Guest post by Jennifer Close, Two Kids and a Map
When we moved from Pensacola, Florida to Denver, Colorado at the end of November, skiing wasn’t even on my family activity radar. My husband was excited about being closer to the mountain because he is an intermediate snowboarder but I had no interest in skiing. I had tried skiing once before on a trip to Wisp, Maryland and it wasn’t pretty. The adventure ended in a snow mobile ride down the mountain with a member of ski patrol. Not only do I have the bad memory of that one day of skiing, I am also not really a fan of cold weather or snow. Or, so I thought.
Our recent visit to Copper Mountain has completely changed my mind. As a Southern gal, I was very nervous and anxious about our ski trip. I am used to tank tops, flip flops and trips to the beach but I was determined to make the best of it.
You can find nonstop flights from Atlanta to Denver for under $200 right now, which helps to make the mountains of Colorado accessible for that big winter family vacation. If you are thinking about traveling to Copper Mountain, there are a number of things to consider before your trip.
Altitude sickness can hit you hard. When we first moved from sea level to 6000 feet, the altitude difference affected me despite the fact that I didn’t think it would. Besides the headaches and dehydration, we tired much more quickly. If you can, plan at least one day in Denver or one day of downtime in your mountain lodge before hitting the slopes. Because we had already been in Denver for a few weeks, our bodies had acclimated to the altitude but I still felt like I couldn’t catch my breath at times and that I couldn’t get enough water to drink. Be sure that you drink water before and during your trip.
Driving from Denver
If you are visiting Copper Mountain, you will likely fly into Denver International Airport. The drive to the mountains is only about two hours but with traffic through Denver and then traffic on the mountain road, it can take several more hours. The drive down will be similar. One thing that surprised me about the drive was that it is not the small windy mountain roads that you might be used to in the South. For the most part, the trip up to the mountain resorts is a two or three lane highway.
Take a Lesson
January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and you can take both private and group lessons on Copper Mountain. I definitely recommend spending the money to take a ski or snowboard lesson. They can be pricey, but they are worth the money. As a beginner, the knowledge you will get in just a one day ski lesson is priceless. If you really want to give the whole ski thing a go, lessons will help you learn how to ski the proper way. In our first lesson at Copper Mountain, the instructor taught us how to put on and take off our skis, carry them, how to brake, and how to turn.
I didn’t take a lesson the first time I went skiing. I relied on my husband to teach me and we realized that we should stick to the husband and wife roles, not the student and teacher role. The lesson gave me the confidence to get back on that ski lift even though I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever do that again! We took a group lesson with four other adults. All six of us learned at a different pace. The instructor worked well with each of us and made sure that he didn’t leave anyone behind.
While we took a lesson, our children also took a lesson. I was impressed with the way that everything moved so smoothly. We checked our children into their lesson. It wasn’t time to drop them off so we checked ourselves into our lesson. The children’s ski lesson begins at 9:30am and the adult lessons begin at 10am. That gave us enough time to drop off our kids, make sure that everything went okay before we had to show up at our lesson. The children’s lesson went just as well as our own lesson. When it was time to pick up our kids, we had to practically tear both of them off of the hill to drive back home.
Alternatives to Skiing
What if snowboarding or skiing just isn’t your thing? Whether your lesson is a bust or you just don’t have any interest in it, there are still a number of reasons to head to Copper Mountain for a winter family vacation.
The Tubing Hill is fun for anyone over 36 inches. There are four tubing runs and each one gets progressively faster. The Tubing Hill is a timed entry so be sure to get your tickets early. We arrived at 11am and the next available time was 1pm. We opted to snow tube at 6pm in the evening and really enjoyed the night tubing experience. Kids will love to go ice skating or play broom ball on the frozen West Lake.
The Alpine Rush Zip Line sends you flying 300 feet across West Lake. This was the first time we had ever zip lined. The zip line is not so scary that you won’t want to try it but it will still give you a bit of an adrenaline rush. You must be over 36 inches to ride the zip line. If your children are eight years or older, you can participate in a free afternoon snowshoe tour. The tour takes participants over beginner terrain and is a good way to get introduced to snowshoeing.
If your little ones aren’t 36 inches yet, take them to Critterland where they can safely play. There are lots of great restaurants to grab a meal and a spa on site for treatments and massages. We didn’t have a chance to explore everything we wanted to in the weekend we were there. We can’t wait to return to Copper Mountain to explore some more.
Don’t be nervous if you are heading out on your first ski trip. It can be a great family activity and a successful adventure.
*Thank you to Copper Mountain for hosting our stay. All opinions are mine.