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Ski Cooper is in the Colorado Rocky Mountins, near the historic town of Leadville. The region in the heart of the Rockies, between Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge, is legendary for its fantastic skiing.It is one of the older ski areas in Colorado, having opened in 1942 as a training site for the 10th Mountain Division Special Forces that fought in the Alps during World War II.
Now it is open to the public with 400 lift-served skiable acres and another 2,400 acres that are reachable by Snowcat.
Enjoy Ski Cooper’s wide-open groomed cruisers and then head for the backside for tree runs and glades.
The base elevation is 10,500 feet and the summit reaches 11,700 feet. The altitude, along with Ski Cooper’s location in the Colorado Rockies allows for 250 inches of snow to fall on average per year.
The rental shop opens up at 8:00 a.m. and the lifts open at 9:00 a.m. The lifts close at 4:00 p.m., after which you have a half hour to return your skis to the rental shop.
The 26 trails at Ski Cooper are rated as 30% beginner, 40% intermediate and 30% expert. The longest run is called Trails End and is 1.4 miles long.
The area hosts a number of events throughout the ski season, including telemark clinics, races, women’s ski clinics, senior days, The Cooper Cup and the Special Olympics.
Ski Cooper offers classes to beginners as well as advanced skiers. Group and private classes are available from the pool of instructors that have nearly 20 years of teaching experience.
Chicago Ridge is where the adventurous head for killer backcountry skiing. There you can go as high as 12,600 feet to the top of the Continental Divide. The runs are 3,000 to 10,000 feet long and drop 1,400 feet. Tours of Chicago Ridge and beyond are also available even for those that don’t want to ski it. The Snowcat tours to this area are offered by Ski Cooper from mid December to early April.
Other than alpine skiing, there’s also cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling here in the San Isabel National Forest. A recommended place to go is the Piney Creek Nordic Center nearby. The area offeres 25 kilometers of groomed terrain for both track and skating styles.
Leadville has a variety of options that are reasonably priced and close to fun activities like sleigh rides, shopping and museums. Many fine restaurants can also be found in town.
To get to Ski Cooper from Denver take Interstate 70 west until exit 195. Go south on Colorado Highway 91 until you reach Leadville. On the north side of Leadville take a right on Highway 24 and follow it for nine miles to the top of Freemont Pass.