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Tucked at the top of Copper Mountain’s American Eagle lift, the new-this-season Aerie isn’t just another warming hut or overcrowded ski lodge. With bird’s-eye views of the surrounding Gore and Tenmile Ranges and an elevated dining scene befitting its position at 11,200 feet above sea level, the two-story, 25,000-square-foot space is an experience worth flocking to.
“There was a lot of thought that went into the architecture and style,” says Copper’s senior communications manager Loryn Roberson of the lodge, which is one facet of the ski resort’s $100 million, multi-year makeover. “It does have that little bit of heightened experience that just feels extra special, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure that everyone feels like they can go in there, even if they’re in their ski boots and ski clothes.”
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Aerie isn’t just accessible to skiers and riders, however. Since the lift unloads directly onto the lodge’s second-floor deck, non-downhillers in your crew can join for a bite or drink, too. “A lot of the reason people come to Copper is to ski and ride,” Roberson adds, “but not everybody. Aerie provides an opportunity for people who don’t ski and snowboard to truly enjoy the mountain environment.”
Ready to see what Copper’s preening is all about? Here are five things to do, see, and eat when you visit Aerie.
Request a window seat.
Enjoy a meal with a side of scenery when you post up at Aerie’s full-service, fine-dining hub Forage and Feast. Creamy earth tones dominate the color palette from the taupe club chairs surrounding each oak table to the sage-colored, beaded drinking glasses and leather-bound menus. The decor oozes a subtle elegance that allows Buffalo Mountain and its fellow peaks—visible through 12-foot windows—to take center stage.
Still, the food deserves an Oscar for its supporting role. Guests looking for lighter fare will like the grilled broccoli and cauliflower Caesar (the dressing features real anchovy) or a bowl of the beef brisket chili rojo. For something heartier, opt for the venison leg steak or potato-wrapped salmon—both feature ingredients sourced throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Either way, you’ll want to start with a plate of truffle parmesan house fries for the table as you pick out the “S,” “K,” and “Y” of the couloirs across the valley.
Warm up by a fireplace.
With three different hearths housed within the sleek new lodge, the question isn’t whether to snuggle in next to some dancing flames, but which to choose. The steel-encased gas fireplace in the center of Forage and Feast is a great choice, as is the chiminea-style, circular fireplace in the Forage and Feast Bar—and both come with second-story views. But if the sun is shining and the temps are chilly (not nippy), then the ample gas fireplace on the upstairs patio is just the place to be. Let sweaty gloves and gaiters dry out on the mantle while you post up with a vodka, amaro, aperol, and ginger beer–loaded Full Send and watch as people do the same down the Hallelujah and Ptarmigan runs.
Slurp some ramen or tuck into a stone-fired pizza.
Where traditional ski lodges serve up slop reminiscent of an elementary school cafeteria (bowl of runny mac and cheese with a side of flaccid fries, anyone?), Aerie Food Hall offers everyday fare, just elevated. Five different stations feature a rotating menu of global and American cuisine, including pork and veggie ramen made on-site, Mediterranean and meat lovers ’za cooked before your eyes in the stone-fired pizza oven, jalapeño elk brats, plant-based wraps, and more.
Belly up to a bar.
Aerie’s trifecta of bars mean there’s something sip-worthy for everyone. If the cockles of your heart are warm but your hands are not, wrap them around a mug of spiced rum Harvest Punch from the Forage and Feast Bar. Downstairs, Aerie Bar has local brews like Odell’s 90 Shilling and Telluride Brewing Company’s Face Down Brown on tap.
If you need an upper to ensure good form on your way down, order a cappuccino or white mocha latte (both made with Ozo Coffee, roasted locally in Boulder) from Camp Hale Coffee. Pair your java with a flakey fruit Danish or seed-and-nut butter power bar, baked fresh each morning by the on-site pastry chef.
Arrive after hours.
Plan ahead for a night out on the…slopes. Reservations are still open for Aerie’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Snag a spot, and you’ll spend the last hours of 2023 riding up the American Eagle lift, sampling hand-passed starters like baked brie and charcuterie, dining on grilled tomahawk steak and baked oysters, and then toasting the (East Coast) New Year with a glass of champagne and fireworks display. Dine and ski events—which include a lift ride up, dinner at Forage and Feast, and after-hours shredding—will take place throughout the ski season.