Copper Mountain Summer Vacation
"We've got to escape this 100 degree July heat in Texas!" and when the opportunity came up to bid on an auction item which was a 6 bedroom huge house that sleeps 24 in Copper Mountain Colorado, we jumped on it. We rounded up some friends and left the hundred degree weather in Austin for a 5 day vacation in Copper Mountain. It was 82 degrees with clear blue skies and fresh, clean, mountain air when we arrived! I was sure I had left hell and ended up in heaven!
We had a blast on our summer vacation at Copper Mountain and here are the top five reasons why we can highly recommend Copper for a family summer vacation:
- there are lots of activities for kids and adults to do ranging from an alpine coaster to golf, hiking, biking, fishing, and lots more
- the Copper Mountain Village is home to some excellent lodging options, good restaurants, and fun bars
- the weather during the summer is usually perfect for outdoor activities
- the scenery is beautiful, and
- within an hour there are lots of exciting adventures awaiting like ATV tours, biking or hiking or white water rafting or just exploring some of the areas history
Every time we come to the Colorado Summit area, I swear I will never drive it again but but we did for this trip - 16 hours and two overnight stops. We picked up two of our grand kids in Dallas and made our first stop at the thriving city of Vernon, Texas (population 11,001) where we made a huge mistake and picked a lower priced motel - Super 8 which we'll make sure we avoid on any future stops, although there aren't a lot of choices in Vernon! After that stay, we tried to cancel our Super 8 in Trinidad, Colorado but they wouldn't give us a refund if we cancelled. The Trinidad Super 8 was a half a step up from the Vernon Super 8. After exploring a Lake Trinidad State Park, downing a couple margaritas and some pretty good Mexican food, we were all asleep by 10:30 and anxious to finish the final lap to Copper Mountain.
First stop when we arrived was Ten Mile Tavern in the Copper Mountain Village at the bottom of the ski slope. There we linked up with my daughter and her family plus two other families - a total of 8 adults and 10 kids from 7 to 16! The sun was out, the breeze was light, the drinks were cold, and the lunch was pretty good. Better yet, it was 82 and clear and we were sitting on the patio overlooking a small park with live music (part of the two day Copper Mountain Music Festival) with the towering mountains and some of the Copper Mountain ski slope runs as a back drop. Now you know why I said I was sure I was in heaven!
The Village of Copper Mountain is really cool - quaint shops, unique restaurants and bars (all with outside patios), lots of lodging, and plenty of activities. While we sat on the patio, the kids
- did flips on the bungee jump
- walked up the mountain to slide down some big patches of snow
- shot a volleyball into some barrels
- played a round of miniature golf
- enjoyed a competitive game of bean bag toss and shuffleboard - I think they were also in heaven
The adults listened to some excellent music, ate, drank, played some dominos and other games, and kept feeding the kids some money for candy and food and some of the activities within sight of where we were sitting. What a great way to start a vacation!
When we finally got to the house that we were renting all of our jaws dropped and there were lots of "wows" as we explored this magnificent palace. Six bedrooms (all of which were like master bedrooms) each with it's own bathroom, a large living area with a fireplace and ceiling to floor windows overlooking a chair lift and ski run and the mountains, a game room with a pool table and a table top chess board, one room with 3 double bunk beds each with it's own TV (perfect for the kids), a movie theater room with comfy reclining chairs, a huge well appointed kitchen, and lots more. Very upscale and comfortable. And the best part is the kids had their own space downstairs and we only saw them when it was time to go on an adventure or eat a meal or as they passed through on their way to the hot tub - and they all got along and had a blast playing pool, board games, and video games.
Whenever we go on vacation after doing a lot of research we always build a grid and fill it with morning, afternoon, and evening activities and typically our eat in or dine out meals. That way we never sit around in the morning saying "what are we going to do today?" which wastes most of the day!
After breakfast the Sunday grid said "go rent bikes in the Village Square, bike to Frisco for lunch and drinks, and after that is was bikers choice - bike back uphill, put the bikes on a city bus, or stay and drink (which was my choice) and let one of the other riders come back with a car to get me. We rented bikes in the Copper Mountain Village and headed toward the Copper to Frisco Trail. The Copper to Frisco Trail is a 6.1 mile paved trail that descends from an elevation of 9711' to 9117'. The trail follows Ten Mile Creek all the way down to Frisco as it twists and turns through the trees, along steep mountain sides, past meadow, ponds, and small lakes.
Beautiful scenery and equally good is that you don't have to pedal - it's downhill all the way! Different story on the way back - it can be be a tough high altitude hard peddle back to Copper Mountain. After lunch and a couple drinks at The Island Grill over looking Lake Dillon in Frisco, the older kids, three wives, and two dads decided to pedal back up hill to get the cars - I volunteered to stay and drink and watch the three youngest kids.
I think I had a better time, all the adults were red faced, chugging water, and stretched out on the couches when I returned. The kids parked their bikes and went fishing - showing no signs of fatigue!. Shortly after getting back and catching their breath the tired adults joined me in the hot tub with a drink to watch the sun set!
Our Monday grid activity was rafting the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon. Amazing - all 18 of us were out the door smelling like sun tan lotion at 8:45 for an hour drive to link up with Timberline Tours for several hours on the river. What a fun day - we had four rafts each with a super guide and we all enjoyed the:
- Class III rapids with names like "pinball" and "widow maker"
- the breathtaking scenery
- splashing the other rafts
- taking a short dip in the cool water between rapids
- the laughs and giggles and
- a great lunch overlooking the river
Before heading home we had to stop in Leadville at the Leadville Silver Dollar Saloon which has been around since the late 1800s (Doc Holiday was there shortly after the fight at the O. K. Corral) for drinks and appetizers and to reminisce about how much fun we had and how great our four raft guides were. Read our article on white water rafting with Timberline Tours.
Tuesday was ATV day. We got to sleep in until 10:30 and then drove to Leadville for a good lunch which was followed by a short drive to Nova Guides. We were efficiently fitted with goggles and helmets which made us look like space invaders! We got a quick lesson on how to drive a 900 CC four seater RZR, got some ideas on what trails to take, decided who would ride with who, and set off in a big cloud of dust for two hours of fun! Loved it - read more about our RZR Ride with Nova Guides.
Wednesday's grid said head to Breckenridge to give the Breck Epic Adventure a try but we decided against that because there were lots of other activities at Copper Mountain that we hadn't tried yet. Copper has a great deal - spend $30 at any Copper Mountain restaurant or bar and you get a free Weekday Warrior Pass which gives you access to all of the activities for one day. I think we ate and drank enough to buy 100 passes or more! The adults tried several of the activities then headed to the bar and restaurant to earn more tickets! While we ate and drink the kids moved from activity to activity - by the end of the day the adults were pooped and ready for some games at the house and then bed. Check out this Copper Mountain Activities Page to learn more about all of the fun things to do at Copper Mountain.
On Thursday it was time to leave - two families were linking up with friends in Steamboat for a couple days, one couple was flying home, and my wife and I with the two Dallas grand kids were driving back! But before we left, we played 18 holes of golf at Copper Creek:
- a fantastic layout with some unique holes that are now home to several of my golf balls
- two very different nines - one with lots of water as it plays in valley and the other with significant elevation changes as it goes up and down the mountain
- some beautiful scenery
- plus several scary moments as I was sure the grand kids would run the cart in the lake, watch the cart roll downhill because they forgot to set the brake, run into the back of our other cart, or stop so suddenly my head would hit the windshield
Normally, I'm happy to see the round end because my back hurts, my orifices and shoes and pockets are full of sand from the bunkers, I had lost all my golf balls, or because my wife was playing much better than I was. But in this case, I was happy to see the round end and get out of the cart with my life and do damage to the cart! Read our review of Copper Creek Golf Club to learn more about this great course.
The long drive home (stop and go traffic from Copper Mountain to Colorado Springs) was boring (no question, I'm flying next time!), hot as "Haiti" as soon as we crossed the border into Texas (102 and humid), and depressing because we were ending a fun vacation in Copper Mountain.