Resort Guide: Breckenridge, United States

Founded in 1859, Breckenridge was one of the most prosperous mining towns in Summit County – the largest gold nugget ever dug up in Colorado was found here in 1887. Today it is one of the most popular resorts in the state, with well over a million tourists visiting during the season, and something for everyone. Breck is open from early November until late April each year and you are pretty much guaranteed good snow whenever you go.

There have been a lot of improvements to the resort in recent years, and they're showing no signs of slowing down. For the 2013/14 season, the resort is adding over 540 acres of skiable terrain, an increase of a whopping 23%. About 140 of those will be intermediate off-piste bowls reached with an easy hike, while the rest will be well served by lifts, so even regular visitors will have good reason to head back again this year.

Did you Know?

Despite being set in Aspen, various scenes for Dumb & Dumber were actually set in Breck. Apparently it was cheaper.

The Parks

Breckenridge has one of the top five parks in America and probably the world! There are usually six different park areas stretching 25 acres that are spread across Peaks 8 and 9 – all the way from mini shred to ginormous pro lines. It’s the perfect place for anyone of any level to practise freestyle, and you are pretty much guaranteed to progress if you spend some time here. They have the perfect set up, with mini rails, boxes and jumps in the two mini parks, plus a small park, a medium park (Park Lane) and pipe, and finally the expert park (Freeway). This has the biggest and best-built jumps and pipe you will find… well, pretty much anywhere! Just ask Billy Morgan, who landed his first ever backside triple cork here in spring 2013. Billy and his fellow Team GB riders regularly continue their training just down the road at neighbouring Copper, where the Woodward indoor facility offers trampolines, ramps and foam pits (N.B You'll need to pay separately for entry since the resorts are not afiliated)

Breck invest a lot into their shaping team, and it shows. They have some of the earliest pre-season jumps, and the best on-going grooming and maintenance throughout the season. Everything is set up with painstaking precision, creating a safe environment in which to train - they even radar test the jumps to get the speed just right! The only slight downside is access to the parks. There are no dedicated lifts and it can take a while to complete a lap.

Dreck has an amazing pro team, including British rider Nate Kern along with a host of other big names like Eric Willet and JJ Thomas. This year it's the first port of call for the 2014 Olympic qualifying series, and will run from 12th - 15th December.

The Powder

There can be dry spells in Colorado, but this is pretty rare, as there’s usually around 7.5 metres of snow per year, so a fresh, light and fluffy dump is never far away. There are plenty of good runs and tons of trees, but you will need to get up early to join the ever-enthusiastic locals to find first tracks.

The vertical at Breck is not huge, but the runs are plenty long enough for some leg burn. You can shred all the way from open powder fields near the top of the mountain down into the trees nearer the base. For steeper runs head up the Imperial Super Chair and after a short hike of about 15mins you should be able to access the Lake Chutes which have a 55 degree pitch! You can also drop into a number of other high alpine bowls and reach the top of Peak 7. Peak 10 has some great steeper stuff too, as well as more tree runs. There are also quite a few hikes off the back of Peaks 9 and 10 for some sneaky freshies.

The Pistes

There are a few cat tracks and flat spots around the mountain, but these can be avoided with careful planning. Most of the runs are wide, open and all are perfectly groomed each morning. Everything is avalanche controlled, including the runs that would normally be considered off-piste.

The mountain is covered with tree runs and secret shacks, and finding new routes through the trees every day can be a real adventure. The snow stays the perfect consistency pretty much all season until the spring.

Earlier this year the resort embarked on "the Peak 6 Project", a massive program of expansion that will see two new chairs installed opening up "400 acres of lift-accessed terrain and 143 acres of hike-to-terrain". This will all open in time for this season, which is pretty exciting!

The Parties

Breck is a relatively small town with a population of around 2800, but it swells to around 34,000 at busy times during the winter – so as you can imagine, there are plenty of parties going on. You can ride all the way down to town or the parking lots and head to one of the many awesome happy hours, which a lot of the bars run from between 3 and 5pm.

You’ll find plenty of cheap beer and two for one’s at places like Bubba Gump’s, Mi Casa, Rita’s and the Blue River Bistro – a place which combines a cocktail bar with a top quality restaurant. Later on for the ‘real’ parties and the proper Breck nightlife scene head to Cecilia’s, the Liquid Lounge, Salt Creek or 320 South Main. Cecilia’s is the hot spot of the town with a good size dance floor and wicked sound system and all the others provide good entertainment, with some top acts appearing at 320 South Main. For pool, slightly more casual drinks and a good general atmosphere head to the Park Ave Pub and Brooklyns.

For those who like entertainment of the ‘erbal variety, it’s worth remembering that Breckenridge (like nearby Denver) has legalised the possession of up to one ounce of weed. For late night drunken (or stoned) munchies check out Lucha next to Cecilia’s or the crepe stand on Main Street.