Breckenridge ski resort was spawned from the town of the same name which was established in the early 1800's. It is situated in Summit County in the Colorado Rockies, on the 10 Mile range. The resort lifts provide access to 4 of the peaks on the range, Peaks 7, 8, 9 and 10. From the top you can peek over and see Copper mountain on the neighbouring range, or gaze across the valley to see Keystone in the distance. Spectacular!
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Breckenridge is located two hours west of Denver International Airport (DIA). Arriving from Denver, visitors will likely cross the Continental Divide by driving through the mountains. The Eisenhower/ Johnson Memorial Tunnel is part of the interstate, although one can opt to cross the Divide by US 6 (Loveland Pass) which exits I-70 at the tunnel and reconnects at Silverthorne on the west side. The town is also two and one-half hours northwest of Colorado Springs Airport. That scenic drive crosses the Ute, Wilkerson and Hoosier passes, all well maintained year-round.
- With the addition of the Imperial Chair in 2006, the top bowls of the resort are now available to the non-hiker and provide some great steep bowl skiing as well as some chutes and lots of powder when the westerlies blow.
- Down lower, three peaks provide many varieties of run, from the cruisy green of Peak 7 to the steep tree runs and moguls of Peak 10.
- As Breckenridge began life as small town which boomed in the gold rush, it has some genuine character and a real life apart from the ski industry. It has many great restaurants, whether you are after quality or quantity of food!
- With free shuttles to the nearby resorts of Keystone (and so on to A Basin) and Copper as well as the town of Frisco, it can provide all the advantages of a resort without the isolation.
- As a town, tends to have cheaper options for food and accomodation than other Colorado resorts.
- While some of the terrain is steep, there is not an incredible amount of it, and much of the best requires hiking 5- 30 mins (depending on your fitness and how you handle the affects of altitude). Also, on busy (powder!) days the wait at the Imperial Chair, T bar and Chair 6 which accesses a lot of this terrain can be long, especially when having to wait for Patrol to give clearance that the terrian is safe to open, and a line-up forms
- There is very little ski-in / ski out accomodation - day trippers and the non-rich will generally need to catch a shuttle bus or gondola to a base chair.
- The Altitude. with a base and the town about 10,000ft and the top around 13,000ft, lack of Oxygen can cause serious discomfort and will cause you to become exhausted and out of breath very quickly. Tips: Take it easy the first day or so. Drink lots of water, and eat carbohydrates (helps with Oxygen transfer). The fitter you are the less you'll notice, but don't expect to be running up stairs with grocery bags without getting out of breath!
Snow Report: (970) 453-6118
Toll Free: (800) 789-SNOW
General: (970) 453-5000
From Denver, visitors drive 98 miles (159 km) west via I-70, then take exit 203, Hwy. 9, south to Breckenridge, nine miles. From Colorado Springs, visitors drive 110 miles (178 km) west through South Park and over Hoosier Pass, or via I-25 to C-470 to I-70.
Major car rental agencies have counters at DIA, Colorado Springs and Vail/Eagle County Airport. Van shuttle companies operate from all three airports and can drop visitors off at the front door of their lodge or condominium.
A popular service from DIA is Colorado Mountain Express, which has regularly scheduled shuttles and limousine services, (970) 468-7600 or (800)334-7433; reservations are required.
All accomodation is in the town of Breckenridge at the base of the resort; see below.
- Hotels/Inns/Bed & Breakfasts: 501 Properties
- Hotels/Inns/Bed & Breakfast units/bedrooms: 499
- Number of pillows: 20,002
- Condo units: 2,745
- Condo beds: 5,000
- Hotel units/bedrooms: 436
- Hotel beds: 800
Vail Resorts manages Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Heavenly, and depending on what lift tickets you buy you may be able to use the ticket at other resorts. With free shuttles it is definitely worth inquiring when making the purchase.
Breck Ski&Ride school
There are many places in Breckenridge where you can hire all sorts of ski equipment of all standards. Simply go for a walk along Main Street or check with your accommodation - they sometimes have discounts at certain stores.
Here are just a few of the many ski rental stores found in Breckenridge.
- Alpine Sports
- Bahnhof Ski Shop Ltd
- Black Tie Ski Rentals
- Blue River Sports Ski & Snowboard Rental
- Breckenridge Sports (6 location)
- Breeze Ski Rentals
- Carvers Ski - Board & Sport
- Christy Sports
- Main Street Sports
- Norway Haus Ski Shop
- Resort Quest Ski & Sport
- Ski Country Sports
If you do not have a car it is probably easier to hire your gear closer to the lifts as most offer over night storage, saving you the hassle of lugging your skis back to your accommodation every day.
You can also book your ski or snowboard rental online which may save you some money and less time in the rental store.
The main companies in Breckenridge that offer this service are;
- Black Tie - Which also offer full delivery service to your accommodation
- Breeze Rentals
- Christy Sports
To view a comparison of the above online rentals stores rates, locations and equipment Breckenridge Ski Rentals
As Breckenridge is a real town, with neighbouring real towns, car, normal car, bus and taxi services are available. In addition, Free Summit County busses run between the major resorts as well as Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne. Yes, Free.
Day parking is available in lots in Breckenridge town proper just of Summit Boulevarde (or North Main Street as it becomes). You can take the Gondola direct from the parking area, or free shuttle busses up to the base of Peak 8 or Peak 9.
Most higher end accomodation has some parking of it's own, however if it doesn't, you will have to fight for on-street parking.
- EDIT ACTIVITY
EDIT ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION
Restaurants and bars: 80
Bars & Entertainment
There are a range of bars, mostly clusetered around Main Street or one street back on either side. The 'classier' establishments tend to be down towards South Main Street nearer the base of Peak 9.
Shops/Boutiques: 180 Liquor Stores: 5 Grocery/Convenience Stores: 5
The bottom of Peaks 8 or 9 is the starting point for beginners, with ski school and Magic Carpets to get people started. Likely hangouts include Chair 7 and it's surrounding runs on Peak 8 and Camelback at the base of 9
Breck's grooming dept. has the motto; "every green, every blue, every night", so groomed runs are always available and always in near perfect condition (weather dependent). This only becomes a problem when the snow falls and you have to race the snowcats before that flatten all the pow!
From Peak 8 base, jump on the Rocky Mtn Superchair and take a few laps of claimjumper which is nice and wide with some big rollers for interest, or dukes for something a bit steeper and some bumps to the side. Both lead back to the base ares. Once you have ridden these take one of the turn offs from claimjumper and head over to the Independence super chair for more rolling blue runs which lead back to the bottom of Indy for another lap. The Colorado chair (and to a lesser extent chair 5) also offers access to groomers, but the majority are greens or slow zones - perfect for beginners to get some distance under their skis or to accesss the Freeway Super Park or to access Four O'Clock and Skyway Skiway runs back to town. However, early morning runs down Spruce with it's large rollers and steep pitches up top is always a good way to blow out the cobwebs and wake up.
From the base of Peak 9 head for Mercury Super chair from either the Beaver Run or Quicksilver lifts. Thie better blue-blue/black groomers are accessible from this lift without the need to drop right back to the base area generally making for shorter lift lines as well as a shorter lift ride, for not a lot of lost vertical. Cashier, Columbia and Sundowner all have plenty of room to let you open it up a bit make some higher speed, wide turns, whilst the blue/blacks of Peerless and American are more challenging with their steeper pitch. Take care on Bonanza as this is a dedicated slowzone, but great for beginner-lower intermediates to get miles on.
For some real pitch, head over to the Falcon chair and Peak 10 and blast down the Doublejack, Cimarron and Centennial runs. However, note that the runs on Peak 10 are much more exposed as the have less tree cover ont he upper slopes and so, grooming or not, the upper parts of these trails can be a mix of windblown snow, groomed trail and in places as close to ice as you'll find in CO ;D
Breck has numerous areas which are ungroomed and opened at the discretion of the ski patrol. These include the terrain - Horseshoe, Cucumber and Competition Bowls, Peak 7 summit, Imperial Bowl, Lake Chutes and Snow White, The Back 9 and Windows, The Burn and Whales Tail.
As well as these obvious areas, the trees between trails often have summer bike and walking trails which are skiable in the winter.
Peak 7 probably has the best continuous pitch of all and is wide open for turns of any size. Imperial is something of a let down these days as a 3 min chair ride rather than a 45+ minute hike makes it accessible to most everyone, but if it's snowed it still provides plenty of opportunity for face shots. Whales Tail is a lot of fun with entrances varying from a traverse in to 20+ ft of air in the right spots at the right speed if you prefer. Lake Chutes and Snow white are accessed from a short 5-10min hike up from the top of the Imperial Express lift, followed by a traverse along and around the ridge line and are marked as Extreme Terrain. Don't be overly frightened of this - it's actually a due to a combination of unmarked obstacles (cliffs, rocks etc) no grooming and the steep pitch. Be smart and pick carefully - some routes are easier than others even though all marked extreme. The Back 9 can be accessed from a hike from the top of Mercury chair, but if approaching from E chair look for the gate at the top there - via this you can traverse out to the Windows without the 10 is open turns you get before hands, but also without the 20-30 min hike. The Burn on Peak 10 is exactly that - naturally gladed terrain due to the burn off of lots of trees. Especially good early season if you don't mind a scratch or two from low coverage.
One that is not mentioned and hard to find is Needles Eye - stay near the boundary on Volunteer for the gate and drop through steep, tight trees to the cat track between the bottom of E chair and the Mid-load of SuperConnect. Take a friend so you don't get lost and watch out for the creek at the bottom.
Out of Bounds
****COLORADO HAS GREAT LIGHT POWDER. HOWEVER THIS DOESN'T MAKE FOR STABLE CONDITIONS IN THE BC ON MANY DAYS!!! KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, HAVE THE TRAINING, A PARTNER, THE TOOLS AND A GUIDE****
http://avalanche.state.co.us/ - avy forecast
It is illegal to duck a boundary rope in CO. So save yourself the first point of contention and use the gates. One is located on Peak 10 - follow the boundary down the Mustang run accessed by Falcon chair. From here skin or hike back up hill and you soon find the summer road which leads up to the weather station atop peak 10. From here, drop in to Fourth of July Bowl for numerous turns on a nice pitch.
From Peak 9 Hike up the track above mercury as if going towards Windows. Approx where the trail flattens out there is a fork to the left which leads to a gate. From this you can head up to the summit of 9 or go right towards Billy's Bowl. Extra caution on Billy's - it develops a large cornice and is known to slide a couple of time during the season most season.
Peak 7 - head out to the Ore Bucket and hug the boundary to find the gate. From here head back towards Frisco and the start of the Ten Mile Range.
Base of Peak 9 - just above the Camleback Platter and slightly along Lower Lehman is the gate which you can take to head out towards Quandry peak.
Away from the ski area itself there are numerous trail heads etc which can be used to head off in to the BC. Try Summitpost or peak bagger for more info
Breck Nordic centre is about 2/3rds of the way up ski hill road - the road up to the peak 8 base area - groomed runs of varying lengths available along with some instruction. Used to be covered on the lift ticket, not sure if it still is, but worth asking
Parks & Pipes
Freeway is the biggest park and clearly visible from the peak 8 base area. Be realistic; if you can't or aren't going to use the features here, don't go in. The 'park rats' will get annoyed at you - and probably let you know quick enough - and you'll only feel disappointed with the experience.
American and Country Boy on 9 are medium - large sized and mostly are usable by those with solid skills across the rest of the mountain.
Trygves on 8 and Eldorado on 9 are the smaller beginner parks. They can be busy as everyone reckons they are capable, but capabilty and control don't always go hand in hand! Stay aware in these almost more than in the bigger parks as not everyone will know whats going on.
Most of the bumps in Breck can be found by heading to the Black diamond designated runs - an abundance can be found off of chair 6, E chair, and on the southside of Peak 10 from the Falcon Chair. Also check out Tiger and co which run under the SuperConnect (AKA chair 4)
The Back 9 Lake Chutes Peak 10 E Chair
WInter temperatures range from 15F at night to 28F during the day.
The resort of Breckenridge is spread across 4 peaks of the 10 Mile Range in Colorado. The range runs North / South, and all the slopes are all East facing side of the range.
The terrain varies in difficulty; generally Peak 7 is easiest, Lower Peak 8 and 9 are intermediate, and the top of Peak 8 and Peak 10 have more advanced runs.
Most runs are below treeline on all peaks, with the recent Imperial Chair providing lifted access to the top of the ridge at Peak 8, and from there easy access to the double black bowls and runs.
Long before white settlers from the east crossed the Continental Divide, Breckenridge was part of the summer hunting grounds of the nomadic White River and Middle Park Ute Native Americans. The Town of Breckenridge was born out of America's mid-nineteenth century rush to settle the West during Pike's Peak Gold Rush. General George E. Spencer was one of hundreds of "town builders" who trekked across the West, fathering boom and bust communities. Intent upon locating in the Blue River Valley near Fort Mary B, General Spencer reportedly seized Felix Poznansky's town site of Independent. He accomplished this by offering all the members of Independent, except Poznansky, twelve choice lots for the rights to the town site.
The General proved to be a shrewd town boomer. He formally created the Town of “Breckinridge” in November 1859 and named it after President James Buchanan's Vice President, John Cabell Breckinridge (1857-1861). By flattering the United States Government, Spencer hoped to gain a post office. He succeeded and the post office in Breckenridge became the first post office between the Continental Divide and Salt Lake City, Utah. At the outbreak of the Civil War Spencer may have regretted that he had not named the new settlement for himself. Breckinridge's sympathies were clearly with the South. He received a commission as a Confederate Brigadier General and the U.S. Senate expelled Breckinridge for treason. The embarrassed little town of Breckinridge quickly and quietly changed the spelling of its name to "Breckenridge," changing an "i" to an "e".
An ambitious grid was eventually platted for the 320-acre Breckenridge town site. Main Street was laid out parallel to the Blue River. Residences developed along Main Street, to the north, south, and east of the commercial core. On the west side of the Blue River, in "West Breckenridge," industry, inexpensive housing, and a red light district were established. By June 1860, a row of log cabins, tents, and shanties lined Main Street.
By mid-1861, Breckenridge boasted several stores, hotels, saloons, and a post office. On October 11, 1861, the Town secured the Denver, Bradford, and Blue River Road Wagon Company connection, which gave lifeblood to the little gold mining community. Breckenridge's Main Street allowed for ease in turning around freight wagons and became the center of social and athletic activities. During the mining heyday, Breckenridge provided the miners with a variety of attractions. Without diversions, life in the mining camp would have been an endless cycle of routine work.
Breckenridge was established as the permanent county seat of Summit County, Colorado, but by the mid-1860s, the Civil War and increasing difficulty in locating free, accessible gold led to a drop in the Breckenridge population. Many businessmen and merchants moved on to other boomtowns. Although specific population figures for this period are not available, the community's population is believed to have been less than 500 in 1866.
The late-1860s saw the introduction of large-scale hydraulic placer mining to the area and Breckenridge was once again engrossed in another mining phase. Hydraulic mining occurred in Lomax, Iowa, Georgia, and other gulches. Hydraulic mining also brought about another change in the character of the local mining industry. Individual miners and mining companies consolidated their holdings. The days of the lone prospector were gone. In 1879 Breckenridge found itself an important hard-rock mining location and prominent supply center. The discovery of rich silver and lead carbonates in the hillsides nearby put the Breckenridge mining district on the map and the second wave of fortune hunters invaded. Breckenridge had plenty of "elbow room" to grow and the community was formally incorporated in 1880. Soon more substantial architecture appeared. Comfortable houses, churches, and a school were built on the hillside east of Main Street. Saloons and other false-fronted commercial ventures were confined to the main streets. Main Street became the business thoroughfare and in 1880 eighteen saloons and three dance halls lined the street. Ridge Street, parallel to Main, had a grocery store, hotel, post office, dry goods store, bank, assay office, and a drug store.
By 1882, Breckenridge secured a depot site for the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad and thereby brought rail service to Town. Breckenridge doomed a half dozen other rival company towns in the process, including Swan City, Preston, and Lincoln City. The population of Breckenridge peaked at approximately 2000. By 1882, Breckenridge added three newspapers and a cemetery. The Town also managed to organize three fire companies to protect the vulnerable wooden structures. A major fire in 1884 destroyed a number of buildings along Main Street and Ridge Street. Despite the fire danger, local carpenters continued to build with wood because of the availability of materials and the reduced time, effort, and cost of construction. As a result, few masonry buildings ever appeared in Breckenridge.
Breckenridge was home to one of the most famous evangelists in Colorado history -Reverend John Lewis Dyer. The Methodist minister, known as the “Snowshoe Itinerant,” walked and skied his way through the mountains, taking the gospel to those who might not otherwise hear it. Carrying heavy canvas sacks of mail over the snow-packed mountain passes; Father Dyer earned enough money to continue his missionary work in Breckenridge. In 1880, he built Breckenridge's first church, now located on Wellington Road. While Father Dyer was trying to save souls, famed desperado Pug Ryan was doing his best to deliver souls to their Maker. In 1898, Pug robbed a midnight poker game at the posh Denver Hotel on Main Street. An accidental discharge from a sawed-off shotgun announced Pug's arrival. None the less, he got away with $50 in cash from the bar till, as well as fine watches and jewelry from the gamesters. Pug died for his digressions at the state penitentiary in Canon City in 1931.
World War II Ends the Mining Era
The population of Breckenridge dropped to fewer than 1,000 people by the turn of the century. Despite a successful gold-dredging boom from 1898 to 1942, the population continued to drop throughout the first half of the twentieth century. More and more buildings were abandoned. Thinking the Tiger Placers Company would provide jobs in an era of national depression, Breckenridge town officials allowed the Tiger #1 Gold Dredge to chew its way from the northern town limits through the south end of Main Street. The two-story, pontoon boat supported an armature that carried a line of moving buckets that dug up placer mining ground to depths of 48 feet in the riverbed. The dredge removed all vegetation and buildings in its path. The riverbed was literally turned upside-down. Fine soils of the river bottom were either sent to the depths below or sent downstream as sediment. The riverbed and bedrock below were dredged up to the surface. As a result, few historic buildings survived on the west side of the river. World War II finally silenced the dredge and the population declined to approximately 254 individuals.
Many of Breckenridge's historic buildings were lost during the "post-war" period for a variety of reasons. Some property owners demolished their structures to reduce their tax burden. Other buildings were lost to accidental fires, while others were purposely burned in practice exercises of volunteer fire crews. Some buildings were even torn down for firewood. Breckenridge, however, never achieved ghost town status. Instead, it maintained itself as a small town until the advent of the ski industry. The closest it came to a ghost town was in 1930, when it was decided that Breckenridge had been excluded from maps of the United States. The Breckenridge Women's Club was in session one day in 1936 when they found a strip of land 90-miles long and 30-miles wide had been left out of the United States. Breckenridge was included in this area with points north to Grand County. So, on August 8, 1936, the Governor and an impressive entourage gathered on the courthouse lawn, where a flag of the United States was raised. Today, for one weekend in August, Breckenridge declares itself free and sovereign with the heritage festival, once known as “No Man's Land.”
White Gold and the Eisenhower Tunnel
In December 1961, Rounds and Porter, a Wichita, Kansas, lumber company, opened the Breckenridge Ski Area and a new-boom era began. Transportation improvements fueled the Breckenridge recreation "rush." The Eisenhower Tunnel, on Interstate 70, was completed in 1973 reducing the drive time from Denver to Breckenridge to an hour and a half. As a result of the relatively easy access from the Front Range and Denver, the recreational activities in the high country including bicycling, hiking, golfing, fishing, snowshoeing, and skiing, has increased in popularity. Record numbers of skiers and visitors now visit the Town of Breckenridge and record numbers of vehicles now pass through the Eisenhower tunnel. During the 2001-2002 ski season a record 4,400 vehicles passed through the tunnel in a one-hour period and the 24-hour winter record was set on December 29, 2001 when 44,000 vehicles passed through the tunnel. High visitor numbers are not limited only to the ski season. The ten highest weekend vehicle counts at the Eisenhower tunnel have all occurred in July and August. The current weekend record was set in August of 2001 when 140,367 vehicles passed through the tunnel. The single busiest day on record is August 5, 2001 when 50,113 vehicles passed through the tunnel in a 24-hour period. Overall, the tunnel traffic increases about 3.5% per year. The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration are studying this Interstate 70 corridor as well as State Highway 9 that connects Breckenridge to the Interstate. Information about these studies can be found on the CDOT web site at www.dot.state.co.us.
End of the Millennium and Planning for the Future
The Breckenridge permanent resident population grew from 393 in 1960 to 3,126 at the end of 2002. The "peak" population, which includes residents, second-home owners, skiers, and day visitors also increased significantly from 11,600 in 1984 to approximately 33,291 during the 2002-03 ski season. The number of Breckenridge housing units has increased from only 325 units in 1970 to approximately 6,351 units by the end of 2002.
Commercial construction has also been strong. In the ten years between 1983 and 1993, the Town's commercial square footage more than doubled, from approximately 500,000 square feet to over 1,104,000 square feet. It has continued to increase steadily, and currently there is over 1,409,971 square feet of commercial development that includes retail, office, government, recreation, light industry, and manufacturing, etc.
The 1983 Breckenridge Master Plan provides the general guidance for the growth of the Town to balance new development and community character. In 1997 the Town coordinated with Summit County and the Town of Blue River to adopt an intergovernmental plan for the Upper Blue Basin. The Joint Upper Blue Basin Master Plan establishes goals and strategies for development in the Upper Blue Basin. The Town continues to implement the strategies outlined in that plan to insure the appropriate quantity and pattern of development. In August of 2002, the Town adopted the Breckenridge Vision Plan, which outlines specific action steps that reflect the community's values and vision. These documents are all available on the Town's web site at townofbreckenridge.com.
The Town utilizes design guidelines to preserve the character of the historic district and a unique flexible zoning system that is based on performance standards. The Town has also adopted a Transfer of Development Rights Program as a way to direct new development into the core and to preserve the back country which provides diverse wildlife habitat, unspoiled ridgeline and mountain vistas, forested hillsides, opportunities for solitude and outdoor recreation, and a scenic back drop.
Breckenridge still serves as the county seat and is a center of activity for Summit County. The stunning landscape, cultural heritage, authentic mining vernacular, and Victorian atmosphere have created a thriving community and premier year-round family resort, which attracts both national and international visitors. With world-class skiing, a continuous series of summer-time events, and over 600 restaurants, galleries, and services Breckenridge looks forward to continued economic viability while preserving its unique history and character.