It’s Always About The Snow: Ski Breckenridge

Breckenridge Brewery - Ski Breckenridge

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — I’m a recovering skier from California. I grew up skiing at Mammoth and Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountain area. I didn’t bother investigating other ski resorts until I was older and wiser because Mammoth offers a huge mountain and a low-key SoCal attitude, while Tahoe offers stunning lake vistas and a bit more chic and exciting après-ski scene.

Curiosity grows with age and education. In college, my childhood best friend at Brigham Young University urged that I ski Alta, Park City, and Sundance with her and the non-drinking population (a welcome reprieve from the flowing undergrad kegs just about everywhere). Good day, powder! Hello there, aspen groves! Hello, you’re unique and entertaining! Until a few years ago, I kept to the Mammoth-Tahoe-Park City route.


My ski nerdiness was genuine: it took me two decades to go from Utah to Colorado. A few weeks back, I skied for the first time in Breckenridge and Vail. While I believe that loyalty is a wonderful thing in general, I’ve certainly been missing out. But bear with me as I explain (defend myself). Colorado has eluded me for one simple reason: it’s cold up there. The higher elevation of Colorado means more snow (which is great), but it also means colder weather (brrr, bad). Let’s make a comparison: Breckenridge is 13,000 feet above sea level at its highest point. Park City has a population of 10,000 people, while Mammoth has a population of 11,000 people. The extra 3,000 feet of elevation may bring colder, but it also means more snow.

I picked Colorado because I needed good snowfall in December and there aren’t many places where you can count on it. December snowfall in California is unpredictable: one year, the Sierra Nevadas may receive more snow than any other mountain range on the planet. Nothing the following year. Everything has to be manufactured by machine. However, Colorado frequently receives a lot of snow, resulting in a season that lasts well into the spring.

You get the picture: Colorado is a skier’s paradise. Its numerous mountain villages can be reached in less than two hours by automobile or on connecting flights from Denver International Airport, a massive, convenient hub with direct flights across the United States. The major ski resorts are Vail, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Aspen/Snowmass, and Breckenridge. When you just have a month to arrange a trip, your options are limited. Not only are Aspen and Vail exorbitantly priced, but they’re also often booked months in advance.

Breckenridge it was, for a variety of reasons. From Denver, it’s only a 90-minute drive. The mountain is large and varied, and because of the numerous resorts and condos located near the slopes, skiing in and out is a given. (I’ve never seen that many at other resorts.) The atmosphere is relaxed, but you’ll find all the services and comforts you’d expect in a ski town. Breckenridge is a genuine, unspoiled mining town with fantastic restaurants and a proper Main Street lined with cute local stores.


The mountain is a lot of fun for both snowboarders and skiers. Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are the names of the bases. Each summit has multiple paths, bringing the total number of trails to around 200. Peaks 7, 8, and 9 are the most popular, with Peak 6 being the newest. 34 lifts efficiently transport skiers up the mountains. Breckenridge isn’t as steep as Vail, but the top of the mountain, as well as peaks 6, 8, and 9, offer excellent black diamond skiing. About Colorado, I’ll say this: The runs are indeed a Four O’Clock and are the longest trail at 3.5 miles. If you’re a type-A skier who likes to keep track of your runs, one Breckenridge run is roughly equivalent to two or three Squaw Valley-Tahoe runs.

Breckenridge Brewery - Ski Breckenridge


On ski trips, I like a condo or a house where we can dine, play games in front of the fireplace, and watch movies in a relaxing living area. They’re also typically less expensive than hotels and lodges. Throughout the foot of the mountain, there are numerous ski-in/ski-out condo complexes and resorts. The majority of mountains feature a large lodge at the base and mid-mountain services (cafés, bathrooms, and ski stores).

Along 4 O’Clock Run, we stayed in the Tyra II condos. It was quite wonderful, quiet, and away from the noise and bustle of the peaks. Many condominiums and houses are private, and the easiest way to find them is through villa rental companies like VRBO.


The Blue River Bistro on Main Street served us a fantastic four-course prix-fixe supper on New Year’s Eve. We had dinner at SouthRidge Seafood Grill on another occasion. The atmosphere and décor are uninspiring, but don’t let that deceive you: the food is fantastic. I’m convinced about seafood in Colorado after trying mussels in Thai coconut soup and swordfish with clams in a garlic-cilantro stew.

We loaded up on groceries at City Market, a lovely grocery store with an excellent cheese variety and organic roast chicken, and at Amazing Grace, a fantastic natural foods store, when we ate at home.

We loved Breckenridge Brewery, a microbrew sports bar, among the many après-ski options. Though, because our condo was so nice and we were sore, we prioritized hot tub time over après-ski (read: felt old).


On your journey to Breckenridge or Vail, rent skis in Frisco or Silverthorne. Both are conveniently located along I-70 West, the roadway that connects Denver International Airport to the rest of the city. You will receive better equipment as well as a better value. We leased from Virgin Island Ski Rentals, who were friendly and helpful, and were available for pick-up and drop-off early and late.

Bring extra layers of Hot Chillys thermals, neck warmers, helmet liners, and particularly nice goggles, and don’t scrimp on cold-weather clothing. With the wind chill, a 20-degree day might seem like 5 degrees.


Purchase lift tickets in advance online. Breckenridge and Vail are both owned by Vail Resorts, therefore a multi-day pass includes access to both, as well as Beaver Creek, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin. It takes 45 minutes to drive from Breck to Vail in ideal conditions. Skiing at Vail is a blast, and the village is second to none. If you go to Sweet Basil, order the lobster. But make a reservation ahead of time: you won’t be alone.

Breckenridge Brewery - Ski Breckenridge


Free shuttles run between the town and the mountain regularly. The majority of hotels are less than a 15-minute walk from town.

Choose between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive when renting a car in Denver. You wouldn’t need an SUV, and you surely don’t want to drive in snow with rear-wheel drive. Colorado spends money on snowplows, so you won’t use chains or spend loads of money on four-wheel drive.

If it’s snowing, allow two to three times as much time to get to the airport as you think you’ll need. The only road is I-70, which is extremely congested on a snowy day.