A guide to skiing in Breckenridge

Categories USA

Breckenridge is the most popular USA resort for UK skiers, so why does skiing in Breckenridge drive so many of us to this old American mining town?

It’s got some pretty incredible competition in the likes of Vail, Aspen, Jackson Hole, Lake Tahoe and Utah’s multitude of resorts, so why’s it so special?

With Crystal launching  an exclusive 2 for 1 lift pass offer on for January departures in 2013, perhaps it’s time to start considering a ski resort across the pond.

  • Well first off it is very easy to get to – Jackson Hole, Utah and Lake Tahoe either involve a second flight or car hire and although they’re worth finding they do make us work a little harder to get there.
  • Second of all it’s a bit more down to earth than some of the Colorado resorts known to attract celebs and a higher price tag. Here in the UK we’ve got up-market resorts much closer, so if we’re going to the USA we want to feel like we’re in it!
  • Third of all it’s got the snow, 300+ inches in an “average” season, and my God it has the terrain – 4 interlinked mountains made up of 150 runs, 5 bowls, spread across 2358 acres and navigated by 31 lifts. (In-take of breath).

Ski away (a lot)

Another huge benefit of Breckenridge is it’s owned by Vail Resorts which, as you might have guessed by the name, also owns Vail which is about 45mins away – but (like an advert on the shopping channel) there’s more! The lift pass will also give you access to Beaver Creek (Vail’s slightly older and richer brother), Keystone (a local’s favourite) and Arapahoe Basin – if you’re in the states for impeccable groomers give that one a miss, experts only.

Between the 5 resorts you’re looking at over 700 runs spread over some 13,000 acres – that’s around double the size of the Three Valleys.

All of the resorts offer the free guiding service which is common in North America, so even if you’re there for a day you’ll be able to make use of a local’s expertise and get around a good chunk of the resort.

Now – you need to check which lift pass covers which resorts, sometimes there are some restrictions on how many days you can ski at certain resorts and there are a few permutations of lift passes (easiest thing to do is speak to one of our USA specialists).

We arrange ski away days from Breck to nearby resorts otherwise you’ll need to hire a car, get a cab or use public transport to get around. All of which our in-resort reps can help with.

To be honest most people find there’s more than enough to keep them entertained on Breck mountain, so unless you really want to ski them all you’ll be pretty happy staying put apart from the ‘must do’ day to Vail.

 Après ski (Yep – you do get this in the USA) and eating out

North America gets a bad reputation for not having après ski, and although the truth is you’ll never get people dancing on tables in their ski boots in the same way you do in St Anton – in Breckenridge they like a drink!

After skiing the various bars at the base of each of the four mountains are usually littered with people enjoying locally brewed Colorado beer (and not the stuff that Jean-Claude Van Damme can be seen on the TV ramming down our throats at the moment).

What the USA does do better than most other ski destinations is a naturally friendly atmosphere, you get table service pretty much everywhere you go and thanks to your accent expect to chat to the locals – a lot.

Eating out in the evening gives you loads of choice – there’s the USA staples like a couple of outstanding steak houses, some great burger joints and a token shrimp place.

Along with a multitude of other restaurants, and because it’s a more down to earth place the prices are good, food great and portion sizes huge. Breck doesn’t allow fast food chains so don’t expect to see the slightest hint of McDonalds or Taco Bell here!

If you’re still awake after skiing deserted slopes, an ample North American meal and a bit of jet lag you’re doing well. If you’ve got the energy then there’s loads of bars staying open into the early hours.

Personally I like the Golden Pan Saloon, partly because it sounds like the sort of bar that will have a spittoon and also because it’s got the proper swinging doors, which are always a little harder to navigate when leaving the bar for some reason.

Shopping is the new skiing

One of the most popular things to do off the slopes is to head to the outlet stores in Silverthorne (which is 20mins away). Among other stores there is a CK, Banana Republic, Columbia, Gap, Famous Footwear, Guess, Levi , Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Sunglass Hut and Samsonite – you don’t even need to take a second suitcase, just buy one.

It really is very cheap to buy designer stuff so try not to get too carried away and remember your luggage allowance on the flight home!

Getting there

The only direct flight from the UK to Colorado is operated by British Airways and flies from Heathrow to Denver (around 9 hrs), from there it’s a 2.5 hour transfer to Breck, being one of the closest resorts to the airport.

If you’d like car hire then there are several options. Pick it up on arrival or after a couple of days (some people prefer not to drive after a long haul flight). Driving is ridiculously easy – you need to do precisely 2 turns (one right, then one left) from the airport to get to Breck, so don’t be put off by driving, it does make accessing the huge number of other resorts much easier.

Getting there couldn’t be easier – it’s practically one long road all the way to the resort.

Accommodation choice

There’s a great range of really well priced hotels and self catering condos (like an apartment) here – unlike some of the nearby resorts the majority is good value, 3 and 4 star properties rather than a choice of expensive luxury hotels.

If you’re after high quality hotels then either the Beaver Run Resort or the Hilton’s Double Tree hotel fit the bill. Both are close to the slopes. Also available is The Village at Breckenridge which sits next to the ski lifts, or either Pine Ridge and Tannhauser Condos which offer huge apartments perfect for families, groups or those that just want a bit of extra space.

We’re pretty picky with the accommodation we feature so we’re confident our choices give you the best location, quality and price.

If you have any questions our North American specialists can chat through the benefits of each property – they have the arduous task of looking around them on a frequent basis and trying out all the facilities.

Michael is Ski-buzz's resident North America expert and writes feature articles and resort guides for Ski-buzz. There are very few resorts across the USA and Canada that Michael hasn't visited.

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