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Breckenridge Ski Resort Review

A Big Mountain, a Small Town, and a Great Vibe

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (1 Review)

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Breckenridge Colorado,Breckenridge Ski Resort,Breckenridge,CO,Colorado,ski resorts,snowboard resorts

Image © Vail Resorts Management Company

Vail Resorts’ Breckenridge Ski Resort - in Breckenridge, Colo., and known as "Breck" - is truly one of the gems of American skiing and snowboarding. An average of 300 inches (762 cm) of natural snow falls upon the 2,400 acres of Breck annually, and it's obvious that skiers and riders have taken notice - over the past ten years, the resort has averaged over 1.4 million skier days, making it one of the most popular resorts in the U.S.

The Town

Let's be realistic. Hardcore skiers and riders place the mountain above the town, amenities, and fluffy slippers that many destination resorts offer today. Continuing along our realistic bent, however, we come to realize that hardcore skiers and riders make up a small minority (probably under 25% of snowriders), which means that towns, amenities, and fluffy slippers matter. It's ok to cry - I'm with ya...but in the case of Breckenridge, they deliver on all fronts.

Unlike so-called "town-in-a-can" setups like Vail and Stratton, the town of Breckenridge is a real town. With a population just over 3,000 people, the place is oozing with wild-west authenticity, from the history to the architecture. Founded in 1859 to serve the miners pulling gold from the surrounding hills, the town has been featured in several movies, including National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Dumb & Dumber.

One thing to note: Breck is high, and I'm not making a snowboard stoner joke here. At an altitude of 9,600 feet (2,927 m), the town is nearly a quarter-mile higher than Vail. Although most people will be fine at this altitude, it should be mentioned that thin air and decreased humidity prevail in Breckenridge.

Back to the town and it's authentic charm - from hotels to inns, restaurants to coffee shops, and, of course, shopping galore, the place impresses. There truly is something for everyone that visits Breck! Hardcore skibums meld easily with college kids taking a break from reality, and everyone, including visitors, is quick to smile and say, "How are you?" Needless to say, it's a cool town!

The Mountain

Breckenridge Ski Resort Bowls, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge, Skiing, Snowboarding

© 2009 Christopher Del Sole

Ready for the goods? Great, because Breckenridge has got 'em. Spread over four mountain peaks, the resort has something for everyone. Novice trails make up 15% of the mountain (nearly 600 acres), and beginners will delight in skiing trails like Four O'Clock, which runs almost from top to bottom (at 3.5 miles long (5.6 km), it's the longest run on the mountain).

At 64%, or just over 1,500 acres, intermediate and advanced riders have the majority of the mountain to play on. Cruising down Country Boy on Peak 9, Claimjumper or Alpine Alley on Peak 8, or Wirepatch over on Peak 7 is a blast. Those that dream of following a groomer down the hill can take solace in the fact that Breck grooms early and often, ensuring silky-smooth corduroy is in effect whenever the mood strikes.

Experts will be downright giddy standing atop Breckenridge, especially on a powder day (and with an average annual snowfall that approaches 25 feet, powder days are plentiful). Riding off the top of the Imperial Express, both Peak 7 Bowl and Horseshoe Bowl are easily accessed and offer heart-pounding pitches, ample opportunity for air, and the wide-open experience that bowls have always offered. Of course, in the name of diversity, not all the experts at Breck seek out the high terrain above the trees. The mountain offers plenty of thrills down low, too!

What about lift lines, you ask? In the immortal words of Anthony Soprano - fugghedaboutit! Breck's uphill capacity of 40,680 riders per hour means that wait times are manageable (longest we waited was maybe 7 minutes), even during the busiest times.

A Mecca for the Park & Pipe Set

Over the past few years, Breckenridge has turned itself into a terrain park mecca. Given the number of pro skiers and riders that call the Summit County area home, this isn't surprising, but what's most impressive about Breck's parks is the way they're laid out. There's a very clear, very obvious delineation between the beginner (small), intermediate (medium), advanced/expert (large), and pro-level (you current on your health and life insurance?) parks. This strategy is not only safer for all involved, but also serves to help all the non-professional skiers and riders progress at a reasonable pace; in other words, you don't have to worry about going from a five-foot flat box set flush in the ground to a 40-foot single-barrel handrail ten feet off the ground. Progression is the name of the game when it comes to Breck's parks.

I've never been accused of being the sharpest edge on a board, and I've hit some big ol' park features in my day, but even on a perfect spring-day with soft, cushy landings, I wasn't going anywhere near the monster three-jump line in the Freeway terrain park. Don't quote me on this, but I'd estimate the first jump at around 50-55 feet (15-16 meters), the second jump slightly bigger, and the third jump at something nuts - minimum 70, maybe closer to 85 feet (21-25 meters). Nevertheless, the features are well built, well maintained, and on the day I was there they were getting a good workout by some local pros. If you think you can throw down in the park, head to Breck. You'll know where you stand almost instantly.

Leave the (Rental) Car at Home!

Breckenridge Ski Resort Terrain Parks, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge, Breck, Terrain Parks

© Breckenridge Ski Resort

With a solid public transportation system that includes the BreckConnect Gondola, vehicles are optional. In-town bus service, known as Free Ride, runs daily from 6 a.m. to midnight; a town trolley runs every 20 minutes from 9 a.m. to midnight during ski season as well. The Summit Stage provides transportation to the towns of Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne as well as nearby resorts Keystone and Copper from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round. ALL the above transportation options are 100% FREE!

Bus service is great, but Disney World has buses, and people aren't raving about Walt's environmentally friendly transportation system. That's where the BreckConnect Gondola comes into play. Opened in 2006 as a joint venture between the resort and the town, the gondola features 121 cabins that can hold up to eight people, ski and snowboard gear included. Running from the Breckenridge Transportation Center (same as the buses), and stopping at both Shock Hill and the base of Peak 7 before continuing on to the resort's main base area at Peak 8, the total ride time is 10 minutes, with an hourly capacity of 3,000 riders. The gondola runs from 8 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., and is currently open year-round.

DISCLOSURE:
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary lift ticket for the purpose of reviewing this resort. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 1 out of 5
Avoid Vail Resorts bookings at Breckenridge, Member RGCmd

Beware of cancellation policies at Vail Resorts on hotels in Breckenridge. Their inflexible 30 day cancellation policies dictate that they will not refund any of your money, nor will they give you credit toward another stay. They pocketed over $600 of our money when we had to cancel our trip 10 days prior to arrival. We will not be using them again, nor will we return to Breckenridge.

1 out of 6 people found this helpful.

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