Huffpost Travel

Ski Cooper: A Huffington Post Travel Ski Resort Guide

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Skiers glide through the mountains at Ski Cooper.
Skiers glide through the mountains at Ski Cooper.

Ski Cooper in Colorado is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Ski Cooper, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.

The Basics

Ski Cooper in Leadville, Colorado, may not have the size and name recognition of Aspen, Vail or Telluride, but it does have a rich history. Founded in 1942, the mountain -- then called Cooper Hill -- was originally used as a training area for the 10th Mountain Division Special Forces, also known as the "Ski Troops" of World War II. The family-friendly, community-run resort typically draws far smaller crowds than the more well-known Colorado ski areas, with fewer challenging runs and a rustic, small-town feel. Ski Cooper is part of the Rocky Mountains to the west of Denver; the closest airport is Denver International.

The Mountain

Ski Cooper is a mid-sized ski mountain with a vertical drop of 1,200 feet and an 11,700-foot summit. The snow on the trails is 100 percent natural, as Cooper has an annual average of 260 inches of snow. The ski season runs from November to April, snow permitting. There are 400 acres that are skiable by lift; the longest trail is nearly 1 1/2 miles in length. Skiers and snowboarders can gain access to another 2,000 acres of backcountry skiable terrain by Snowcat, a vehicle tour of historic Ski Cooper.

Trails And Lifts

Ski Cooper has 26 trails, with 70 percent at the beginner or intermediate level. Of the other 30 percent, one-third are double-diamond expert runs. There are no fancy high-speed lifts at Ski Cooper, just one triple, one double and three surface lifts -- enough to accommodate the resort's small crowds. Backcountry skiing is available above Chicago Ridge, accessible by Snowcat. Cooper's famous terrain park has all the bumps, jumps and altitude expected from a Colorado mountain.

In The News

Ski Cooper hosted the very first snowboarding competition in 1981. Though the competition was small, it marked the birth of modern competitive snowboarding. Cooper isn't otherwise known for hosting high-profile competitions, instead preferring its place as a small, volunteer-run community resort. Though there's been a push in recent years to add more challenging trails in the hopes of drawing more avid skiers, Lake County, Colorado, declined to accept outside bids to make changes to Cooper Mountain in early 2011.

Cost

Basic, full-day tickets are $44 for adults aged 15 to 59, $24 for kids aged 6 to 14, $32 for seniors aged 60 to 69, $19 for seniors 70 and older, $39 for military with ID and $21 for a military child. Half-day, multiday and season passes are available. Basic, full-day ski and snowboard equipment rentals are $25. Two-hour group lessons start at $45, with private lessons and multiday lessons available. For first-timers, a "Never-Ever" package is available, which includes a two-hour lesson, equipment rental and a beginner's Magic Carpet-only lift ticket for $50.

Apres-Ski

The Cooper Mountain Lodge at the base of the mountain features live apres-ski entertainment daily, including frequent appearances by native Colorado musician and storyteller Leon Joseph Littlebird. Historic Leadville, Colorado, offers a variety of restaurants, shops and activities. The resort doesn't cater to the luxury crowd like the more famous Colorado resorts, so guests can easily find affordable options, whether it's a bar and grill, sandwich shop or a steak house.

WATCH: Ski Cooper

Snowboarder Adam Stromwell visits Ski Cooper's historic terrain park.