Travel planning these days is a bit like hopping into a game of double Dutch jump rope. One rope the pandemic, the other climate change. We managed to hit it about right from the pandemic standpoint, fully vaccinated and before the Delta and Omicron surges. We’d planned to escape Austin’s notoriously sweltering hot and humid July but were met with hotter than usual temperatures in Colorado, though without the humidity of Austin. At least it cools down at night in Colorado and the mountain scenery ignites the happy place in my soul.
With recent CDC guidelines dropping the indoor mask mandate for 75% of Americans, many are eager to come out of sheltering in place and start mapping out some fun summer plans. Included in this story are some of our favorite mountain spots to consider in Colorado along with some helpful tips woven in to make the most of your trip. (Finish reading the rest of my story on Johnnyjet.com here.)
Breckenridge, CO Don’t put your skis or snowboard away just yet. Two feet of fresh powder just hit the Summit County. And Breckenridge Ski Resort is open at least through April 24th. Spring skiing doesn’t get more ideal than this. Breck is more than a massive ski resort, it’s a town. Like so many Colorado ski spots, its colorful history is rooted in mining from a century ago. Breck offers skiers 6 peaks (almost 3000 acres) in one resort. There’s more to do than take advantage of quintessential awesome Rocky Mountain snow on skis or a board. It’s so big it might seem daunting at first to know what’s not to miss. I recently visited with my 9-yr old son, Ames and compiled our top ten Family Best of Breck Tips.
1) Best Digs for Convenience You can’t beat Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center. Located at the base of Peak 9 Super Chair, away the more crowded Peak 8. With a multitude of room options, you’re likely to find a vacancy to fit any size group. Ski lockers are situated just steps from the lift.
Tip: Store your boots in your hotel room and walk down in shoes you can leave in your locker. The locker room is semi-heated but not warm enough to keep ski boots (especially brand new ones.) Let my bruised foot serve as reminder of what happens when you try and shove your foot into a cold, stiff ski boot. It took the aid of two men in what felt like the opposite of the Jaws of Life to get my ski boots on. Ouch! When you’re staying right on the slopes, it’s nice to stay put and cook in your room (ours had a full kitchen) or grab a pizza from the Skywalk Market and enjoy in the comfort of your lodge. Treat yourself to Beaver Run’s Spencer’s restaurant for breakfast. The Southwest Eggs Benedict with chipotle hollandaise sauce warmed the palate and the belly.
2) Best Room with a View Perched a mile up and on the other side of town is The Lodge at Breckenridge with stunning, panoramic views. A dedicated lodge van shuttles guests into town or to the slopes. The Lodge’s Traverse Restaurant serves up a complimentary hearty breakfast buffet. We opted to avoid the crowds in town and had dinner there too.
3) Best endorphin high The Gold Runner Alpine Coaster is a must do year-round in Breck. In Winter, dress in your ski garb with hat and gloves as you’ll be whizzing down 2,500 feet of coaster track through the forest at breakneck speed (or slower if you prefer, as you control your two-seater coaster car).
4) Best peak to avoid crowds They saya black diamond (advanced) run at Breck is a blue (intermediate) at other resorts. Knowing this, we looked at the trail map and ventured over to Peak 10. With only black runs, it intimidated the masses, leaving the groomed blacks practically all to ourselves. Still nursing injuries from an auto wreck, we found Peak 10s “expert runs” pretty confident-boosting.
5) Best family-friendly ski spot New for this year is a slower-paced Bonanza Family Zone where you won’t have to worry about your little one being mowed over by more aggressive-paced skiers/boarders.
6) Best place to be a kid There are plenty of kid-friendly tree skiing spots where adults must be accompanied by a child. Keep your eyes peeled for Bigfoot!
7) Best people watching The Vista Haus Restaurant on Peak 8 has ample outdoor seating right by an Epic Mix Photo station where you can sip hot cocoa and watch the parade of people pose for photos. All photos snapped by an Epic Mix photographer are linked to your ski pass (via RFID). Simply use the Epic Mix app to share on Facebook with friends.
8) Best Fest Breck is one big series of festivals with one going on almost every week of the year. As luck would have it, we happened to visit during the Ice sculpture fest. And if you catch the town in between formal fests, you can still revel in its year-round festive vibe.
9) Best local deal Colorado K-5th graders score big at Vail Resorts’ Epic School Kids Pass offering 4 days free at each of the Vail resorts in Colorado including Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek plus one never-ever full day group lesson (includes equipment and lunch.) My third grader who is an avid skier took advantage of a never-ever snowboarding lesson at Breck with some of his buddies.
10) Best time to visit Now. Lodging and lift tickets are at bargain prices. So load up the car or hop a flight. It’ll be the best thing you’ve done for yourself this Spring.