Breckenridge Skiing: A Case For (and Against)

by Greg Colquitt | October 18, 2018

A Breckenridge Tale:breckenridge t-shirt

Friends back home: “Whoah, sweet shirt. Where’d you get it?”
You: “Breckenridge”
Friends back home: *paralyzed by astonishment unsure what that word even means, but still…very cool*
You: *upon seeing your friends reaction, immense satisfaction warms your heart* “Just wait ’til you see the pics,” you say.

Breckenridge, Colorado–the Shangri La of ski trips.

Spring break? You’re probably looking at tickets for Breck. Trying to recreate Hot Tub Time Machine IRL (that’s ‘in real life’, for the non-millennial type)? Mmmmm Breck. Breckenridge Ski Resort weasels its way into every Facebook feed as one of the most idyllic Colorado ski resorts, but is it worth the hype? Will you stay for the approachable terrain and photo ops or run with your tail tucked behind your legs from the crowds and relatively flat mountain. Here’s a Breck-down that might help you make your next ski vacation decision.

The Case For:

Approachable Terrain and Lift Access

When heading out on a vacation with friends or family, chances are you haven’t been skiing very much so choosing a mountain, whether your chief concern is keeping everyone together or finding manageable terrain, can be daunting. Enter Breckenridge. With a number of lifts spread out across a wide base area, you can easily find a lift that will get you to terrain you can handle. You could spend an entire day (or week) riding up and down the lower half of the mountain without feeling like you should have your cardiologist on speed dial while also, if you please, ramp up to the upper half of the mountain for the more thrilling black and double black diamond terrain. Fun Fact: Breckenridge provides access to the highest lift-access terrain via its chair the Imperial Express.

ridge skiing at breckenridge

Lake Chutes from Peak 8 Summit with the Imperial Express in background

Proximity to Denver & I-70

From the airport and without traffic, you could be skiing in 2 hours. Now lets be honest, I-70 is a menace, especially on the weekend, so give yourself an extra two hour cushion in the off-chance that everyone wants to ski at the same time you do (sarcasm). Once you’re in town, though, you can kick back a little bit and put the car away. The town has a lovely free bus system to cart your sea-level legs around town and, if you’re staying in town, there is a gondola that will pick you up from town to avoid the extra drive up the mountain.

The “It” Factor

As mentioned earlier, Breckenridge is the place for out-of-town skiers to visit. The logo is cool, the chances for a sweet shirt are high, and everyone and their mother have heard of it. The mountain’s consolidation into Vail Resort’s ecosystem only helped launch their name into more homes and now with the help of EpicMix, Vail Resort’s comprehensive service and app for mountain info, photos, on-mountain races and personal stats, you can take a little slice of memorabilia everywhere you go. Just look for the bright green jackets around the mountain and have your mug professionally taken with the sweeping Colorado Rockies in the background for your next living room photo or Hinge profile pic. Then zoom down the hill and grab a beer on the sunny patio while you watch all the other ant-sized skiers mosey down the slope, trying to see if it was indeed your brother that just yard-saled on a very flat green run.

The Case Against:


Holy mother of human beings. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving but standing in a lift line at Breckenridge on a holiday weekend can feel like camping outside a Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, FL, patiently waiting for that screaming deal to outfit your home with ten TVs. When you’ve paid $180 (or less) for one day, it’s hard to stomach waiting in line for over 45 minutes. Sure, you could escape the lines by just skiing harder terrain, but for many that’s not an option. Now let’s assume you’re coming from Denver. Then what? If you leave your house or hotel at 8am on Saturday you’re screwed. You might not see the resort until 11:30 then to wait in line for almost an hour just to ski one run? You might ski two runs before sending your cortisol levels to unhealthy highs. Unless you’re a masochist, this isn’t very fun.

Generally Flat Terrain

If you do decide to head to the upper elevations for steep terrain, prepare for a lot of work for a little reward. The steeps along the ridge are truly steep and can deliver some of the best turns of your life, but just know you’re in for a hike along the windiest ridge Mother Nature has ever created even on what appears to be Colorado’s most beautiful blue-bird day in history. Zip your jacket up and hang on. Until you sink into waist deep powder, it’s going to be a bumpy and cold ride.
If you’re not down for the extreme terrain, the bottom half of the mountain is unpleasantly flat and littered with green and blue runs earning the nickname “breckenflats”. Then once you reach the bottom you’re back to our favorite world-record-sized-snake lift lines at the base. Maybe it’s time for another beer.

To Ski or Not to Ski?

So this holiday season ask yourself what is most important. Is it the photos, social clout, merchandise, Colorado views, and a chance to just get out of the city for a while? Then maybe Breck is your spot. Or are you looking for an authentic ski experience with a chance to make some good turns, keep some of your sanity, and keep your bank account healthy? If you are, maybe look elsewhere. Luckily you don’t even need to leave the state (or even county) to find such a place. More on that later. Happy skiing!

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