After months of working tirelessly, you’ve finally earned the chance to break away from reality. The winter chill would leave most people running to a tropical location, a beach somewhere with plans to lounge and watch the waves roll in. You’re different though. You’re ready for an adventure that that gets your heart pumping. Plus, you’ve always loved snow–something about the way it blankets the world in white. You’ve landed on Breckenridge, Colorado, that place you’ve heard so much about. So how do you get the most out of your long weekend? We’ve done the work for you. Here’s our 35.5 hour plan to help you get the most out of your time in this world famous winter wonderland.
Stargazing from the Continental Divide
The winter nights are long, so when you roll into town, there’s not much daylight left. Have no fear—the night is when the real magic happens in high country. The Breckenridge area of Summit County has plenty of high alpine spots far away from busy city lights for you to see a truly incredible starscape. On a clear night, your best bet is at the top of Hoosier Pass. Follow State Road 9 up to this summit on the Continental Divide, and you’ll have nothing but the natural light of the stars surrounding you. This road also stays relatively clear throughout the winter, kept clean through regular plowing. Keep in mind that you’ll be at 11,500 feet…at night. It’s going to be cold and windy, but worth it.
For another option, especially if clouds are limiting your visibility of the stars, Swan Mountain Road has some great views of the Dillon Reservoir and the Ten Mile Range, along with the twinkling lights of the charming town of Frisco a few miles away. You’re not quite as isolated here as on Hoosier Pass, but it’s still a view you’ll never forget.
When you’re in Breck in winter, you’ve gotta go skiing. Home to five lift-accessible peaks and over 2,900 acres of skiable terrain, it will feel like you could spend an entire season exploring this resort. Unfortunately, you’re not here for that long, so you’ll have to make the most of the limited time you’ve got.
My first recommendation is to buy your lift ticket beforehand. This will save you valuable time you’ll otherwise spend waiting in a line, so you can hit the fresh snow that may have fallen overnight. There are three different peak bases that you can get to from the town: Peak 7 Base, Peak 8 Base, and Peak 9 Base. I prefer to start off by leaving the main Gondola Parking Lot and heading up the BreckConnect Gondola to either Peak 7 or 8, the two consecutive stops on this lift (you can walk to the Peak 9 Base, but depending on where you’re at, it can be a trek). Convenient maps in the gondola and on the larger lifts will show you where to head for whatever type of terrain you enjoy. That being said, if you like high altitude skiing, you can’t miss the Whale’s Tail run, up Imperial lift and between Peaks 7 and 8. If you’re a fan of groomed steeps, Peak 10 will be your best bet. Trees? The “Windows” run is just about as good as it gets in the wooded areas around this resort. Need help finding something else? The volunteers on the mountain wearing the “i” for information on their jackets are super helpful.
Ski your heart out all day and know you’ll be exhausted when the call for last chair hits. There’s something for everyone at Breckenridge. Just don’t get hurt by being too crazy, you’ve still got half a day left.
Ski slope lunch recommendation: T-Bar is my favorite place. For being at the base of Peak 8, this restaurant/bar isn’t that overpriced and the food is actually pretty good. You’ll also avoid the typical “school cafeteria” feel of most touristy resort restaurants and if you sit outside, you’ll have a great view of the jump park.
Après-Ski All Around Town
In case you haven’t heard, ski towns are huge on their after skiing/snowboarding activities and Breckenridge is one of the best places for après in Colorado. After a long day, it’s time to celebrate a great day on the slopes with delicious food and cheap beer. Change out of your ski boots (take a moment to enjoy the best feeling in the world) and head to Main Street. Here you’ll find plenty of deals and all the options you need. Two of my favorite places to stop are Gold Pan and Breckenridge Brewery, but no matter what you do, you’re sure to find something you love. If you need help narrowing down the options to just one place, Yelp it!
Main Street is also a great area to find a place for dinner, as well as the area you should hit if you plan on checking out the bar scene.
There are plenty of places to snowshoe in Breckenridge, covering a variety of lengths and elevation gain. One of the best trails for weekend visitors is the South Illinois Creek Trail. You can access the trail from the parking lot of the Stephen C. West Ice Arena and as you’ll discover, it leads to a great overlook of the town. There’s also a wooden bench at the end, perfect for a quick snack break. If you want to mix it up on the way back, follow the Southside Trail back to town. Note that Southside Trail route is a bit longer.
BRAAAP BRAAAAPPP…Go Snowmobling
If you’re coming in from out of town, chances are you won’t have your own sled (this is what people from around these parts call a snowmobile). Your best bet is to rent one from one of several companies in the area that offer this service. Some businesses will offer guided tours, while others will let you explore by yourself. If you’ve never gone snowmobiling before, find a tour. If you’re familiar with these awesome machines, you might want to check out a company like Breckenridge Snowmobiling, a company that will let you have some alone time with their toys on 50 miles worth of groomed trails around Vail Pass. Know that this activity might be a little pricey–expect to pay around $200 for a half day. That being said, you’re on vacation, you deserve it. There’s a good chance this will be the highlight of your trip.
Where to next?
Sadly, your 35.5 hours in Breckenridge has come to a close. If you’ve got a little extra time before catching your flight home, Denver is only about two hours away–take Loveland Pass for a stunning route over the mountains. Or check out Colorado Springs home to Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak, two must sees for any traveler. You’re also in the heart of Summit County, meaning you’re roughly 30 minutes away from places like Copper Mountain Resort, Arapahoe Basin Resort, and Keystone Resort–three great winter resorts.
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