photo: Courtesy of Breckenridge Resort Chamber/Jeff Scroggins
#8 Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge is a polarizing place. Its wind-scoured steeps and miles of beginner terrain inspire heated reactions, both positive and negative—sometimes even from the same person. “I have a love-hate relationship with Breck,” says one reader. “I hate the road in, and Peak 7 is a nightmare. But when it snows, all the hassles float away.”
The perennial complaint about Breckenridge is the “horrible crowds,” and it’s true that the maze-like tangle of interlocked, often crowded greens and blues that funnel into the base areas can make it feel like you’re skiing on I-70. But Breck is a big place, and it rewards skiers who push a bit farther afield.
Take, for instance, Mustang and the other bump-riddled blacks on Peak 10. Not only are they nearly always crowd free, but Breckenridge’s notorious wind often loads up the north-facing slopes, making them uncrowded and soft.
Skiers seeking a challenge can hike off of the nearly 13,000-foot elevation Imperial lift and drop into the steep and technical Lake Chutes. Looking for cruiser blues? Head to the other side of the mountain to ski Monte Cristo and the rest of Peak 7’s rolling groomers.
Not surprisingly, Breck’s always-busy Main Street receives high marks for its après scene (No. 6) and off-hill activities (No. 7). Some readers worry that the burgeoning downtown might too much of a good thing, calling it the “home of the creeping condos,” and a “poster boy for overbuilding,” but under the veneer of T-shirt shops and condo developments Breckenridge retains a small-town, skier-centric vibe, and a true ski community.
Breck also shines on hill in the terrain park, where it ranked No. 2. There’s a reason for that: The five parks have depth as well as amplitude. Peak 9’s marquee feature is the Freeway Super Park, where big-name pros like Colby West and Bobby Brown throw down in the superpipe, but it’s also home to Trygves, where ski schoolers can catch their first airs off mini rollers.
That diversity of terrain, which “keeps the whole family happy,” is the name of Breck’s game, and what keeps the crowds coming for more. If there wasn’t something for everyone, everyone wouldn’t be here. —Heather Hansman
/ What’s New / If you didn’t log enough vertical on the slopes, this fall Breck opened an all-season, 2,500-foot-long alpine coaster.
/ Local Tip / Tiny My Thai, buried on the bottom level of a strip mall on South Main, serves the best green curry in Summit County.
/ Mandatory Run / When you’re ready for it, take the T-bar to Horseshoe Bowl. Fight the wind on the ridge—there’s a reason they call it “Breckenfridge”—and
you’ll be rewarded with 40-degree-plus steeps.