So I took my family on our first trip out west last year and, of course, we’re completely hooked! And now I’m planning our next trip back for this coming season. Thanks to a lot of great advice from these boards, we went to Copper last year and had a great time. We’re considering going back to Copper since we’re familiar with it now but also intrigued by seeing something new. Based on several factors, I’ve narrowed it down to Steamboat or back to Copper and would love some insight on how the two compare? I’m leaning towards Steamboat but want to make sure it’s worth the extra drive from Denver and slightly higher (probably 5% or so more) total cost.
For some context, I’m an intermediate that enjoyed the blues and groomed blacks at Copper; I also ventured onto some of the easier lines of the back bowls but I was probably in a bit over my head there to be honest, even though I enjoyed it. My wife is an upper beginner that could handle easier blues but she’s not in a huge hurry to advance; she could handle easier groomed blues at Copper but enjoyed herself more on the greens. And then we have three boys (6, 4 and 4) that will be in ski school most of the time; the 6 year old was riding the lift and skiing the easiest greens by the end of the last trip while the younger ones were doing well and enjoying themselves off the magic carpet area. Thankfully, the kids are really into it and can’t wait to go back so there isn’t any hesitation there.
What we really liked about Copper was the low crowds, naturally divided terrain, plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain, and convenience to Denver. We also really liked the manageable size of the village and walkability; with young kids this is HUGE. And lastly, I felt it was a good value relative to other resorts. What we didn’t like so much about Copper is the altitude (and i know that shouldn't be an issue at Steamboat). We spent the first night in Denver and drank tons of water but still felt the effects for the first three days or so; not enough to ruin our trip but enough to impact it for sure. Also, I thought the kids ski school could have been better; it was adequate to good, but not great – some instructors were really good and some seemed like that was the last place they wanted to be and check-in/drop off was a bit disorganized. On the flip side, my older son ended up with a private lesson for the last two days since they were so uncrowded so that was a big boost.
This year, we’d be going the first week of March (2/28 - 3/7), skiing 5 of 6 days, flying into Denver and likely spending the first night and last night in Denver to break up the travel (but still staying 7 nights at the mountain). Those dates are pretty much set other than maybe shifting a day or two up or back. I’m trying to fit in between holidays and school break periods.
What’s most important to us:
- Low Crowds
- Plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain
- Great kid's ski school (I've heard/read that Steamboat's is one of the best in US - can anyone confirm this?)
- Walkable village
- Family activities off the mountain, particularly for non-ski days
So, my questions are:
- Any insight on how the two compare on our most important list above? From my research so far it sounds like we can’t go wrong either way but wondering if either stand out more than the other.
- I’ve read here that Steamboat conditions can get a little soft by March given the lower elevation, but would that likely be an issue by the first week of March? And even if it is, would that really be noticeable to us at our beginner/intermediate skill level?
- Is there enough green and lower level blues to keep my wife happy for a week - their website says only 14% beginner runs?
- I’ve read a lot about how Steamboat has great tree skiing – is some of that more on the intermediate level? I would love to try a little of that.
- We have to fly into Denver – how bad is the drive to Steamboat? Mapping programs say about three hours but is that realistic assuming no storm? Looks like a lot of 2-lane roads. I know all bets are off if there is a storm but I’m sure that would be the same for Copper.
Any and all insight is greatly appreciated!