Grab your skis for turns at Woodward and Fourth of July Bowl this Independence Day
July 3, 2015
When you're in the Rocky Mountains, snow is a constant. And with snow comes skiing.
For the majority of Independence Day revelers, snow is a long-gone memory, replaced by barbecues and campouts and lounging on the beach. But after a monster May that saw roughly 50 inches of snow, portions of the bowls at Copper and Breckenridge are still covered in an unlikely blanket of white. Sure, there are gaps here and there, but it's July after all. It had to start melting at some point.
And that's where skiing comes in. Until those final patches disappear, here's a look at two off-kilter Fourth of July activities for folks who won't let winter die. Just don't forget your skis.
Pavilion Park at Copper
An on-snow terrain park in the middle of summer? No, it's not just a luxury for the campers at Mt. Hood in Oregon. Over the past few years, Woodward at Copper — the resort's hub for freestyle skiers and riders — has opened a relatively large swath of snow made just for park rats, filled with features most skiers won't see again until November.
Dubbed Pavilion Park, the hike-accessed terrain boasts more than a dozen rails, boxes and other street-style features. Sessions run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday during the summer, as long as there's enough snow to pack on the ramps. And it's not just for Woodward summer campers — it's open to the general public throughout the day for $20 per ticket. Not a bad deal.
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To purchase tickets, swing by the Woodward Copper Cage in Copper's Center Village or head online to http://www.woodwardcopper.com.
Fourth of July Bowl at Breckenridge
How did Fourth of July Bowl earn its name? Simple enough: For decades, it's been one of the few remaining areas with enough snow in July for powder junkies to get their mid-summer fix, even without a plane ticket to the southern hemisphere.
"It's just something different to do in summer," says Pet Legrange, a Breckenridge local for the past eight years who's made the Fourth of July Bowl trek seven times. "It gets you away from the crowds, even though it's one of the craziest places to be on Fourth of July. You're out there skiing in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of summer. It's just wild."
Located high above Peak 9, Fourth of July Bowl is about a 1.5-hour hike from the top of Mercury Superchair. Most people access it by driving up the Peak 9 fire road from the base of Beaver Run Resort. Some years it's covered in snow, other years you can nearly drive past the upper lift terminal, but Legrange suggests parking as soon as the snow begins and hiking from there.
Just be ready to get wet. The route passes through several marshy, swampy wetland areas before popping out near the base of the bowl. After all, there's still snow up there — the road you walk on was likely covered in snow just a week ago.
"You hit three different environments while you're hiking up there," Legrange says. "Layers are key — it could be 70 when you park your car, and when you get to the top it could be 40 degrees."
Legrange hasn't made the trek this year and he's only been to the bowl once on its namesake date, but with enough snow, he usually gets five or six turns off the face of Peak 10. Every once in a while, usually in June, he's been able to ride all the way to the car with an occasional stop to walk around dirt patches.
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