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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 168 reviews
Caleb Vincent

The ability to access the mountain basically from town is very convenient, I would even go as far as saying it is the most hastle free mountain I've been to when attempting to be first on the lift

Posted on Nov 21, 2017
Collin Jones

The terrain at Breckinridge is fun and the snow is usually decent. However, the parking situation deters me from riding there. I don't like having to take a shuttle and gondola just to get to the base of the mountain.

Posted on Nov 21, 2017
Jake Weiner

Favorite place on earth! Really enjoy the locals, and awesome town. There is so much to do all around town. Best resort town I’ve been to yet. Anywhere from attractions, shopping, live music. Best place for everyone in the family!

Posted on Nov 21, 2017
Evan womack

Awesome resort and great vibes! Love coming to summit county. The ski terrain is great for all levels. Friendly staff that always has the best interest for me. Can’t wsit for this year!

Posted on Nov 20, 2017
Hunter Negaard

I Love Breckinridge, but am only able to afford it through the ski pass and using a friends cabin. I can never bring friends to a resort because of the outrageous ticket prices.

Posted on Nov 20, 2017
Brian Klenke

Best resort in Colorado, best long wide runs. It sucks that it cost money to park ar the base though. Keystone is way better in that aspect. Yes I’m a cheapscape

Posted on Nov 21, 2017
Nicholas Friedman

My wife is from GOLDEN CO and we live in San Diego. We actually met on a flight from San Diego to Breckenridge and dream of one day moving there.

Posted on Nov 21, 2017
Gabe Levin

Great resort. Highly recommended if you don't want to shell out to vail. Not too crowded and some great terrain here. Options for all levels and not too far from Denver.

Posted on Nov 20, 2017
homer martin

BRECKINRIDGE!!!! It's one of the top places where my wife and I fell in love. Her family invited me to go on a thanksgiving ski trip with them to Colorado! I was a beginner and the slopes were wonderful. By Day 3 I was hauling down blues. Lucky I did not kill myself!! The town is very romantic and the locals are very nice. The memory of this town and that adventure are forever blazed on my past. I look forward to blazing a new adventure this winter. Look out Breckinridge, here we come!!!!!

Posted on Nov 20, 2017
Nate barnett

Breckenridge.... it's awesome. They've got everything you would want to ride from deep pow tree runs, to silky cords freshly groomed. Everyone on the mountain is friendly. It's a large mountain but easy to navigate. Lots to hike to for the more experienced riders. Terrain park is top notch. The city is amazing as well. I can't wait to get up this year. Highly recommend.

Posted on Nov 20, 2017