Copper Mountain – Rocky Mountain High

Forget that it’s easy to get to, that the locals are super friendly, and there is a low-key vibe tied to its mining history. You can even forget that there are 3oo days of sunshine every year, but you can’t disregard the 300 inches of fresh powder.

If this isn’t reason enough to convince any skier to head to Copper Mountain in Colorado, how about free cat skiing?

Well, not totally free. You have to have a lift ticket, but unlike other resorts where you pay a premium for the privilege to ski the back bowls, it’s included in the price at Copper.

You can take as many runs as you want, but the kicker is that the cats only come out Friday to Sunday.

When it comes to the lay of the land, Copper is a rare hill. Its three peaks are naturally divided by ability level. There are no mountain-top lunch spots, but the hill is a cinch to navigate, so friends can easily meet up for lunch at one of the many restaurants in any of the three base villages.

The sun’s out, Colorado’s famous champagne powder is beautiful, it’s mid-week, and only a handful of riders are cutting fresh tracks in the new snow that fell overnight.

We hit Spaulding Bowl for some nice wide-open steep stuff above the tree line. The only thing better than the snow on this bluebird day is the view — just beautiful.

On the far east side, Too Much challenges us with its moguls the size of VW bugs. We rest our wobbly legs in the East Village and fuel up at JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern on fantastic wood-fired pizza.

The US Ski team heads to Copper Mountain in November to train, but there’s no rush to get here; the snow lasts late into the season. The lift lines are generally short since most locals take to the golf course long before the snow has melted.

We finish the day by hitting Union Peak, leading to some challenging glade runs, then a table at Jack & Jill in Center Village for some après beers.

All the lodging at Copper Mountain is in three villages close to the lifts, shops and restaurants. Center Village sports a good-sized ice outdoor ice rink, while East Village is home to a tubing hill.

We opted for a soak in the outdoor hot tub, a great dinner at C.B. Grill and an early turn-in — another excellent mountain day in Colorado.

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World Class Training Facility

Woodward at Copper Mountain is a 19,000-square-foot cool, bounce, jump, flip and fly “barn” for the future Alex Bilodeau’s in the family. Year-round programs are run at the indoor space located in the village to teach boarders and skiers, both young and old, air awareness.

Started in Pennsylvania in the 70s, Woodward now has world-class training facilities in five states.

The guides are all young, keen and happy to see you improve. The ramps, bowls, trampolines and foam pits are great for developing skills, regardless of your ability level.

New this year, Woodward is offering ski and snowboard lessons slope side. No terrain park ability is required; if you can link your turns and stop, you qualify for a Woodward lesson.

Don’t miss out . . . sign up before leaving home.