Skiing & Other Winter Activities
Breckenridge and Keystone ski areas are now part of Vail Resorts, and any lift ticket purchased at Vail or Beaver Creek is valid without restriction at Breckenridge and Keystone (and Arapahoe Basin). However, only multiday lift tickets for 3 or more days purchased at Breckenridge or Keystone are also valid at Vail and Beaver Creek.
Beyond the major resorts listed here, snowboarders and beginners might want to check out Echo Mountain Park, near Idaho Springs (tel. 303/325-7347; www.echomtnpark.com), a dinky and inexpensive area with one lift and a focus on terrain parks.
Snowboarding is permitted at all local resorts.
Arapahoe Basin -- Arapahoe Basin, 28194 U.S. 6, between Keystone and Loveland Pass, is one of Colorado's oldest ski areas, having opened in 1946. Several features make Arapahoe exceptional: Most of its 900 skiable acres are intermediate and expert terrain, much of it above timberline; it expanded to the new, wide-open slopes of Montezuma Bowl in January 2008; its longest run is 1 1/2 miles; and it receives an average of 367 inches of snow a year and is frequently one of the last Colorado ski areas to close for the season -- often not until mid-June. It usually opens in early November. Arapahoe offers a 2,270-foot vertical drop from its summit at 13,050 feet. It is served by two triple and three double chairs plus a conveyor. The mountain rates its 105 trails as 10% beginner, 30% intermediate, 37% advanced, and 23% expert.
Lift tickets during peak season cost $65 for adults, $52 for youths 15 to 19, $28 for children 6 to 14, $55 for seniors 60 to 69, $15 per day for seniors 70 and older, and free for children under 6. For information, including a snow report, contact Arapahoe Basin, P.O. Box 8787, Keystone, CO 80435 (tel. 888/272-7246 or 970/496-0718; www.arapahoebasin.com).
Breckenridge -- Spread across four large mountains on the west side of the town of Breckenridge, this area ranks third in size among Colorado's ski resorts. Once known for its wealth of open, groomed beginner and intermediate slopes, Breckenridge in recent years has expanded its acreage for expert skiers as well.
Peak 8, the original ski mountain, is the highest of the four at 12,998 feet and has the greatest variety. Peak 9, heavily geared to novices and intermediates, rises above the principal base area. Peak 10, served by a single high-speed quad chair, is predominantly expert territory. The vast bowls of Peak 8 and the North Face of Peak 9 are likewise advanced terrain. There are restaurants high on Peaks 8, 9, and 10 and three cafeterias at the base of the slopes. Peak 7 is a double black-diamond challenge on over 1,200 feet of vertical drop.
All told, the resort has 2,208 skiable acres, with 146 trails, including Four O'Clock, the longest, at 3 1/2 miles! The resort rates its trails as 15% beginner, 33% intermediate, and 52% expert and advanced. There are 28 lifts -- two high-speed six-passenger chairs, seven high-speed quads, one triple chair, six double chairs, four surface lifts, and eight carpet lifts. A gondola connecting the north side of town with Peak 7 and Peak 8 opened for the 2007-08 ski season. Vertical drop is 3,398 feet from a summit of 12,998 feet; average annual snowfall is 300 inches (25 ft.).
Lift tickets during peak season (2007-08 prices) cost $86 for adults, $45 for children 5 to 12, $76 for seniors 65 to 69, and are free for children 4 and younger and seniors 70 and older. Tickets purchased at Breckenridge are also valid at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, and multiday tickets for 3 or more days are also valid at Vail and Beaver Creek.
Among Breckenridge's programs are its women's ski seminars, taught exclusively by women for women skiers of all abilities. Three- and four-day seminars are offered in January, February, March, and April. Women-only ski-school classes are available throughout the ski season. For more information, call tel. 888/576-2754. For snowboarders, the Breckenridge Superpipe is a delight. This half-pipe has a 15-degree slope, 15-foot-high walls, and 17-foot transitions.
Breckenridge is usually open from mid-November to mid-May daily from 8:30am to 4pm. For further information, contact Breckenridge Ski Resort, P.O. Box 1058, Breckenridge, CO 80424 (tel. 800/789-7669, 970/453-5000, or 970/453-6118 for snow conditions; www.breckenridge.snow.com). From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, the alpine slide is in operation, and the trails are open to mountain bikers; minigolf is also available. Call for off-season hours and chairlift schedule.
Copper Mountain -- From Copper Mountain village, the avalanche chutes on the west face of Ten Mile Mountain seem to spell out the word ski. Though this is a natural coincidence, locals like to say the mountain has terrain created for skiing.
Terrain is about half beginner and intermediate, with the rest ranging from advanced to "you'd better be really good." The area has a vertical drop of 2,601 feet from a peak elevation of 12,313 feet. There are 2,433 skiable acres and 125 trails served by 22 lifts -- one high-speed six-person chair, four high-speed quads, five triple chairs, five double chairs, two surface lifts, four conveyors, and one tubing zone lift. Average annual snowfall is 280 inches. Copper Mountain has two terrain parks. Big floater jumps are spread out across an entire run, with proper takeoff and landing ramps; there's a regulation half-pipe, and several drainage and gladed runs have been thinned to provide challenging tree riding for more advanced snowboarders.
There are three restaurants on the mountain and several more in the base village. Also at the base are 16 miles of cross-country track, a tubing hill, and a full-service racquet and athletic club.
Lift tickets (2007-08 prices) during the peak season cost $69 for adults, $34 for children 6 to 13, and $59 for seniors 65 to 69. Tickets are free for seniors 70 and older and children 5 and under.
Copper Mountain is usually open from early November to mid-April, Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8:30am to 4pm. For information, contact Copper Mountain Resort, P.O. Box 3001, Copper Mountain, CO 80443 (tel. 866/841-2481; www.coppercolorado.com). For reservations, call tel. 888/219-2441; for a snow report, call tel. 800/789-7609.
Keystone -- Keystone is actually three separate mountains, offering a variety of terrain. And the resort is one of the best spots for night skiing in America, open daily from 8:30am until 8pm.
From its peak elevation of 12,200 feet, Keystone's vertical drop is 3,128 feet. It's three interconnected mountains offer 2,870 acres of skiing, 117 trails (17 open for night skiing), and 19 lifts -- including two connecting high-speed gondolas, a high-speed six-person chair, five high-speed quads, one quad, one triple, four doubles, one surface lift, and four carpets. Average annual snowfall is 230 inches (about 19 ft.). Its trails are rated 12% beginner, 34% intermediate, and 54% expert and advanced.
For snowboarders, Keystone has 66 acres of terrain parks, including two half-pipes, which are lit for night riding.
Lift tickets during the peak season (2007-08 prices) cost $86 for adults, $45 for children 5 to 12, $76 for seniors 65 and older, and are free for children 4 and younger. Tickets purchased at Keystone are also valid at Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin, and multiday tickets for 3 or more days are also valid at Vail and Beaver Creek.
Excellent on-mountain dining is available at the Alpenglow Stube, located in the Outpost, a log-and-stone lodge atop North Peak (elevation 11,444 ft.). Access is via two scenic gondola rides.
Keystone is usually open from early November through mid-April. For further information, contact Keystone Resort, P.O. Box 38, Keystone, CO 80435 (tel. 800/468-5004 or 970/496-4386; www.keystone.snow.com). For snow reports, call tel. 800/404-3535 or 970/496-4111.
Loveland -- Just across the county line, on the east side of I-70's Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel, is Loveland Ski Area, P.O. Box 899, Georgetown, CO 80444 (tel. 800/736-3754 or 303/571-5580; www.skiloveland.com). Comprising Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley, it was created in the late 1930s by a Denver ski club wanting to take advantage of the area's heavy snowfall (400 in., more than 33 ft., annually). You can still see the original rope-tow cabins from 1942, when all-day tickets cost $2. Inflation (and the cost of many improvements) has taken a toll, but this is one of the best deals in the area. Today tickets during the skiing season cost $44 to $56 for adults, $42 for seniors 60 to 69, and $21 to $25 for children 6 to 14; children under 6 ski free, and seniors 70 and older are offered a season pass for $69.
There's good beginner-intermediate terrain on the 1,365 lift-served acres -- 13% and 41%, respectively, leaving 46% advanced. The vertical drop is 2,410 feet from a top elevation of 13,010 feet, and the longest run is 2 miles. Lifts include three quad chairs, two triples, three doubles, one surface lift, and one tow. Loveland's terrain parks offer natural half-pipes and big powder-filled bowls.
The resort usually opens in mid-October and remains open daily through May.
Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing
The Frisco Nordic Center, at 18454 Colo. 9, south of Frisco (tel. 970/668-0866; www.breckenridgenordic.com), sits on the shores of Dillon Reservoir. Its trail network includes 27 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. The lodge has a snack bar and a shop with rentals and retail sales; instruction and backcountry and snowshoe tours are also offered. From the Frisco Nordic Center, you can ski to the Breckenridge Nordic Center, on Willow Lane near the foot of Peak 8 (tel. 970/453-6855; www.breckenridgenordic.com), with its own series of 19 miles of groomed trails. The two operations share 12 miles of snowshoe trails and 3 miles of snowshoe trails where leashed dogs are welcome. One trail pass ($15 for adults, $10 for seniors and children) covers both Nordic centers, and rental equipment is available. The Gold Run Nordic Center at the Breckenridge Golf Club, 200 Club House Dr. (tel. 970/547-7889), charges identical rates and features more than 14 miles of groomed trails, from beginner to advanced, in addition to backcountry and snowshoe trails, and also offers rental equipment.
For additional information on these and other cross-country skiing centers, check out www.colorado-xc.org on the Web. There are also numerous cross-country skiing possibilities in the area's national forests; contact the Dillon Ranger District.
Warm-Weather & Year-Round Activities
The White River National Forest encompasses the boundaries of Summit County. This recreational playground offers opportunities not only for downhill and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter, but also for hiking and backpacking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, hunting, and bicycling in summer. White River National Forest includes the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and Green Mountain Reservoir, both in the northern part of the county.
The U.S. Forest Service's Dillon Ranger District, located in the town of Silverthorne at 680 River Pkwy. (Colo. 9), Silverthorne, CO 80498, about half a mile north of I-70 exit 205 (tel. 970/468-5400; www.fs.fed.us/r2), has an unusually good selection of information on outdoor recreation possibilities, including maps and guides to hiking and mountain-biking trails, jeep roads, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, and camping. You can also get information on a wide variety of outdoor activities from the Breckenridge Resort Chamber Welcome Center, 203 S. Main St. (tel. 877/864-0868).
There are more than 40 miles of paved bicycle paths in the county, including a path from Breckenridge (with a spur from Keystone) to Frisco and Copper Mountain, continuing across Vail Pass to Vail. This spectacularly beautiful two-lane path is off-limits to motorized vehicles.
Dillon Reservoir, a beautiful mountain lake along I-70 between Dillon and Frisco, is the place to go. Also called Lake Dillon, the 3,300-acre reservoir, which provides drinking water to Denver, is more than 200 feet deep in spots. At 9,017 feet elevation, it claims to have America's highest-altitude yacht club and holds colorful regattas most summer weekends. The popular Dillon Open, a huge sailboat race, occurs the first weekend in August. Swimming is not permitted.
The full-service Dillon Marina, 150 Marina Dr. (tel. 970/468-5100; www.dillonmarina.com), is open from the last weekend of May through the last weekend of October, offering boats for 2-hour, half-day, or full-day rentals; sailing instruction; and charter cruises. Half-day boat-rental fees run $170 for runabouts, $200 for 22-foot pontoon boats, and $380 for 25-foot pontoons. Fuel is extra. The half-day rate for 18- and 20-foot sailboats is $110, and more upscale 22-foot sailboats rent for $185 for a half-day. An 8-hour sailing class costs $275 per person, and the "sailing experience" 2-hour sailboat tour for novice sailors costs $60 per person. There are also a small store, repair shop, restaurant, and bar.
Major fishing rivers within an hour of Breckenridge include the South Platte, Arkansas, Eagle, Colorado, and Blue rivers, and for lake fishing, try Dillon Reservoir and Spinney Mountain Reservoir. The Blue River, from Lake Dillon Dam to its confluence with the Colorado River at Kremmling, is rated a gold-medal fishing stream. For tips on where they're biting, as well as supplies, fishing licenses, and all the rest, stop at Mountain Angler, 311 S. Main St., Breckenridge, in the Main Street Mall (tel. 800/453-4669 or 970/453-4665; www.mountainangler.com), which also offers year-round guide service. Guided fly-fishing wading trips, for two anglers, start at $265 for a half-day; $360 for a full day, including lunch. A full-day float-fishing guided trip for two anglers costs $400 to $450. Guided fly-fishing trips are also offered by The Adventure Company (tel. 800/497-7238; www.theadventurecompany.com) at similar rates.
Among area golf courses, which all boast wonderful scenery, are the 27-hole Breckenridge Golf Club, 200 Clubhouse Dr., Breckenridge (tel. 970/453-9104; www.breckenridgegolfclub.com), the only municipal course designed by Jack Nicklaus anywhere, with greens fee of $57 to $104 for 18 holes, cart not included; Copper Creek Golf Club, 104 Wheeler Place, Copper Mountain Resort (tel. 970/968-3333), among the highest 18-hole courses in North America, at 9,752 feet, with fees of $39 to $99, including cart, for 18 holes; Raven at Three Peaks, 2929 N. Golden Eagle Rd., Silverthorne (tel. 970/262-3636), new in 2008 and charging $35 to $149 for 18 holes, cart included; Keystone Ranch Golf Course, 1239 Keystone Ranch Rd., Keystone (tel. 970/496-4250), charging $85 to $140, including a cart, for 18 holes; and the par-71 River Course at Keystone, 155 River Course Dr., Keystone (tel. 970/496-4444), which also charges $85 to $140, including cart, for 18 holes.
Hiking & Backpacking
The Colorado Trail cuts a swath through Summit County. It enters from the east across Kenosha Pass, follows the Swan River to its confluence with the Blue River, then climbs over Ten Mile Mountain to Copper Mountain. The trail then turns south toward Tennessee Pass, north of Leadville. Contact the Colorado Trail Foundation, American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th St., #210, Golden, CO 80401 (tel. 303/384-3729; www.coloradotrail.org).
In addition, there are myriad hiking opportunities in the national forests. Consult the U.S. Forest Service, the Breckenridge Resort Chamber Activity Center, or a visitor information center for maps and details.
For some spectacular views of this area from atop a horse, take a ride with Breckenridge Stables, located just above the Beaver Run ski lift on Village Road (tel. 970/453-4438; www.breckstables.com). The company offers rides of about 90 minutes, plus breakfast rides, for $55 per person (half-price for children 6 and under). Reservations should be made at least 1 day in advance.
Numerous trails are available for mountain bikers. Energetic fat-tire fans can try the Devil's Triangle, a difficult 80-mile loop that begins and ends in Frisco after climbing four mountain passes (including 11,318-ft. Fremont Pass). Check with the U.S. Forest Service or Breckenridge Resort Chamber Activity Center for directions and tips on other trails; for mountain bikers who prefer to not work so hard, check with the Breckenridge Resort Chamber Activity Center on times and costs for taking your bike up the mountain on the Breckenridge chairlift.
Clinics, including instructional guided rides, are offered by several local companies, including Ripstoke Mountain Bike School (tel. 303/818-3158; www.ripstoke.com), Colorado Ski and Bike Tours (tel. 970/668-8900; www.coloradobikeandski.com), and Babes in the Backcountry (tel. 970/453-4060; www.babesinthebackcountry.com). One-day clinics usually run around $150.
Among the companies providing bike rentals and information is Lone Star Sports, at 200 W. Washington St., Breckenridge (tel. 800/621-9733 or 970/453-2003; www.skilonestar.com), which charges full-day rates of $15 to $27.
Trips through the white water of the Blue River -- which runs through Breckenridge to Frisco -- as well as longer journeys on the Colorado and Arkansas rivers, are offered by various companies, including KODI Rafting (tel. 877/747-7238; www.whitewatercolorado.com), Good Times Rafting Company (tel. 800/808-0357; www.goodtimesrafting.com), Performance Tours Rafting (tel. 800/328-7238; www.performancetours.com), and The Adventure Company (tel. 800/497-7238; www.theadventurecompany.com), all based in Breckenridge. Rates for half-day trips on the Blue River cost about $40 to $50 for adults and $30 to $40 for children. Full-day trips on other area rivers are about $75 to $100 for adults and $65 to $80 for kids.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.