis–on the gymnastics mat, and then into a foam pit–before tacking a steep slope covered in what looked like the soft side of Velcro.

Travel Tip – Minimum age is 8. You provide your own ski or snowboard equipment for indoor jumps.

There’s More To Copper Mountain Than Skiing

Skiing is just the beginning of what Copper Mountain has to offer. For those who want to experience the beauty of the mountains without hitting the slopes, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing, and snowmobiling are just a few of the options available. And for those who want to take a break from the cold, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy as well, including spas, art galleries, and boutique shopping.

Spa Treatments for Kids

Visitors booking Copper Mountain lodging enjoy complimentary use of the Athletic Club, which includes a pool, hot tubs, steam rooms, sauna, and fitness equipment. Everyone else can purchase a day pass or multi-use pass card. My daughter enjoyed full use of the facilities as her ski camp scheduled evening activities, including pool time and Wallyball sessions.

If our days and nights hadn’t been fully booked, Kayla would have loved to sign up for the Pampered Teen Spa Package. Children as young as 7 years old are booking spa treatments, with younger kids leaning more toward getting massages (vs. facials.) Cynthia Finlan, the Athletic Club Supervisor, says that more and more parents are swearing by the “therapeutic benefits of massage for relieving toxins” that can lead to soreness and prevent optimal performance.

Where To Eat at Copper Mountain

We saved a bundle on dining out by sticking to heat-and-serve meals and quick-to-prepare items with only limited apres ski visits to Ten Mile Tavern. On Thanksgiving, we joined the ski camp’s athletes, coaches, and families at a traditional holiday banquet. And for a special splurge, we enjoyed a night of fondue, Bavarian dancing, and twilight gondola rides at Keystone’s Der Fondue Chessel (culminating in a day trip to the nearby ski resort.)

Sugar Lips Mini Donuts - Copper Mountain, CO

The one culinary delicacy that we HAD to sample at Copper Mountain was the fabled Sugar Lips Mini Donuts, whose substantial appeal includes watching the owner fry up a fresh batch of melt-in-your mouth yumminess right in front of your eyes.

Where To Stay at Copper Mountain

Center Village

The most convenient place to stay at Copper Mountain is at Center Village bustling hub of the resort, where visitors can find a variety of amenities and activities. Located at the base of the mountain, Center Village offers easy access to the American Eagle lift (for advanced skiers) and the American Flyer lift (for beginners.) Plus, there’s a wide range of shops, restaurants, and accommodations. The village features a pedestrian-friendly layout with heated sidewalks and outdoor fire pits, creating a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.

Visitors can take a stroll through the village and browse through the shops, which offer a range of goods, including ski gear, souvenirs, and clothing. Center Village is also home to a variety of dining options, including the popular apres-ski spot, Ten Mile Tavern.

East Village

I like to think that we saved a few bucks by renting an apartment via VROB.com. Our 2-bedroom condo was fine, a little dated and lacking in any special amenities, but certainly sufficient for our needs. Because it was so early in the season, the discounted rate worked out to about $170/night for seven nights. The downside was that our condo was situated in Copper Mountain’s East Village, which is serviced by the Super Bee lift–closed to the public during the U.S. Ski Team’s training weeks.

Getting to Copper Mountain

In good weather, Copper Mountain is a surprisingly easy 1:45 minute drive from Denver International Airport along a 2-3 lane highway. For our family of 5 (including my mother-in-law,) I rented an SUV via HotWire.com.

The great thing about HotWire.com is that you can get a really good price; in this case, we rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee or similar-sized car at a relatively reasonable rate. The drawback is you don’t know exactly what kind of car that you’re getting until you get there. In our case, I underestimated the car size needed to accommodate our family and all our ski gear and ended up upgrading to a Chevy Suburban.

For future car rentals, we might look into getting a car with a car rack, but my husband is fairly adamant about not exposing expensive racing skis to the elements.

Luckily, even with the bigger vehicle, we never had to squeeze everybody & everything into the SUV. Kayla traveled ahead with the ski camp van, and my husband returned via the Summit Express Airport  Shuttle.

Looking ahead to next year, it’s highly likely that we’ll repeat our Thanksgiving ski trip to Copper Mountain. Kayla’s racing form improved significantly over the ski camp week, giving her a decided boost at the onset of the season. Since I missed skiing at Copper due to surgical recovery, I’m eager to check out the slopes myself. And Copper Mountain is one of the most reliable ski resorts for good snow during Thanksgiving, in addition to being a fun destination for a winter family vacation all season long.

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