The Snows of Summit County: Breckenridge


Breckenridge

As soon as you head west of Denver on Interstate 70, the scenery transforms. Steel and concrete morph into pine and granite, and the front range of the Rockies fills the windshield. WATCH FOR WILDLIFE, cautions a yellow sign; bighorn sheep, pushed from the peaks by heavy snows, casually gaze through a curlicue of horn at the cars streaming by.

By the time you reach Dillon 60 miles later, you’ve nearly climbed to the roof of the Rockies. Summit County sidles up against the Continental Divide, spiked with peaks and elevations that range from 8,000 to 14,000 feet. Its ample dry snows, top-notch ski areas and picturesque resort towns—all linked by the free Summit Stage bus system—make this region a no-brainer for winter sports fans.

Fifteen miles southwest of Keystone, Breckenridge seems to have been plucked from a snow globe. Flakes drift down on a Main Street lined with brightly painted cabins and steep-pitched Victorians, now filled with restaurants, shops and galleries. The Blue River gurgles under pedestrian bridges and a snowy massif, etched with ski runs, rises right from town.

Prospectors flowed into this 9,600-foot-high outpost in the mid-1800s, bushwhacking their way up river drainages as they panned for gold. They hit pay dirt, including the largest gold nugget ever found in Colorado. “Tom’s Baby” weighed more than 13 pounds; the miner swaddled it in blankets like an infant on the way into town.

Of course, it was snow, not gold, that turned out to be this town’s greatest fortune. Today Breckenridge anchors the nation’s second most-visited ski resort (after Vail). The resort stretches across 4 peaks and seems to expand every year. Its south end, Peak 10, skirts the town; the north end, Peaks 7 and 8, sits higher, linked to town by the free BreckConnect gondola.

Some call Breckenridge “the gentle giant” for its gradual slopes; indeed, many will find the intermediate runs here quite tame. But advanced skiers and riders will find plenty of pitch in the bowls accessed from the nation’s highest chairlift on Peak 8, which tops out at 12,998 feet. Breck’s renowned terrain parks and pipes—considered some of the best in the country—ramp up the challenge, with an array of boxes, rails, kickers and other features that seem to go on forever. And everyone can enjoy Breck’s stunning serrated scenery, looking across to the Continental Divide scraping at the sky.

Even if you never intend to get on a chairlift, Breckenridge dishes up plenty of entertainment, which makes it the best base for a Summit County vacation. Take a thrill ride on the Gold Runner Coaster, where two-person sleds on rails twist wildly downhill. At the Breckenridge Nordic Center below Peak 8, some 30 kilometers of trails wind through old-growth pines, across meadows and to overlooks with postcard views of the Ten Mile Range.

In town, there’s great dining at every turn, from reliable stalwarts like the South Ridge Seafood Grill to newcomers like Ember and Twist. The Arts District is home to a growing number of galleries and art classes. Sign on with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance for a walking tour—the town has more than 250 historic structures—or a snowshoe tour of gold-mining sites.

And be sure to check out the Breckenridge Welcome Center. Its great little history museum reveals Breckenridge “firsts,” including the nation’s first half-pipe and the first ski resort in the world to allow snowboarding. Clearly, Breckenridge recognizes a gold mine.

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Skiing at an RCI affiliated resort in Colorado


Skiing at an RCI affiliated resort in Colorado

 

Skiing at an RCI affiliated resort in Colorado

- John S. from Isle of Palms, SC

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Colorado Vacations - Wyndham Pagosa


Bordered by 2.3 million acres of the San Juan National Forest, Wyndham Pagosa is a complete recreational community located in the mountains of southwestern Colorado. Tennis courts; a golf course; and a recreational center, featuring an indoor pool, a weight room, games room, and racquetball courts, are all nearby. In winter, a daily shuttle to the Wolf Creek ski area is offered. Cross-country skiing with rental equipment is also available. Please note: The resort is at high altitude. Learn about high-altitude sickness to prevent the problems associated with this illness.

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Park City, Utah – A true, four season destination


Dan "The RCI Guy" - Vacation Travels with RCI TV's Dan "The RCI Guy"I've been lucky over the years... I've lived in some of the most beautiful states in the country. When I was young I lived in Northern California, then we moved to Alaska. I've also lived in Colorado and Connecticut and I've had a job that has taken me to all 50 states... numerous times. Having said that, I think I now live in the best state of all...Utah! You can literally go skiing in the morning and play golf that same afternoon. I love it! And while there are cool cities and towns everywhere in Utah, you have to visit Park City!

Park City is the perfect place - there are three ski resorts within just a few miles of each other - The Canyons, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. Each has won their share of International awards. One of the things I love about Park City is its easy access. There is a 6 lane freeway (I-80) that runs right past it and you can actually fly into Salt Lake City International airport and be at any of these resorts within 45 minutes.

Park City has just the right mix of locals and tourists. If you like to shop there is a huge outlet mall out by the freeway exit as well and another shopping center less than a mile away that has new cinemas, the latest stores and good restaurants, too. But the best part of Park City is "Historic Main Street". Park City was built up during the 19th century as a mining town and many of the earliest original buildings are still a part of Main Street. Main Street has a little bit of everything... really unique shops and stores selling everything from your typical souvenirs to high-end furs. There are great art galleries and lots of really quaint, local restaurants, diners, coffee shops and ice cream stores. The one thing you won't find on Main Street is any kind of a chain store or restaurant - I absolutely love it.

Park City is a true, four season destination. I live about 45 minutes away and we play in Park City year round. I grew up in Alaska so I definitely like to hit the slopes during the winter. But I also love photography and, during the spring, the mountains and meadows burst with color as a result of all the spring flowers. During the summer we've enjoyed everything from hot air balloon rides to great rounds of golf and lots of outdoor concerts. Fall in Park City is amazing as all the leaves change colors and everything is blazing in oranges, reds, yellows and greens. This is the time of year that we typically use some of our Points and exchange through RCI to stay at any of their affiliated resorts - we really like The Miners Club at The Canyons.

If you like amazing natural beauty with the fun and sophistication of a classy resort town proud of its history and heritage, you will LOVE Park City.  And besides...it seems like the air is always clean and crisp and the sun a little brighter up here. If you haven't been to Park City you really should check it out... and if you have been here, well... I know you'll be back!

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited Park City. Be sure to come back to read about their adventures!

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Perfect Snow in Steamboat Springs, CO


Our trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado in January 2009 was the best start to the new year for us. Our adult kids decided they too wanted to go, so we booked a week in a three bedroom suite. It was fabulous! The resort was beautiful (especially at night) and very convenient to the slopes, as we just walked across the street to board the shuttle and in less than 10 minutes, we were at the mountain. The kids had the best time of their lives and will never forget the trip. They still talk about Steamboat having the perfect snowflakes...I'm not kidding when I say that we had perfect weather the week we were there as it snowed every day. The kids boarded everyday except one, opting for a snow play day! They built a fort and messed around and just had fun! We ski, so we were up on the mountain every other day (age, I guess??). This is the second time our kids opted to go on a vacation with us since we bought ownership with Wyndham Vacation Resorts almost three years ago, making both those trips more memorable than anything. We can really have a terrific time with them when we are away from all the stresses of living. We are just getting ready to book our next ski trip and the kids are asking "Where are we going this time?"

- Susan B. from Fullerton, CA
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Canada Ski Trip


A few years back I decided that I wanted to take a last minute ski trip with a friend and my two adult sons. We wanted to go to Colorado, but could not find a match that would work. I stumbled across an opportunity to try a small ski resort in Canada called Panorama in British Columbia. It was a small resort in size, but because of that size it was wonderful. In the evening everyone from guests to staff ended up at the same place for dinner and entertainment. The athomosphere was great and the lifts were not crowded. The best ski trip I have had.

- Mike R. from Gulf Shores, AL
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Ski Season has Begun!


Kathleen M. - RCI Subscribing Member Travel StoriesIt’s that time of year again…it’s getting colder each day, we are wearing our heavier coats and some of us have already had our first snowfall! And in the customer support department here at RCI, I have to say it is also an exciting time. Every day, I hear members calling to make exchanges for resorts where they can enjoy a ski vacation. It’s even more moving when I hear back from members who tell me about their first black diamond experience or that their kids learned how to ski for the very first time at a resort we helped them exchange into.

This week, we’ll be featuring stories and pictures from members about their ski vacations in places like Austria, Canada, and Colorado. Be sure to check back!
 

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Mt. Hood Oregon 2007


Our family really enjoys snow skiing so after our son started college in 2007, we found it harder to find a common date that he and our high school age daughter could travel at the same time. While the resorts around Colorado would be closer for us, December is about the only time they are both out of school so we travelled to Mt. Hood, Oregon, hoping to have enough snow in Dec. by going further north.

Enough snow is an understatement! We had a wonderful time at the resort in Welches. And we really enjoy being able to ski different parts of the country. We have been skiing 7 times (from New Mexico to Oregon) and never the same place twice. We have a trip planned for Whitefish, MT next Christmas season. It's also a good way to get your college age son to still take a family vacation with you!

- Rhonda J. from West Monroe, LA
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