The History of Copper Mountain Resort, Colorado
"If there were a mountain that had terrain for skiing it would be Copper Mountain. It is probably the most outstanding potential ski area in the Arapahoe National Forest, and possibly Colorado. The north facing peaks of Copper Mountain offer an excellent variety of development for expert, intermediate and beginner skiers. The unique thing is that all three varieties are separated by definite terrain features, and in all three cases the skier can ski back into the base area. The mountain has good snow and sparse tree cover created by old burns, which offers a tremendous opportunity to create natural type runs that blend in with the surrounding countryside."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Blessed with a nearly perfect mountain, Copper is one of Colorado's best ski areas, enjoying forty years of awesome skiing and snowboarding.
Native Americans and Native Coloradans
Several hundred years ago, Copper was home to the Ute and Arapaho Indians who fished the streams, trapped and hunted deer, buffalo, elk and bear. Of course, they also enjoyed, respected and revelled in the natural beauty and scenery created thousands of years earlier and the abundant snow and sunshine that is recreated each day, season and year.
In the mid 1800s, miners discovered Summit County. Mining villages sprung up throughout central Colorado and copper was discovered in the area that now takes its name from that mineral. By 1880, Judge John S. Wheeler established a settlement at the junction between the Ten Mile and Gore mountain ranges. The old buildings can still be seen in the area near the base of Alpine Lift - or, if you're exploring in the summer months, scattered along the back nine of Copper Creek Golf Club. Wheeler recognized the potential for development (who wouldn't want to visit such a beautiful scenic and natural wonder) and promoted the area as a trout fishing and horseback riding retreat.
The Colorado settlement boomed. Miners, loggers, fur traders and prospectors, as colorful and storied as the environment itself, staked claims and called Wheeler Junction home. An energetic and wild boarding house offered amenities such as china dishes, authentic silverware and tablecloths in the midst of a rough and tumble mountain town. Dances, balls and card parties filled the nights as settlers sought their fortunes in the rich opportunities the area offered.
The Ski Resort
In 1971, Chuck Lewis, Copper's founding father, took one look at the current site of Copper and told his friends, "I'm gonna build me a killer ski resort." He negotiated a deal to purchase 280 acres at the base and worked with the Forest Service to establish parameters and guidelines for the ski area. Chuck was both a renegade and a visionary. During the summer of '71, initial construction began on the ski trails.
Over the years, new lifts were added and Copper grew to its current size of 2,465 acres. What was once a sleepy little day ski area is now one of Colorado's premier year-round destination resorts. In 1997, the resort was purchased by Intrawest - a worldwide leader in resort operations and development. Later in 2009, Powdr. Corporation purchased Copper Mountain Resort and has further developed the ski resort into what it is today.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SUMMIT COUNTY, CONSIDER JOINING THE SUMMIT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. FOR INFO, GO TO WWW.SUMMITHISTORICAL.ORG