2002 Number 16 Resort In North America: Copper Mountain, Colo.

Resort Guide 1001 Copper Pic BB

Copper Mountain's once snoozy village is finally catching up with the resort's world-class mountain. Canadian resort powerhouse Intrawest took charge of Copper in 1997 and went back to the drawing board. Guests have been wallowing in construction dust for the past three years, as three new base lodges were built (one for each village: East, Main and West), numerous condominium buildings were added, and several lifts were upgraded to high-speed quads. A new six-passenger flying couch even zips you from base-to-summit in just nine minutes. Getting around the 2,433-acre mountain has never been easier. "When buildout is complete, Copper will be a premier mountain resort," chirps one happy reader. Not everyone endorses the upgrades. "It's becoming like all other resorts on I-70. They should just combine them all," groans another. "If they keep building, they will totally ruin it." One agreed fact: This easily accessed resort (just 75 interstate miles west of Denver) is annually praised for its natural "segregation" of terrain, with the toughest slopes at the far east, and increasingly easier skiing as you head west. "The mountain is perfectly arranged for all levels of ability," coos one reader. "Thank you, Mother Nature!" For the ultimate in bumps, hit the runs serviced by A-Lift and Resolution Bowl. As one reader sums it up: "I've owned season passes at six Colorado mountains and still ski Copper 90 percent of the time."

WHAT'S NEW The Center Village will finally be in full swing. Still skeptical about the nightlife scene? Pravda, a new "Russian-style" dance club and bar, and a new traditional Irish pub are both slated to open by March.

A GOOD DEAL Grab a $2.99 burger at Molly B's, at the base of Super Bee, and enjoy song and revelry with Copper après fixture Moe Dixon.

MEDALS GOLD Access, Lifts, Weather, Terrain, Value, Challenge; SILVER Snow, Grooming, Service, On-Mountain Food, Family Programs.

HIGH/LOW RANK Access (10), Lifts (10), Weather (17); Après-Ski (41), Off-Hill Activities (42), Dining (48).

DON'T MISS Free catskiing on Tucker Mountain. You can point and laugh at people waiting in liftlines. The cats run Wednesdays through Sundays, weather permitting, from the base of Copper Bowl.

READER REMARKS (+) "Consistently the nicest staff. Lifties are great!" "Nice, long blue runs."
(-) "Lodging is too expensive for size of rooms." "Too many cheap ski passes and too many people on weekends."