Towering majestically over an old mining town with a high point reaching a dizzying elevation of nearly 13,000 feet, Breckenridge Ski Resort is striking. Characterized by the expansive Horseshoe Bowl nestled between peaks and ridges, it’s safe to say that Breckenridge (or ‘Breck’ as it’s known to locals) ranks among the most impressive-looking ski resorts in the world. And as you might imagine, its panache extends far beyond aesthetic beauty.
The town of Breckenridge itself dates back to the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of 1859 when miners flocked to the area to find their fortunes. Unfortunately, the subsequent mining bust left the bustling town with less than 400 residents, so the resort opened in 1961 in an effort to reinvigorate the population. The ski area was initially comprised of just one double chairlift on Peak 8. Ten years later, Peak 9 opened and since then, the resort has expanded to include five peaks, 34 lifts, 187 trails (many names of which nod to mining themes and tales) and nearly 3,000 skiable acres.
What was once a single lift mountain now attracts skiers from around the world with an abundance of terrain for every level of skier.
An oasis for fresh-faced skiers and riders, Peak 9 holds a special place in the hearts of thousands who learned the art of making turns on its wide-open, welcoming terrain. Green runs (the easiest) occupy the entire base of the mountain, with Silverthorne, Frontier, and Lower Lehman offering a gentle pitch ideal for slower speeds and honing your technique.
For beginners branching out into the world of intermediate terrain, Peak 9 is also home to a couple of fantastically mellow blues—Briar Rose and Country Boy—that meander peacefully among the pines from top to bottom. Another go-to area for newbies is the original stomping ground of Breck forefather Trygve Berge, co-founder of the resort. Trygve’s Run is among the collection of short trails off of Peak 8’s easy double chairlift (Rip’s Ride) while longer green runs like Swinger, Springmeier, and Powerline can be accessed off of 5-Chair, which offers inspirational views of freeskiers and riders launching tricks in the terrain park below.
Nearly one-third of Breck’s expansive terrain is dedicated to intermediate skiers, but the hot spot for for long, rolling cruisers is Peak 7. Served by the swift Independent SuperChair, Peak 7 boasts blue runs in every downward direction, all groomed into a smooth velvet just begging to be sliced by your edges. With the exception of the steeper, powder-filled glade known as Ore Bucket, the entirety of Peak 7 is comprised of blue trails.
Savvy skiers, you’re in for a treat. More than half of Breck’s terrain is naturally designed especially for you, with the majority of it situated on the highest ridges of the resort in the form of sweeping bowls and powdery chutes. Peak 10, served by the brand new 4-person Falcon SuperChair, is an ideal starting point. Long, smooth runs like Centennial and Doublejack serve as warm-ups before you dip into the wide glades of The Burn and then head high above the trees.
If you’re new to Breck, you probably started salivating the second you laid eyes on that aforementioned bowl that towers above town. Every line down Peak 8’s Horseshoe Bowl is rife with jump-turn opportunities, while the Whale’s Tail will take you off an overhang before mellowing into an expanse of steep white fields and snaking through rock bands on runs like Vertigo and Y-Chute. The ultimate rush for those with strong lungs is a hike to the Peak 6 Summit at 12,573 feet, where you can take your pick from a virtual candy store of steep, double-black lines.
The cherry on the top of any ski day is soaking up the rays on a sunny patio with a frothy beverage in hand. Breck has no shortage of these, from the million dollar views (and amazing Bloody Marys) at Peak 7’s Sevens Restaurant to the front row seats of Superpipe competitions at Peak 8’s T-Bar Grill and the party vibe at the Maggie Restaurant & Bar.
There are, of course, ways to maintain your elevation while enjoying a libation, too. The Overlook Restaurant is a divine end-of-day stop before your last run down, as is the Vista Haus or Pioneer Crossing.
After that, you have a magical evening ahead of you. The real-town charm of Breckenridge is world-renowned, its glowing Main Street packed with dozens of vibrant bars and restaurants offering everything from award-winning fine dining (try Hearthstone, Relish, or Twist) to cheap beer and wings. Breck’s oldest bar, The Gold Pan Saloon, is worth a stop, or head to the Motherloaded Tavern, where you’ll feel like family. There’s also an entire video arcade to discover at family-favorite Downstairs at Eric’s and. hidden a couple of blocks above Main Street, is The Speakeasy Movie Theatre.
You’ll find that Breck has something fun to explore around every corner. But regardless of whether you are on the mountain or in town, you’ll also have the best views of the real reason you came – those snow-covered peaks.
Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts