Breckenridge

Colorado, USA

Breckenridge Ski Resort, a.k.a. ‘Breck’, is one of North America's top two most visited ski resorts. It is located in Summit County, Colorado – in the mountain town of Breckenridge. The resort area spands over five huge peaks and with five terrain parks, two half-pipes, and eight alpine bowls, there is great skiing for all abilities. Added to this is a hip, historic mining town, with a ton of great restaurants and bars and fun apres scene.

Scout Loves

  • Breckenridge is easy access from Denver, just under two hours from Denver International Airport.
  • The highest chairlift in North America with breathtaking views.
  • Historic downtown area that’s easy to get around with more than 65 restaurants.
  • Part of the Epic Pass, meaning you can also ski nearby resorts like Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Vail, & Beaver Creek.

Scout Tips

  • Due to its proximity to Denver, Breckenridge is crowded on weekends.
  • The layout over five peaks means a lot of time can be spent transitioning between peaks, or down their long intermediate-run ridge lines to get to the base area.
  • Accommodation options are scattered throughout the mountainside of the town as well as some options at the base of Peak 8 and Peak 7.
  • Be aware of altitude sickness, due to it's incredible elevation of 3963 metres!

Scout Review

Breckenridge is one of those resorts that many people love, and a few love to hate. But with 1.6 million skier days a year, there’s clearly enough people that love it to prove this is a great ski resort.

Breckenridge is fantastic for families, in particular those that cringe at the thought of accommodation prices at its pricier sister resorts further down the i70. There are some great value accommodation options, plenty of family restaurants and the town is laid-back and friendly. Some would say this personality comes from the local’s preference for a certain type of weed - Breckenridge was one of the first Colorado towns to legalise possession of marijuana.  But whether it’s that or the town’s cute historic main street or its location up the valley and away from the interstate, there’s definitely a relaxed and down-to-earth atmosphere.

Progress on the mountain is anything but relaxed. The resort has undergone significant improvements since it was bought by Vail Resorts in 1996, and in recent years has added extra chairlifts to expand its terrain and access some amazing high-alpine intermediate bowl skiing. 

Along with families who come for the value and family-friendly terrain, Breckenridge is also popular with freestyle skiers and boarders thanks to its world-class terrain parks and 22ft (6.7m) Superpipe. Thanks to the facilities, the resort is home to the Dew Tour which sees world-class freestyle athletes, including Shaun White, descending on the town for four days of competition every December. With its popularity with this crowd, it’s not surprising that Breck has a jumping nightlife. There are more than 30 bars, nightclubs and lounges in the downtown area.

So why do some people love to hate Breck? Some call the main base area ugly (in contrast to the quaint buildings along historic Main St, a lot of big concrete condos were built in the 1980s), many blame the abundance of intermediate terrain and the long ridgeline runs required to get to the base of key lifts. Others can’t stand the crowds and lift lines. The opening of Peak 6 is sure to alleviate both of these final factors (unfortunately the concrete buildings are there to stay) so let’s just hope some of the haters give it another look.

Breckenridge Skiing

Sitting at over 2356 acres of skiable terrain, Breckenridge has plenty of options for all skiers and snowboarders. The resort is divided into 4 peaks, each with a varying range of runs for all ability levels. For the beginners, the Peak 7 and Peak 9 have great blue and green groomed trails, a few of which feed back into the main town of Breckenridge. 

Peak 8 and 10 are popular for expert skiers and riders, with the upper peak of No.8 offering challenging alpine terrain. Most of Peak 10 is below the treeline meaning some epic black and double black trails and small but fun tree runs, and one of the least crowded parts of the resort. On a powder day, the Horseshoe and Content Bowls are the place to be for advanced skiers. There are plenty of options for those happy to take a hike, especially the Snow White Bowl and Lake Chutes, which are nice and steep, and with exceptional snow quality.

Breckenridge has one of the best terrain parks in all of North America. Multiple parks and pipe cater to all ability levels, and the Freeway Terrain Park & Pipe boasts an epic superpipe (one of the first ever built in the USA!). It's a great spot to take a few minutes and stand in awe at the local talent.

Boasting an incredible 31 lifts, the resort has a vast chairlift infrastructure, however, quite a few are a little slow so lift lines are often the case and it can be rather time-consuming trying to navigate between the 4 peaks. Saying that, Breck has the highest lift accessed terrain in North America, which means once you get to the top the snow quality is impeccable, and the resort is able to offer snow-making that covers almost 24% of the resort.

Breckenridge For Families

Breckenridge has a vast range of facilities and services, spread across many zones - the town, the gondola, and at the base of Peak 9 & 8. Plenty of variety when it comes to rentals, and even offers the Ski Butler service, which is a popular option for families so they don't have to leave their hotel room or condo to fit their ski gear.

There are great options for childcare across multiple locations, for ages from 8 weeks to 5 years, and the Breckenridge Ski School offers a decent range of lessons for ages 3 and up, and is based across 3 locations (Beaver Run, Village, & Peak 8). 

Offering over 60 restaurants, downtown Breckenridge has plenty of options for even the most picky members of the family. From relatively cheap saloon-style fare, to sports bars, breweries, and up-scale restaurants, you're sure to find a different fare every night.

For the best accommodation for families, we recommend the Village at the base of the resort. It has the convenience of being right near a chairlift plus easy access to downtown Breckenridge. Ski School and childcare facilities are also located at the base, and you can choose from a good range of lodging (condos, hotels, ski-in/ski-out). The other resort area, like Peak 9, Peak 8, and Peak 7 are super close to the slopes, bit a little further from downtown. Saying that, there are a few shuttle bus services operating both between the base areas and to downtown, so still relatively easy to get around. It's a good idea to decide what facilities you might need and use the most during your family holiday, and base your accommodation options around those to make life a little easier.

Breckenridge Accommodation

Breckenridge has stacks of condo complexes, most of them individually owned and decorated and many still feel as though they haven’t changed much since they were built in the 80s and early 90s. Most of the condos are scattered on the west and south of the main street, to be close to the mountain and lifts. Regardless of where your accommodation is situated, the free town bus can easily get you around town and to the lifts. Despite all of its laid-back attitude, there are a couple of luxury options in Breckenridge including One Ski Hill Place, Crystal Peak Lodge and Water House on Main.

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Resort Activities

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There are plenty of other activities in Breckenridge other than skiing such as Interpretive Ecology tours when you “Ski with a Forest Ranger”, snowshoeing, dinner sleigh rides to Peak 9, mine tours, snowmobiling and dog sledding, amongst others. There’s also an ice-skating rink and several day spas.

Getting There and Around

Denver International Airport  is about a two-hour drive away and has direct flights from most cities in the US. The major interstate that heads west out of Denver, the i70, can be notoriously slow in bad weather and with weekend traffic, so allow plenty of spare time if catching a flight.

Eagle County Regional Airport, just beyond Vail, is about 1 hour, 20 minutes and has direct flights from some major cities.

There are several different shuttle service options from Denver Airport with most operating on hourly schedules until late hours. Most also have private transfer options. The most well known is Colorado Mountain Express, which costs $64pp one way (kids aged under 12 are half price) for door-to-door service.

Other transfer companies with similar or cheaper rates include:

Breckenridge is easy to get around. Many of the hotels have shuttle services and the town is well serviced by a free bus service breckfreeride and there are several routes, which means a stop is never far away. A lot of hotels and condos are within walking distance to the town, which itself is easy to walk around. In fact, it’s so easy to get around that if you’re planning on skiing Breckenridge for your entire stay, you won’t need to rent a car.

When To Go

Breckenridge usually opens early November until around mid-April. February is usually a reliable month. If you can, try to avoid weekends due to day trippers from Denver crowding the mountain.

Other holiday periods that are busy are:

  • Christmas and New Year.
  • Martin Luther King long weekend, January 13-15, 2018
  • President’s Day long weekend, February 17-19, 2018.

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 9600ft / 2926m Gondolas 1 Beginner 14%  
Summit Elevation 12,998ft / 3963m High Speed Six Seater 2 Intermediates 31%  
Vertical Drop 3398ft / 1036m Express Quads 7 Advanced 19%  
Skiable Area 2901ac / 1173ha Triple Chairs 1 Expert 36%  
Annual Snowfall 366in / 9.3m Double Chairs 6      
Longest Run 3.5 miles / 5.6km Surface Lifts 5      
Snowmaking 565ac / 228ha Carpet Lifts 9      
Operating Hours 8.30am –.00pm          
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