15. Copper Mountain, Colorado

Copper caters to everyone from families to powder seekers, carvers, and hardcore freestylers. The resort has undergone a major transformation. Once a nondescript locals’ mountain, now a strikingly beautiful and highly progressive destination resort, thanks to the many major improvements brought about since Intrawest bought the mountain a few years back. The resort has two halfpipes. Tsunami (Copper’s championship halfpipe) is located on the Carefree trail and boasts smooth transitions with big enough walls to challenge the world’s best snowboarders. A second halfpipe, the Banzai Pipeline, is located on the Bouncer trail within the resort’s terrain park, giving skiers and riders the option of using both features on the same run.

What makes Copper unique is the its terrain layout. Facing the mountain, beginner runs are on the right, experts to the left, and intermediates are in between. The resort has a naturally graduated pitch¿from really gentle on the right, to bowls and cirques with 2,500 feet of vert and black diamond trails the whole way down on the left.

The beginner area has a set of lifts naturally separated from the rest of the mountain. The degree of difficulty kicks up in the middle where the American Flyer and American Eagle are the happening quads. Carving on Main Vein is the Indy 500 of digging trenches. Groomed daily, it’s both the widest and most popular run. The trails on both sides have more rollers and less people. Timberline Express is another quad that offers tons of blue runs.

Colorado’s high-speed six-person chair, the Super Bee, has the most continuous vertical rise of any chairlift in the state¿2,300 feet in eight minutes to the top of Resolution Bowl. The view from the top is awesome. The resort used to mainly focus on marketing to families, now there’s an express route to the rad terrain for more adventurous riders. Copper is blessed by continuously steep runs and bowls with no flats or stair-steps, which makes it rider friendly.

This season, Copper is working with High Cascade Snowboard Camps. Riders from ages eleven to eighteen are grouped according to their ability and interest before being assigned a professional coach. Campers are instructed by some of the best riders in the world including Barrett Christy, Ali Goulet, and Greg Goulet. Full-day clinics involve improving both freeriding and freestyle techniques. Four-day camp packages include coaching, video analysis, lift tickets, transportation, off-hill activities, all meals, and lodging accommodations.

Copper Station, which serves the Super Bee six-pack, is a beautiful day lodge constructed of stone and wood that is the focal point of the East Village. The first floor features retail stores, snowboard rentals, lift-ticket windows, an information desk, and lockers. The second level has the Grand Hall Market serving breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks.

That’s just the beginning. The New Village¿including four new building with shops, restaurants, and open plazas on the ground level with accomodations located above¿is designed to incorporate the rustic, high-Alpine natural elements surrounding Copper. Intrawest has certainly put its best foot forward with the dramatic changes they have created to convert Copper into a Colorado jewel.