Colorado Please share your thoughts on Copper Mountain & Winter Park

Ken in LA

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I had the best time this year using the Ikon pass to visit resorts I had always dreamed of. Of all the trips (Aspen, Steamboat, Squaw/Alpine, Mammoth, SLC), the resorts in Colorado were standouts. What I especially enjoyed were the long ski runs. Whereas at most ski resorts I am required to frequently sit on a lift; at Ajax, Snowmass, and Steamboat, the wonderfully long runs allowed for ample time on the slope before returning to the chair.

And let’s face it, Colorado is a very cool state. I plan to return next season and maybe visit some different places. Copper Mountain and Winter Park are both on the Ikon pass. Could you please share your thoughts?

Specifically:

1) If you had to choose one resort over the other which would you choose and why? Maybe I should just visit both.

2) Are there convenient shuttles and public transportation or should I just plan to rent a car? I will be visiting mid-week and the ski train to WP only runs on weekends. I don’t enjoy winter driving but am not completely against it if it makes sense.

3) Where do you recommend staying at each resort? Winter Park seems pretty clear-cut... at Copper there are some nearby towns (Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne). Are these good options?

Thank you :)
 

Drahtguy Kevin

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1) I would choose Copper. I’m much more familiar with the area and can always find good snow. It is much bigger with any type of terrain you want. Plenty of long groomers and the naturally divided terrain make finding your playground somewhat easy.

2) You can find a shuttle service from Denver without much trouble. Plenty to choose from as well.

3) Staying on mountain makes getting to the lift a snap. That said, staying in Dillon/Silverthorne or Frisco offers more options for meals, entertainment, etc. lodging will be cheaper in town. Catching a bus to Copper from town is simple enough.
 

Ken_R

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I had the best time this year using the Ikon pass to visit resorts I had always dreamed of. Of all the trips (Aspen, Steamboat, Squaw/Alpine, Mammoth, SLC), the resorts in Colorado were standouts. What I especially enjoyed were the long ski runs. Whereas at most ski resorts I am required to frequently sit on a lift; at Ajax, Snowmass, and Steamboat, the wonderfully long runs allowed for ample time on the slope before returning to the chair.

And let’s face it, Colorado is a very cool state. I plan to return next season and maybe visit some different places. Copper Mountain and Winter Park are both on the Ikon pass. Could you please share your thoughts?

Specifically:

1) If you had to choose one resort over the other which would you choose and why? Maybe I should just visit both.

2) Are there convenient shuttles and public transportation or should I just plan to rent a car? I will be visiting mid-week and the ski train to WP only runs on weekends. I don’t enjoy winter driving but am not completely against it if it makes sense.

3) Where do you recommend staying at each resort? Winter Park seems pretty clear-cut... at Copper there are some nearby towns (Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne). Are these good options?

Thank you :)
Copper Mountain would be my choice. The terrain is awesome and its close to Frisco / Dillon / Silverthorne which is nice. WP is far away from everything really compared to Copper.
 

UGASkiDawg

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Both are fun mountains so if your coming hit up both of them i if you have time. They will both be uber crowded relative to the Aspen areas though so be forewarned.
 

surfsnowgirl

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Never been to winter park but spent 2 days at copper this past January and had a blast. Great snow, and varied terrain and plenty of places to hide away from base area. Easy drive from Denver. We stayed in silverthorne which is a great town and just had an amazing time. Can't wait to get back.
 

cosmoliu

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1) I would choose Winter Park. I am much more familiar with the area and can always find good snow. ...Any type of terrain you want. Plenty of long groomers and the naturally divided terrain make finding your playground somewhat easy. Oh, and Mary Jane's bumps are legendary for good reason.

2) Home James shuttle takes you right up there in about 2.5 hours. You can do without a car; I have many times. Berthoud Pass can be dicey in a heavy storm, and you can bet that the rental cars don't have great winter tires. The only time a car really comes in handy is for runs to the Safeway for groceries. Otherwise no great grocery options in town.

3) Staying in town is very convenient with the bus network. I like the SnowBlaze condos. The last stop on the way up to the mountain for all but one line is at SnowBlaze, you don't meander around for the next 20 min picking up more passengers.
 

coskigirl

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1) I would choose Copper. I’m much more familiar with the area and can always find good snow. It is much bigger with any type of terrain you want. Plenty of long groomers and the naturally divided terrain make finding your playground somewhat easy.

2) You can find a shuttle service from Denver without much trouble. Plenty to choose from as well.

3) Staying on mountain makes getting to the lift a snap. That said, staying in Dillon/Silverthorne or Frisco offers more options for meals, entertainment, etc. lodging will be cheaper in town. Catching a bus to Copper from town is simple enough.
What he said.
 

Philpug

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I ahve had quite a few "work trips" ie trade shows at both mountians. Winter park feel old and warn....and not in that comfortable pair of jeans way. Winter Park feels like margerine to Copper being butter.
 

Bad Bob

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You have a no loose choice here. Both very good mountains but for a few days would choose Copper for simplicity and variety. Having the Summit County towns within easy driving is a real plus too.

In defense of WP/MJ there is a lot of on mountain infrastructure work happening this summer and next so it should feel a little fresher, and for a few days the base village would work; a few bars and restaurants that should keep you entertained for a few days.
 
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Ken in LA

Ken in LA

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Hi Folks, Thank you for all the valuable info. Based on your feedback:

I will attempt to visit both resorts. Prior to posting I was prioritizing WP over Copper because I love bump skiing and Mary Jane is a famous destination, however, I now see Copper should by no means be skipped over. Prior to receiving an Ikon pass I had not even heard of Copper and did not realize it was such an outstanding resort. Being sandwiched between Vail & Breck, Copper seems to suffer from the Pavarotti Effect.

I will also be very careful on the Berthold Pass or hire shuttles to avoid driving altogether. There appears to be Uber service is the Rockies... That would be ideal for transferring between the two resorts but it seems too good to be true.
 

TonyPlush

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My two cents:
  • If you like bumps and the feeling of a more isolated resort, you'll prefer Winter Park.
  • If you like long groomers want to be nearer the action of Dillon/Silverthorne/Breckenridge, you'll like Copper better.
  • Blue and Green skiers will probably prefer Copper.
  • Black to Double Black skiers will come down to personal preference between the two.
You mentioned you've been to SLC. Of all the resorts I've been to, WP skis most similar to Canyons, in my opinion.

You also mentioned you liked long runs. In my opinion, this is Winter Park's weak spot. Like you, two of my favorite mountains are Aspen/Snowmass and Steamboat, and in my opinion Winter Park skis nothing like those two. Lots of shorter runs with double fall lines or long, slow runouts back to the lift.
 
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Jerez

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I know Winter Park better. The answer is, of course, it depends.

Winter Park actually has slightly more skiable acres than Copper.

Frisco/Silverthorne can be great since you'd have other mountain choices nearby for variety. (Loveland, A-Basin etc.) But you really need a car if you're going to ski Copper from there. I found the base area of Copper to be very minimal and wouldn't want to stay there myself unless it was only for a long weekend. You emphasized long runs and I think Copper has more of that, at least in greens and blues. If you liked the Sunshine lift area at Steamboat, I recall Copper has a similar long green/blue runs area. Its areas are also well segregated by ability, which is good to keep the fast vs slow skier annoyance at a minimum.... unless you are skiing with people of different ability and want to meet up throughout the day, then it's not so good.

Winter Park has better tree skiing IMO with trees for low intermediates all the way up to tight and steep. WP is a great mountain if you like to explore and are not just about the named trails. It is not a good mountain for snowboarders, however, as it has some long runouts, especially at the bottom of Vasquez ridge area, which is where you'll find good long blues. There are lots of place where you can ski a black while a friend skis a blue and still meet at the same lift. Winter Park's free shuttle and bus service combined with Home James from the airport makes it easy to do without a car, even if you choose to stay in town and do a VRBO or Air B&B. The town of Winter Park isn't especially chic or picturesque like, say Steamboat, but it isn't as suburban in feel as Silverthorne or much of Frisco is either.

Both have terrific rec centers with pools and saunas and gyms.
 

Lofcaudio

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You also mentioned you liked long runs. In my opinion, this is Winter Park's weak spot. Like you, two of my favorite mountains are Aspen/Snowmass and Steamboat, and in my opinion Winter Park skis nothing like those two. Lots of shorter runs with double fall lines or long, slow runouts back to the lift.
This is right on the money. Plain and simple, Winter Park does not have long runs similar to Aspen and Steamboat. Sleeper and Mary Jane Trail are probably the closest runs that might fit that criteria. Winter Park suffers from HUGE bottleneck issues with most of the good stuff throwing you on Edelweiss at some point which gets ridiculously crowded and skied off even on days with decent snow and low crowds. I would only recommend Winter Park to those who say they like lots of long, dull run-outs.

I much prefer Copper overall.
 

TonyPlush

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This is right on the money. Plain and simple, Winter Park does not have long runs similar to Aspen and Steamboat. Sleeper and Mary Jane Trail are probably the closest runs that might fit that criteria.
Truth. In my three days at Winter Park, Sleeper was the only run I found that felt Snowmass-esque, and while it's a fantastic run overall, the fastest way to lap it still involves a ~1/4 mile runout back to Super Gauge Express.
 

JoeSchmoe

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I have one day at Copper and two at WP. After skiing pretty much all the resorts within 3-4 hours from Denver, I'd say Copper would be the best and WP would be my least favourite.

I'm curious though... How do the weekend crowds compare? I've only skied both midweek.

I'm considering a super bowl weekend trip to copper but would reconsider if the Ikon Pass brought in too many people.
 

James

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I'm considering a super bowl weekend trip to copper but would reconsider if the Ikon Pass brought in too many people.
Go to Sunlight!
We were there when the Broncos were in tbe SB. Still not crowded.
 

Jerez

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It is so interesting how emphatic folks are and what they like. I prefer WP to Copper. It is just different and perhaps a little less resort-y. Its charm lies in the off piste and trees and the various spaces in between. But I am glad so many prefer Copper as both mountains seem to have gotten more crowded. I suspect that has more to do with the runaway population growth of the greater Denver area than IKON though.
 

James

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It is so interesting how emphatic folks are and what they like. I prefer WP to Copper. It is just different and perhaps a little less resort-y. Its charm lies in the off piste and trees and the various spaces in between. But I am glad so many prefer Copper as both mountains seem to have gotten more crowded. I suspect that has more to do with the runaway population growth of the greater Denver area than IKON though.
Never been to Winter Park. It's certainly getting trashed in this thread.
 

mdf

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I have 4 days at Winter Park, in spring when only the Mary Jane part was open. I enjoyed it, and would like to go back when the whole thing was open. I liked the town of Winter Park.Safeway is very close (even if technically in the next town over), and there is a smaller grocery right there. Lots of wine stores. Some good bars/brew pubs. Several ski shops. I had a couple of very good meals there. My airbnb was excellent, about 1/4 mile off the main drag.
 
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