THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Copper Mountain, Colorado

December 21, 2009 -- Copper is superb! Big, fast, wide open trails, terrific scenery, and lots to do in the town of Copper after the lifts close. There are also a large number of condos and places to eat within easy walking distance of the lifts. Copper is only 75 miles west of Denver, and is directly off Interstate 70.

I knew Copper well, when my children were growing up. We stayed about five times. Several of the visits were at the now-closed Club Med, which offered terrific Ski Cliniques all day for children and adults. Pity it is no longer there.

On this visit on December 10, 2009, I was pleased to see I remembered some of the lifts and trails, and my skis remembered the nuances of the mountains. We were the guests of Ari Stiller of Colorado Ski Country USA (Coloradoski.com) and he was enormously helpful. He picked us up and rode the trails with us on his snowboard. When you drop in on such a large area for a few short hours, it is essential to be with someone who knows the resort.

When we arrived, in bright sunshine and relative warmth, we were greeted by the site of dozens of daring competitors flying down the steep superpipe. It was the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix. It is much more exciting to watch these talented and fearless athletes in person than it is on television. I am grateful we did not witness any accidents while we were there. The competitors were from the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Poland, Norway, Japan, and perhaps other countries I have left out. You have to admire their skill and bravery. Astronauts have nothing on them!

While they were gliding and flipping, Ari escorted us down some wonderful runs off the American Flyer and American Eagle lifts. They included Coppertone, High Point, Bouncer, Rhapsody, and Main Vein. When all are open, Copper has 125 trails. Its longest trail is 2.8 miles, and its summit elevation is 12,313 feet. We went up to about 11,000 feet. Fortunately, the altitude was not very hard on me skiing down. My problem comes with walking and climbing stairs - especially in the heavy booths.

I highly recommend Copper - it may have been a copper mine, but it should be gold mines now. As usual, it is best to package your tour through the area, or through Colorado Ski Country, or with any group specials you can find. The more you bundle together in one package, the cheaper the rate. You might take a shuttle bus from the Denver airport; that way you don't have to worry about the driving. You don't need a car in Copper. And, there is a wonderful series of buses throughout the Colorado ski areas. Some are free and get you close to the lifts. But, even if you have to pay, it beats driving in the changeable conditions. Group transportation gives you the chance to savor some of the most dramatic scenery on earth! And, you usually meet some pretty interesting people, while you are at it.