Getting Wrecked at Copper Mountain

And I mean “wrecked” in a really good way. When the kids go back to school, our July 4 weekend will be the trip they write about in that obligatory “What I Did this Summer” essay.


In front of us, grey pads the size of lunch trays were suspended along four lines of wobbly straps. The seemed to be vibrating slightly. The obstacle was called the “Lily Pads,” and the idea was to hop from one pad to the next, like the frogs in that 1980s Frogger game. I’d seen kid after kid (and a few adults) step on a pad, teeter wildly and fall to the safety net several feet below.

The Lily Pad obstacle comprised a series of really wiggly grey pads.

My kids and I were running the gauntlet in the new Woodard WreckTangle at Copper Mountain, a Ninja Warrior­-inspired obstacle course. “Just keep moving,” was the advice from the guy working the station, one of 10 in the WreckTangle. I stepped quickly from one pad to the next, crossing the obstacle with ease. I decided to ask for advice at every station. I had much less success swinging from the Tarzan rope onto the cargo net. And climbing the 12-foot Warped Wall? Forget it.

In the Rotating Platters, the giant yellow disks spin in opposite directions. Bonus points if you can make it across while wearing leopard-print ballet flats.

Ski resort towns used to be sleepy outposts during summertime. Pretty much ghost towns. But these days, most have reinvented themselves with robust offerings during the summer months. We spent the weekend with the kids at Copper over the July 4th weekend and there was so much to do. We are still recovering.

Copper calls this challenge in the WreckTangle “Cheese Slices.” I called it the Cheese Grater.

Getting Totally Wrecked

The WreckTangle was for sure the highlight of the base-area attractions. It is, indeed a rectangular structure, 100 feet by 50 feet. The WreckTangle kicks off with Copper’s version of the American Ninja Warrior’s iconic Quintuple Steps. It’s a series of slanted alternating platforms. To cross them, you have to bound from side to side.

On the rope swing to cargo net, the kids always stuck the landing like spiders. I did not.

Next, channel your inner Tarzan on the rope swing to cargo net. In the Rotating Platters obstacle, you run across three circular platforms the size of kitchen tables spinning in opposite directions. Right.

In the WreckTangle’s Hanging Rings, it’s hard to look graceful when you’re a big fella.

There were a series of hanging rings followed by the Lily Pads. The Cheese Slices obstacle featured giant yellow swinging planks with Swiss-cheese-like holes in them. There was also a balance beam with swinging, rotating punching bags (timing was everything) and a pair of A-frame padded ramps called Woodward Mountains that you bounded up and over with the aid of trampolines.

The course ended with a 25-foot zipline and the 12-foot steeply pitched Quarter Pipe (“Warped Wall” in Ninja Warrior speak).

The WreckTangle’s zipline is the easiest and and most fun challenge.

My older son, who is wiry, was able to run up the wall and climb to the platform, while my younger son could reach the top but not pull himself up. He must have tried it 30 times. We’ll have to go back another day to get it done. The kids can’t wait to go back.

Mountain Biking: It’s all Downhill from Here

We started out the weekend with a downhill mountain bike ride. We had tickets for a bike haul up the American Eagle lift, so all we had to do was navigate downhill. The single-track trails were marked blue, and it was plenty of challenge for me.

We got warmed up on the pump track at the top of the Eagle lift.

The hairpins were bermed, making it easier to negotiate the tight turns. The trail was filled with rollers and occasionally we’d encounter a manmade obstacle in the woods, like elevated boardwalks, wood-planked bridges that led to boulders, and skinny A-frame wooden ramps. The boys loved the obstacles (I volunteered to take video on the more difficult features).

The downhill mountain biking at Copper is filled with elevated boardwalks and other fun features.

My 11-year-old daughter was a little unnerved by the single track of Elk Alley, so we took it slowly and bailed out onto the fire road for some sections. We had unwisely started our ride on a series of giant downhill rollers near the top, which she took at high speed. “I was too scared to brake,” she said later. We also poked around in the pump track, where you can tune up your skills on a series of rollers and serpentine berms.

In summer, “blue square” means singletrack.

From Bumper Boats to Bungee Jumping

The following day—after competing in the Family Adventure Quest competition (which is a whole different story)—we spent the afternoon playing mini golf, ziplining across Copper’s lake, bungee jumping, and Go-Karting (where I discovered my husband is a ruthless competitor).

Ziplining over the lake at Copper Mountain is super-fast fun. Flip-flops are not the shoe of choice. Man, was I clenching my toes.

Next we floated around on the lake in bumper boats armed with automated squirt guns. We took a spin on the Hydrobikes, but they were no match for the motorized, armed bumper boats.

Hydrobikes on the lake at Copper.

We loved the climbing wall, which doesn’t have the typical shaped grips you see on most indoor climbing walls, just realistic cracks and hand holds in the rock for grabbing onto. I also liked that our belayer offered advice from below. Clearly he knew the routes.

If not for the condos in the background, you could mistake this for the real thing.

Copper also has its Woodward Terrain Park open in the summer, so we passed skiers and snowboarders in boots, helmets, and goggles, while we tooled around the village in our bike shorts.  The terrain park is set up just above the WreckTangle, so you can watch riders negotiating rails and tabletops and rollers under the summer sun.

Oversized Fun

We wound down the day by playing lawn games in Center Village’s Après Alley—giant Jenga, giant Connect Four, oversize corn hole with stuffed animals instead of bean bags, table shuffleboard and ladder toss.

In Apres Alley, we played giant board games like Connect Four.

The boys played table shuffleboard, one of the “lawn games” in Copper Village.

After dinner in our condo in Copper One (which was awesomely located right in the middle of the action), we roasted marshmallows over a giant metal fire ball, made s’mores, and watched fireworks over the lake.

Roasting marshmallows over a giant metal flame-filled ball takes a little getting used to.

The next morning, we did it all over again—the mountain biking, the WreckTangle, the ziplining, the Go-Karting, the climbing wall… Did I mention we were exhausted?

But it was the best kind of tired.

Nuts & Bolts

For more info: Copper Mountain

Woodward WreckTangle at Copper Mountain

Prices: 2 times through, $13; day pass, $39
Details: At different times during the day, the WreckTangle operates in different modes. Time Trial Mode allows one participant on the course at a time in order to clock a time. During Practice Mode, only 10 participants are in the course at a time, allowing for one person per feature. And in the Session Mode, up to 25 ninjas are allowed in the course at a time, which means you can run the course with family and friends.

Summer Day Pass

Price: $59
Details: Includes 1 Go Kart, 1 Zipline, 2 WreckTangles, 3 bungee rides and unlimited mini golf, lake activities, scenic chair rides and bike haul, snow play zone and climbing wall.

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