Nightlife-or lack thereof-is the one perennial knock to vacationing at Copper. "Bring Pictionary or the latest edition of SKI if you're staying overnight! You'll need something to do," quips one reader, followed by another who adds: "Not much to do but ski." Hey, things could be worse. What this easily accessed ski area 75 miles west of Denver lacks in glitz it more than makes up for with 2,433 acres of knockout terrain. "Always new and challenging," says one reader. "It really is where the skiers ski in Colorado." Resolution Bowl is quietly as good as it gets at any resort in North America and Andy's Encore makes any intermediate sing. Still, top brass is going to great lengths to improve what have been identified as "deficiencies"-namely the social scene. After almost two years of construction, a massive 35,000-square-foot base lodge, three lodges and the outdoor "Copper Beach" common area will be in use this season. "They are finally giving the resort some personality," says one reader. Progress does have its price. "Copper has lost its appeal as a locals' place," complains another. Indeed, the village has been the focal point for redevelopment since Intrawest purchased Copper Mountain in 1997. Since then, the new Copper Station day lodge and Copper Springs Lodge have opened, a six-passenger and high-speed quad lift added, and several lift terminals relocated. "Lots of construction, but will be nice when it's done," predicts a reader. Now, will the investment pay off? Stay tuned for next year's rankings.
WHAT'S NEW Camp One base lodge; The Mill Club, Taylor's Crossing and Tucker Mountain lodges; a climbing wall; "Copper Beach" in the village.
A GOOD DEAL Ski Free/Stay Free. Buy three nights' lodging and a three-day lift ticket and get the fourth day and night free. Prices start at $244 per person.
MEDALS GOLD Accessibility, Weather, Lifts, Terrain, Snow, Value, Challenge; SILVER Grooming, On-Mountain Food, Service, Scenery.
HIGH/LOW RANK Accessibility (6), Weather (7), Lifts (8); Après-Ski (40), Off-Hill Activities (40), Dining (45).
DON'T MISS Check out the new 35-foot climbing wall while you dine at one of the resort's new restaurants in the main village.
READER REMARKS (+) "Best skiing in Colorado." "It's very easy to crisscross the mountain and hit virtually any type of terrain." (-) "Needs fine dining and quality nightlife." "Can get very crowded with long liftlines."