A look at Copper Mountain Resort’s new lodge, upgraded trails and expanded parking
Summit Daily News
Last season was a busy year for Copper Mountain Resort. Throughout the winter, Copper celebrated its 50th anniversary season, hosting several celebratory events and a handful of world-class ski and snowboard competitions.
In addition to celebrating the huge milestone, at the tail end of last year’s ski and ride season, Copper announced that it would make its single largest investment in over a decade with a new 25,000 square foot mid-mountain lodge spearheading the list of new developments for the ski resort.
Other improvements set to debut during the 2023-24 season and years beyond include the expansion of the Far East lot, the introduction of new winter trails and the upgrade of two lifts.
Far East lot
Throughout Copper’s 50th anniversary season, there were several times when all of Copper’s parking lots were filled to capacity, forcing skiers and riders to head back home or wait until a spot opened up in the afternoon.
Resort president and general manager Dustin Lyman saw the issues that Copper was having in terms of parking and decided to address the problem by expanding Copper’s Far East lot, which sits along Tenmile Creek on the other side of Colorado Highway 91 from the resort.
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With construction taking place throughout the summer, Copper has expanded the Far East lot about a half mile south, which will add 900 more parking spaces to the lot. The addition of the parking spots will bolster the Far East lot’s capacity to over 2,000 vehicles, which is expected to greatly improve the flow and traffic heading into the resort.
“We have gotten more visitation and gotten more popular in the last five years,” Lyman said. “More often than ever before, we have filled up our parking lots and were parking in a lot of different ancillary lots which made it more challenging to get the skiers from the lots to the hill. We think with this new parking lot and 900 more spots that it puts less demand on the transportation system which makes it a lot more efficient.”
With less demand on Copper’s transportation system, the resort hopes people will be able to get to the hill in less time in order to strap on their skis or board and explore the mountain.
In addition to 900 parking spots, Copper is also adding several shuttle pickup spots and restroom facilities to the Far East lot.
“There are multiple pick-up spots within this parking lot now,” Lyman said. “There are also new restroom facilities, which is great because people coming from Denver who are ready to burst have facilities here.”
In terms of transportation from the Far East and the Alpine lot, Copper has added two new buses to its COBUS fleet, which should help increase the frequency and quality of transportation to and from the resort.
“(It’s a) big investment for us in terms of parking and transportation,” Lyman said. “The COBUSes, the lots, it just makes it more efficient. We don’t want people to waste their time on the road. We want them to do what they came here to do, which is to go ski and ride.”
Copper will continue to offer free parking in its Alpine and Far East lots for day skiers and riders.
The most impressive improvement that Copper has made during the summer may be the construction of its beautiful, new mid-mountain lodge — The Aerie.
Standing tall at the top of the American Eagle lift, The Aerie consists of a 25,000-square foot, two-story, wood-paneled building that is expected to transform the dining experience at Copper.
Construction on the new lodge began during the 2022-23 winter season with lots of progress being made throughout the summer months. Now, a little under two months from opening day, the new lodge is receiving its finishing touches before the start of the ski and ride season.
When the lodge is completely finished it will feature Forage and Feast — a full-service restaurant bar and lounge — a private dining area for events, a cafeteria, a coffee shop and 270-degree views of the Gore and Tenmile mountain ranges.
The resort’s gondola will unload on the second-floor deck of The Aerie, which will allow for seamless transitions for all guests, including those who may be visiting the resort, but are not skiing or riding back down the hill.
“This is a true place where people can come and experience a mountain environment,” senior communications manager Loryn Roberson said. “See the skiing, see the views, have the food. You may not be a skier, but you can still come here and enjoy Copper.”
Copper plans to use The Aerie for a variety of new events and programming, including the Moonlight Dine and Ski, and special New Year’s Eve, Christmas and Valentine’s Day dinners.
“I just feel like this is a building befitting for Summit County,” Lyman said. “A building that this area deserves. I feel like we have kind of reset the bar for a on-mountain dining experience.”
The Aerie doesn’t just look good from the exterior and interior, but also shines bright in the back hallways, which will help make the building run. The Aerie will utilize a pristine, top-of-the-line kitchen for its restaurants and photovoltaic solar panels on the roof will supply energy to the building.
“We are just going to have to see,” Lyman said of The Aerie. “We have all these ideas in place, we designed it with the people who would use it in mind. We spared no expense. It is a true jewel for not just Copper, but the entire POWDR Corporation. It has been a long time in the works and a lot of people have worked hard to bring it to light. We are excited to unveil it. It looks beautiful.”
Snowmaking and trail upgrades
Not to be overshadowed by the major construction going on across the mountain, Copper is also working to enhance its snowmaking and trails before the start of the winter season.
The main project includes upgrades and replacements of Copper’s existing snowmaking infrastructure.
New automated tower snow guns will be in place in the resort’s Central Park terrain park and on the west side of the mountain. Both installations are expected to open up those areas of the mountain earlier in the season than in past years.
Copper will also see ski trail improvements with several trail upgrades, including the widening of the upper Carefree trail, enhancements to the Lower Enchanted traverse and glading near Lyman Lane.
Copper is adding two new ski trails prior to the beginning of the 2023-24 season, which will bring the resort’s trail count up to 157 trails and 2,507 skiable acres.
Within Copper’s village area, a new child care facility is set to open this winter for community members and employees. The facility will help serve the critical need for child support within the Summit, Lake and Eagle County communities and will provide more than 45 child care spots for those who live and work within Copper Mountain.
Although no real work will take place before the start of this winter, Copper continues to look forward to upgrading its Timberline Express and Lumberjack lifts.
Ahead of the 2024-25 season, Copper will begin the process of replacing the Timberline Express lift with a six-pack, high-speed lift.
“Timberline will be done next summer,” Lyman said. “The Timberline pot of trails is the best pot of blue terrain in the state of Colorado. That is why we are putting in that six-pack over there so people have shorter wait times and can access that terrain.”
Lumberjack has no timeline as of yet, but will continue to make progress towards a upgrade.
This story is from SummitDaily.com.