By: Rylan May
Most people head to Breckenridge and spend their entire vacation on the ski resort. Now, we are not going to say that is a bad time, but we will say it is not for everyone and even if it is for you, you might be surprised by some of these suggestions for your next winter vacation.
1. Ride the Black Mountain Express
Now think about this, how many people do you know who do not ski or snowboard that have never ridden a chairlift? The numbers will surprise you, and so will this fun relaxing excursion for the whole family or friends group.
First and foremost: How to get there
A ride or drive up the highway to Summit County can be taxing on a group. Why not just skip the famous Eisenhower tunnel and make your relatives nervous with a trip over world famous Loveland Pass.
Until the late 1970s this way the only was into the county from the East. Towering Alpine landscapes will take your breath away, with a photo opportunity by the sign that states you are 11,990’ above sea level! Next you will descend just below the Alpine. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will emerge in the foreground. Arapahoe Basin; or A-Basin, the Basin to the locals was founded in 1947 by 10th Mountain Division Veterans of World War II.
The Black Mountain Express from the base area is the main vein to reach mid-mountain. Named after Black Mountain directly to the East, towering over 13,000’ above sea level.
For a mere $15 a ticket you can ride the chairlift roundtrip, booking before on site is $10 for adults! As it should be children 14 and under are totally free. On top of the normal ticket they also offer a $30 a ride lift, roundtrip, and receive a meal voucher worth around $20.. Complete with a full kitchen and bar, everyone in your group will be satisfied. For the adults in the group I’d highly recommend the delicious Bacon Bloody Mary, made with Bacon flavored vodka. Thirsty yet? Maybe hungry?
A piece of local advice:
If you are in need of an adorable memento, I have a suggestion in which I’ve done myself. For the smallest among us (5 and under), Arapahoe offers a free season pass. Even if you never make it there again this season, your little one will have a real usable pass from this winter.
Keep it stress free:
The best part of it all for groups; no equipment required, and the lift comes with a lap bar for comfort and safety. The lift slows on the takeoff and landing and services all types of people. When you disembark you will notice the stunning Black Mountain Lodge, complete with a 270 degree panorama view of stunning Arapahoe Basin and the world famous “East Wall”.
This miniature excursion is a delight for the family to experience the Rockies with no skill required. If you or your group do want to ski or ride there, day tickets are usually $60-70 less than the mega resorts. On your way into Summit County don’t miss “the Basin!”. Check out one of the original United States Ski Areas.
2. Learn a new skill or perfect an old one: Winter Fly Fishing
Are you aware that like most things Colorado, we fish here all year! Every year millions of drivers pass by or stop at exit 205 in Silverthorne/Dillon (known to some locals by the nickname “Dilverthorne”. Little do they know they are mere hundred yards from a Gold Medal Trout Stream.
The Blue River:
The mighty Blue River starts it’s life high on Hoosier Pass before descending into historic Breckenridge and continuing to the 7th largest lake in the state by volume. After the Dillon Dam the Blue returns to glory and continues all the way to the confluence with the Colorado River.
Cutthroat Anglers was started in Silverthorne more than 20 years ago by legendary fishing guide Trapper Rudd. With a location right on the Blue River, it has served as a perfect Summit County fishing outpost for decades. Fly fishing can seem intimidating to the outlooker, Cutthroat not only guides all skill levels and ages (I would not recommend to anyone younger than 6) but also offers introduction classes to the local community.
You can book a trip online or by calling (970)262-2878. They run wading trips all winter on the Blue River in town. Would you ever have imagined you could go skiing and fly fishing in the same day? We Coloradans love our multiple sport days, and want you to join us!
3. Learn the history: The Briggle House
History buff in the group? Once they realize the rich Western history in Summit County, they could spend ages learning about it. When folks think of the term “gold rush” they usually picture California and a certain pro football team.
The Colorado Gold Rush:
However, Colorado also had many different gold rushes in the 19th century. The only reason the town of Breckenridge exists is because of gold. The year was 1859, and lodes were discovered at Gold Run, Georgia, American, French, and Humbug Gulches on the Swan River, as well as the Blue River itself. Before the ski resort was established in the 1960s, this now world famous winter sports town was at a real risk of becoming an abandoned ghost town.
Museum or Haunted House?
On Main Street in Breckenridge sits the Briggle House. This gorgeous Victorian House was originally a one bedroom house before being converted to this gem. Not only is it rife with history and artifacts, but also has rumors of a haunted history. According to a customer, “One of the best places in Breckenridge for the history and paranormal investigations”.
Don’t travel far:
With easy access from Main Street, stop on by before you head to your hotel when you get into town. With a 4.8/5 on Google reviews, this is a must see. It will either put you in the Breckenridge mood, or make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Learn more!
4. You don’t have to like skiing to like Nordic skiing
Next on our list is another unique Rocky Mountain experience. Most people heading to Breckenridge and going for alpine sports in the massive ski resort. Now say your an athletic person and want to get away from the biggest town in the county. Your answer echoes the history of the town.
En route before you arrive in Breckenridge on Highway 9 you will see a few places of note. This includes the highly accessible town of Frisco, our local hospital, our local high school, and last you will pass Gold Run Nordic Ski Area.
Quick history or Nordic Skiing:
Nordic skiing is a carried tradition here dating back to the original prospectors. Many of these first wealth seekers came from the Scandinavian region and needed to implement their own customs to get around in the Rockies.
The evolution of Nordic Skiing:
Today you can enjoy this relaxing and athletic winter sport on groomed trails. Much easier than the original men and women who came here and created our mountain towns. Unlike them, enjoy some hot chocolate by a fire inside the Nordic center after your cross country skiing excursion.
Prices are very reasonable compared to Alpine skiing, $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, under 13 years old are free! Rentals are available not only for nordic, but Fat bikes, and snowshoes as well. So stop on by Gold Run Nordic Center before you enter the town and get a taste of some solace. You can find more information here.
5. For the advanced skier: take on the back country
Now say you’ve been coming to Breckenridge for years and have gotten pretty skilled. Did you know that Quandary Peak to the south is one of our 14,000’ mountains? Did you also know you can ski Quandary Peak? Hiking the behemoth in the summer can be accomplished by anyone in reasonable shape and determination. In the long winter this is a much more difficult and rewarding trip.
Take a guided tour (unless you are fully trained):
For untouched powder skiing and pure Colorado backcountry, we know the pros. Colorado Adventure Guides is a local company based in Breckenridge. They offer a myriad of winter backcountry excursions with an experienced professional. Take a day away from it, and brag to your chairlift mates about your powder project during your visit. You can find activities to book here.
All in all, Summit County and Breckenridge are a treasure to behold. Your trip does not have to be singularly focused. There are a lifetime of incredible winter opportunities. Remember to do your part and bust out those snow dances for the Norse god Ullr. We hope to see you soon in the mountains!