Breckenridge

Breckenridge, Colorado

Written by John “Fritzski” Fritz • Photos by Greg and Heather Burke • Last updated Oct 20, 2017

A mecca for big mountain shredders and trick stomping freestylers, Breckenridge is all about the new school! When it comes to high alpine terrain, no-fall zone chutes, and wide open bowls, it tops every other ski area in Summit County.

Welcome to the most popular ski resort in the US

Nowhere else in North America gets you higher on a lift, with the resort’s crowning glory Imperial Express Super Chair whisking skiers and boarders up to 12,840 feet. From this height you can spot the peaks of a whole bunch of Colorado’s magnificent fourteeners! Throw into the mix insane terrain parks expertly designed to cater for everyone, from first-time jumpers to seasoned pros, and you have the essential ingredients for a progressive skier’s and snowboarder’s dream mountain. All this and much more makes Breck America’s most popular ski resort - more skiers and boarders hit the slopes here than anywhere else in the country during the 2016/2017 season.

On top of the world off the highest chairlift in North America!
There's no sense of scale... until you realize there is a skier in the picture! (Serenity Bowls at the top of Peak 6)

Now, as good as Breckenridge undoubtedly is, it’s not without its shortcomings. The resort’s high altitude has a nasty side effect, coming in the debilitating form of altitude sickness. Eager skiers and snowboarders leaving Denver first thing and then straight on the lifts to Peak 8 are the most likely victims, but even at base elevation you can start feeling woozy. Being so high up on the mountain also means it’s cold too, and some of the top lifts stay closed for days on end when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Compared to other Colorado resorts, Breck simply doesn't have the glitz and glamor of Aspen or the mammoth terrain of Vail, but on the upside, lodging is slightly more affordable. The vibe in town is easy-going and unpretentious, perhaps that’s why it was the first resort in Colorado to allow snowboarders on the slopes!

The first ski trails were cut here in 1961, but Breckenridge was a bustling town way before any skiers arrived, thanks to swarms of prospectors seeking fortune in the gold rush of 1859. The place still retains its old world western charm, but now it’s the powder on the peaks above that are its most precious resource. 300 inches of the white stuff falls here on average each year, keeping the 187 trails spread over 2,908 acres of ski terrain topped up nicely. The locals know how good they've got it, and each year they hold Ullr Fest, a raucous celebration that pays homage to the Nordic god of winter! Even the annual International Snow Sculpture Championships take place here, transforming the town into an exhibit of icy art. As for après-ski, you really can't go wrong in Breck, it’s the home of the world’s highest distillery!

International Snow Sculpture Championships on display!
Lots to see and do!

The Mountain

Cruising down Peak 6

Nestled within the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado’s Ten Mile Range, the town of Breckenridge enjoys an unusually high base elevation of 9,600 feet, and above it tower five main peaks, the largest being Peak 10, maxing out at 13,639 feet. That’s way out of bounds of the Breckenridge Ski Resort, but to reach the dizzying heights of Peak 8 at 12,998 feet it’s just a short hike from the top of the Imperial Express Super Chair. From there you’ve got 3,398 feet of vertical rise stacked up in front of you! Each of the peaks have their own distinctive character and you could even say they’re separate ski areas in their own right. So, let’s start from the top!

Skiers contemplating their next move – ski down or trek up?
We’re going to leg it!

Below Peak 10 is nothing but blacks, many of which are double diamonds, so needless to say this is expert only territory.

On the Falcon SuperChair overlooking Peak 10 area

Next door at Peak 9 you have the best area for beginners in Breckenridge, a mountainside jam-packed full of blues and greens, wide gentle slopes that still enjoy great snow thanks to their high position on the mountain.

The centerpiece of Breck is unquestionably Peak 8, offering an amazing variety of terrain, from award-winning terrain parks and perfect highway groomers to sketchy cornices and powder-filled bowls. This is where the most fun is to be had, with something for every ability of skier and snowboarder to get excited about. It’s also where the resort’s longest trail is, the Four O’Clock blue that runs for a leg-aching 3.5 miles.

Hiked up to the top of Peak 8 to go down the Lake Chutes!

Moving swiftly on, Peak 7 is all about the intermediates, with practically nothing but rolling blues that cut between the trees, it’s corduroy all the way here! Last, but by no means least, there’s Peak 6, where the only blue runs above the tree line can be found. For the more audacious among you it’s also home to some intense off-piste steeps accessible after just a short hike.

Just conquered Respite on Peak 6

When to Go

Thanks to its spot high up in the mountains, the ski season in Breck usually lasts for around five months, from mid-November to mid-April. Slopes can be a bit patchy at the start and end of winter, but an extensive snow cannon network keeps the lower trails white for as long as temperatures stay below zero! As far as proper snowfall goes, it really starts cranking from January, tailing off by the end of March. Events like Ullr Fest and the International Snow Sculpture Championships are held in January, making that month an awesome time to visit. If there was ever a time not to visit Breckenridge, it’s the Christmas and New Year holidays, Martin Luther King Day, and Presidents’ Day. Crowds peak during these times, leading to monstrous lift queues and a spike in accommodation prices.

Getting Tickets

Single-day tickets are not the way to go at Breckenridge; the walk-up price is as high as $160. Fortunately, Breckenridge offers a variety of passes that can save you money over a multi-day visit, especially if you buy in advance.

The best bargain is the Summit Value Pass, which gives unlimited access to Breckenridge as well as nearby Keystone and Arapahoe Basin for $529 adult, $429 teen, and $299 children age 5-12. You only need to ski at least 4 days for this pass to start saving you money.

The next best deal is the Epic 7-Day pass at $639 for adults and $339 for children (there’s no separate ‘teen’ category for the 7-Day pass). In those seven days - which don’t have to be consecutive - you can also visit Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood in California; Park City, Utah; Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia; and Stowe, Vermont. SnowPak also often have great deals going to Breck and the surrounding resorts.

Elevation

Base
9600 feet
Base
Summit
12997 feet
Summit
Vertical Drop
3397 feet
Vertical Drop

Lifts

Gondola & Tram
1
Gondola & Tram
High Speed Sixes
5
High Speed Sixes
High Speed Quads
6
High Speed Quads
Quad Chair
1
Quad Chair
Triple Chair
1
Triple Chair
Double Chairs
6
Double Chairs
Surface Lifts
15
Surface Lifts

Terrain

Beginner Runs
11 %
Beginner Runs
Intermediate Runs
31 %
Intermediate Runs
Advanced Runs
24 %
Advanced Runs
Expert Runs
34 %
Expert Runs
Total Runs
187
Total Runs
Terrain Parks
4
Terrain Parks
Longest Run
3 miles
Longest Run
Skiable Terrain
2908 acres
Skiable Terrain
Snowmaking Area
600 acres
Snowmaking Area

Opening and closing dates

Season Open Date Close Date
2017/2018 11/16/2017 (estimated) 04/22/2018 (estimated)
2016/2017 11/19/2016 04/23/2017
2015/2016 11/13/2015 04/24/2016
2014/2015 11/14/2014 04/19/2015

Lift ticket and season pass prices

Category Age restrictions Price (USD unless otherwise stated)
Adult 13 - 64 $151
Child 5 - 12 $98
Senior 65 & over $141
Season Pass
(Epic Local Pass)
$679

Overall Rating

4.5 / 5 based on 155 reviews
patrick hilton

Really love Breckenridge Ski Resort, awesome ski/ boarder terrain. versatile for beginners to Advanced with awesome trails. I usually spend 7 day trips and with a multi-pass I'm able to do Breckenridge three or four times while doing Vail or one of the other nearby resorts slopes. The town is awesome accommodations are very good all over with accessibility to the mountain and many of the rentals across the mountain really look forward to going again soon.

Posted on Nov 18, 2017
Tim Koeneman

Great resort, great town! There are plenty of options for all levels. From the south side of peak 10 to the T-Bar plenty of fun to be had. Can’t wait to get back there

Posted on Nov 18, 2017
Juan vera

Breckenridge is an amazing ski mountain. Very freindly people. Mountain has all kinds of terrain from beginners to advanced. Has enough powder to cover every part of the mountain for 3 months and starts opening and closing lifts as soon as safety allows.

Posted on Nov 18, 2017
Andrew shoaf

The best above tree line ski/riding in Colorado and you can ride from the top of a cornice right the the center of town it's a place everyone should go

Posted on Nov 17, 2017
Christian Lasher

Love Breckenridge! My sweetie and I were married at Saphire Point so it is our special place. The resort is very nice and the people are wonderful. It is our favorite spot to ski and enjoy the mountains. We keep coming back year after year.

Posted on Nov 17, 2017
Joel Thompson

Has always been my go to favorite resort since I started when I was 5 years old, I am now 24 and still love it just as much as ever. Took my first lesson here!

Posted on Nov 18, 2017
Bill

Love Breckinridge. The town is amazing. The resort is extreme well managed and run. The shopping and restaurants give this area the best experience you can ask for. Cannot wait to get to the mountains and start the season. Should be ht

Posted on Nov 18, 2017
Kyle craft

Always been my go to resort. Always my number 1 favorite every season.love the variety so many runs and lifts. Love the options . terrain park is a beast too. Love the super pipe and all the little jumps you find everywhere

Posted on Nov 17, 2017
Casey N

I love breckinridge but the parking situation could use some work. The drive from Denver isn’t bad but Breckinridge is much too crowded to make it worth it. The lodging is VERY expensive and so are the restaurants on the mountain.

Posted on Nov 17, 2017
Kyle daly

Went during dew tour. Was a great time with plenty to do! Lots of great terrain variations to check out. Would recommend stopping here atleast once. Town is quite entertaining after the slopes as well

Posted on Nov 17, 2017