By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Copper Mountain opened on November 1.
Splurge: "To get right in the heart of things, I'd spend the extra coin and stay at one of the condos right at the base area, because there's nothing like waking up, stepping outside your door and strapping in," Boeser says. Try the Mill Club, near Burning Stones Plaza, or Copper One, both in Center Village and overlooking the resort. "For higher-end dining, try C.B. Grille or the Storm King sushi restaurant. But honestly, the best splurge would be to get over to Woodward and do a session in the Barn or one of their on-snow programs. They do all kinds of camps and group and private lessons over there that would be pretty sweet."
Ski bum tips: The Tucker Mountain snowcat gives free rides from the base of the Mountain Chief lift Friday through Sunday, accessing 273 acres and 1,200 vertical feet. "The Sugar Lips Mini Donut shop is also pretty tough to pass up," says Boeser. Ski bum in training? First-timers at Copper Mountain can ride the Easy Ryder magic carpet in Center Village for free, then progress to the Pitchfork lift in Green Acres for a $15 lift ticket. "If you're really looking to save some money, I'd stay and eat in Frisco," Boeser advises.
Drink locally: "Our recent expansion pushed our capacity up to 3,500 barrels a year, up from about 1,000 last year, so we've got a lot more room to play," says Adam Dunbar, a spokesman for Backcountry Brewery in Frisco. "The transition has also helped us make the move from only selling 22-ounce bombers to now being able to offer almost all of our beers in twelve-ounce bottles for six packs." Try the amber or pilsner, both bronze-medalists at the 2103 Colorado State International Competition, or the ever-popular Breakfast Stout, made with a blend of Guatemalan and Costa Rican coffee.
Crested Butte deserves its reputation as home to some of the most extreme skiing and steepest slopes in the state; paradoxically, it's also one of the most kid-friendly resorts anywhere. Over the summer, the mountain crew put in work on both fronts, glading tree runs between Double Top and Black Eagle while cutting three new kids' trails that wind through the trees in the Painter Boy area. The trails, which boast features like a ski-through bear cave, nod to Crested Butte's mining-town history.
"If you're here for the Extreme Limits terrain like the rest of us, the $10 Extreme Limits Ski Guide is worth it, so you don't find yourself in over your head," says Eli Pardini, who funds his snowboarding habit by bartending at the Eldo Brewery & Taproom in town. "For example, Dead End Chute is called 'dead end' for a reason: If you're not comfortable with some mandatory air, you can find yourself in a precarious position pretty quick. You can also link up with a guide for an extreme tour.
"As for my own personal-favorite powder stashes on the mountains? That would have to be the None-ya Woods, as in 'None-ya business,'" he adds. "Let's just say that anywhere the ski patrol has just pulled the rope is going to be awesome, and if you're wearing an avalanche transceiver, they'll bump you to the front of the line." Opening day at Crested Butte is November 27.
Splurge: "Soupçon Bistro is absolutely phenomenal and worth every penny if you're trying to make your trip here extra-special," says Pardini. "Definitely make reservations, because it's a tiny little place and they only do two seatings a night. But chef Jason Vernon and his crew just kill it. And if money's no object, the best splurge around is the luxury snowcat tour with Irwin Colorado, which I can't say enough good things about, and their Scarp Ridge Lodge — also known as Irwin's Eleven — is definitely the highest-end lodging around here."
Ski bum tips: "The Crested Butte Hostel is the cheapest in town, and it's actually pretty nice," Pardini says. "For cheap eats, try Teocalli Tamale. There are so many good restaurants in town and they all do different deals, but honestly, you can't go wrong with the Eldo — or anywhere in town, for that matter."
Drink locally: "Our happy hour is $3.50 drafts from 3 to 8 p.m., with discounts on everything else, including Colorado craft beers. Out-of-towners are always shocked by the bar tabs, because it's pretty damn cheap to drink around here for a ski town," Pardini says. But he also recommends a visit to the Montanya Rum tap room at the Powerhouse. "Their specialty cocktails are off the chart, and you'll definitely want to leave with a bottle or two as a Crested Butte souvenir."
"Location, location, location. Eldora is the epitome of a locals' mountain," says Jeffrey Greene, whose pub, Very Nice Brewing, is celebrating its one-year anniversary this month in nearby Nederland. "You don't have to travel up and down I-70, the place has very good terrain with something for everyone, and we seem to get really great snow even when some other places don't get any. I'm expecting we'll see some new faces this year now that Eldora's on the Epic Pass, but for the most part, this is where people from Boulder and Denver come to ski. The employees are locals, and you're not paying resort prices or getting resort vibes."