Ski Breckenridge and you will believe bigger is better

Ski Breckenridge on a busy weekend and you might start to panic about the crowds heading up on the lower lifts.

But Breck is so big that even on the Saturday before the Denver Broncos played Superbowl – so absolutely everyone was out skiing so they could watch the game on Sunday – we found ourselves alone on Peak 6.

No lift queue, and no one else heading out the gate for the short hike up to access a ridge line of tasty windblown powder shots.

We were equally lonely off Peak 8 too, scooting out above Imperial Bowl without even hiking.

Peak 6 powder day at Breckenridge
Peak 6 powder © Andrew Maguire / Vail Resorts

So yes, bigger is better for anywhere within day trip distance of a big city.

The sprawling layout at Breckenridge means you can’t help but more around and ski all over the place anyway. There are endless classic American cruising groomer trails through the pines, so anybody can access most of it.

Above treeline North America’s highest lift, the Imperial Chair, reaches an impressive 3,914m / 12,840′ – which is higher than anything in Europe, and enough to take your breath away for the views and the lack of oxygen. A lot of Colorado areas are high altitude, so getting acclimatised on arrival is a good idea. That and hydrating regularly (not with beer sadly, that can be counter-productive..)

You need a wide angle to take it all in © Jack Affleck / Vail Resorts

Locals living here year round do adapt. Many are super active year round, skiing winters and biking and hiking summers. So they get super fit. Aussie Ski School veteran Lee Sky was never breathless giving us an express tour on our mission to ski all five Breckenridge Peaks.

The altitude and location amid some of the region’s highest peaks gives Breckenridge some of Colarado’s best and most reliable snow conditions. They get nearly 9m / 350 inches season snowfall. That means plenty of top ups, and boot deep or better days are common.

North America's highest lifted point is the top of the Imperial Express at Breckenridge
North America’s highest lift takes you near the peak of Imperial Bowl © Owain Price

Ski Breckenridge’s 5 Peaks

Peak 6 is the most recent addition (you can now ski Peaks 6 through 10), and the perfect getaway if it’s busying up elsewhere. The 6-pack chair accesses long blue runs, usually with less traffic than the rest of the mountain.

Get there before the ridgeline gate above it closes for some lonelier lines, including choose your spot steepish chutes. The panoramic view from the top looks out straight down over Copper and Ski Cooper off the back, to Vail beyond, back around to Keystone and A Basin, and of course down the valley to historic Breckenridge itself.

Back skier’s left from the top takes you into the aptly named Beyond Bowl – hike for the gnarly chutes way in, or just traverse for a know-your-limitations line.

Peak 8 is the original, Breck’s first lifted area that now boasts the Imperial Express to access plenty of great lines with no hiking required. Even on a peak Saturday we were out there alone. Skier’s right Imperial Bowl is rated double black but and advanced skier or rider shouldn’t have any problems. The chutes staying higher are shorter but sweeter. Heading skier’s left back to the Peak 7 Bowl is a great option too. Lap bak via the t-bar, which used to be the highest lift – I never could understand why they didn’t push lifts higher into the alpine. You may not want to go anywhere else doing this on a good day.

You can hike to the summit from Peak 8 too, improving the options a little, but still falling 2′ short of topping 13,000 feet ..

Skiing powder off Peak 8 at Breckenridge
Heading down towards Peak 9 from the Peak 8 ridge; peak season Saturday at Breck. Bigger IS better! © Owain Price

Peak 7 off the lift is cruiser central and a good start point coming up on the Breck Connect Gondola from the carpark or lower town accommodation. Just scoot over to the Independence Super Chair.

Peak 9 has another short hike option to steeper tree lines, making it a go to when the alpine is socked in. A lot of the steeper bump runs and glades are here too, lap back on the old E-Chair. The main upper part of Peak 9 splits neatly between a cruisy blue side and more challenging back side. The lower slopes feature the longest green runs.

Peak 10 is billed as advanced terrain only, and another good socked in day option for better skiers.

Peak 9 Exit Gate at Breckenridge
Peak 9 Hike option is great for nice pitch tree runs © Owain Price

Suffice to say there is plenty for all.

High Alpine Trail Map © Vail Resorts

Breckenridge town

There’s plenty for all in the where to stay and what to do department at Breck too.

In most couples one partner loves to shop. Far be it for us to say who that usually is, but with 200 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, many filled with shops, there are plenty for them.

There are lots of great bars and restaurants too. The Gold Pan Saloon (built in 1879) has one of the oldest liquor licenses west of the Mississippi. In 1887, Colorado’s largest piece of gold was discovered near Breckenridge. Nicknamed “Tom’s Baby”, it weighed 13.5 pounds.

Apart from actual slopeside lodging, including some mega complexes like Beaver Run Resort, there’s a lot of accommodation in the lower town area you can almost ski back to on home trails that are within a short walk of access lifts in the morning.

Or for even cheaper, especially on a longer trip, down the road in Frisco and Dillon there is lots more. You don’t need a car, as the Summit Stage shuttles operate around Summit County, but for full Epic Pass flexibility to scoot down I-70 to Vail and Beaver Creek, apart from locally to Keystone, it will come in handy. 

Historic buildings Breckenridge
Breckenridge boasts 200 historic register buildings, most filled with shops, bars and restaurants © Carmen Price

Breckenridge Epic Australia Pass status

With almost unlimited Epic Australia Pass access (just a handful of holiday blackout dates apply) Breckenridge is also a great long stay destination for visiting Epic Aussies. For Epic Pass variety it even beats the Tahoe area – you also get almost unlimited access at Keystone, plus up to 10 days between Vail and Beaver Creek (this 10 also include Whistler). Check full details/get passes here

Access to Breckenridge

Breckenridge is around 2 hours (outside peak traffic times – pow days & weekends I-70 becomes a parking lot) from Denver. Drive 98 miles (159 km) west via I-70, then take exit 203 (Highway 9) south nine miles to Breckenridge.

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