Copper Mountain, Colorado: Rank 14 West, 1997

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Copper Mountain Resort has battled neighborhoodbullies in Summit County and the Vail Valley for years. With Vail buying Breckenridge and Keystone, andIntrawest acquiring Copper, it finally looks like a fair fight. In fact, skiers are being promised that if they visit Copper in a few years they won't recognize the place. Intrawest (of Whistler/Blackcomb fame) pledges Copper's lifeless village will come alive with shops, restaurants and nightlife. For now, skiers will have to be satisfied with some of the finest skiing and bowls in Colorado. The steeps in Resolution and Spaulding keep experts howling. Locals affectionately refer to the moderate terrain served by Timberline Express as "Happy Valley" because everyone there is always smiling. As one reader frets: "We do not want the rest of the world to know about Copper!" With Copper jumping from No. 23 to No. 14, it looks as if the news is out. Odd as it is, one of the finest restaurants at Copper, Racquets, is located in the athletic club. For a morecasual setting, head to the east village for prime rib and a rack of pool at Farley's Pub. Check out après-ski musician Moe Dixon at Kokomo's in the Copper Commons.

What's New Enhanced snowmaking and parking lots; for snowboarders, a big-air park, a beginners' jib park, a self-timed boardercross course and a halfpipe.
A Good Deal Ski free on the "K" and "L" beginner lifts. Inquire at any ticket desk.
Medals Gold Snow Quality, Terrain, Challenge, Value and Weather; Silver Grooming, Lifts, Service, Accessibility.
High/Low Rank Accessibility (8); Off-Hill Activities (45).
Don't Miss Pack a picnic lunch and head to "NOC's Landing," a secluded on-mountain picnic area tucked into the woodsbetween Collage and Andy's Encore.
Reader Remarks "Great terrain¿better than Vail overall. You don't spend a lot of time waiting in line." "Village is dull. Poor parking."