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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Colorado: A Great Surprise!


Jenny DBefore my parents-in-law moved to Colorado, I had never visited the state, and believed that the only thing people did there was ski. So when my husband and I planned our first trip to visit his parents a few years ago, I was not very enthusiastic (seeing as my favorite vacation spot is the beach!). Since that first visit, we’ve been back to Colorado many times, and each time there is something new and so very different from my home-state of NJ, that I now very much look forward to our visits.

Once, we visited a little amusement park called Santa’s Workshop, built into the slopes of the Pikes Peak mountain range (that was certainly a first for me).  And don’t be fooled by the name! It is a Christmas-themed amusement park and open from mid-May until December 24. On another visit, we spent time at the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center, an amazing up-close encounter with rescued wolves of all types and sizes, who even treat you to a serenade at the end of your walking tour! And although I’d never imagined standing next to a rock the height of a skyscraper, I was amazed at the beauty of the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center. The stunning views were like something I’d only seen on the National Geographic channel!

All in all, Colorado has now become a favorite place to visit, and I always leave having seen or learned something interesting and new – and very different from my East Coast roots.

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have traveled to Colorado. Come back and take a look!

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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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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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Awestruck in Steamboat Springs, CO


RCI Technology UpdatesAs a child and teenager, my family went on ski vacations to Colorado almost every winter.  After graduating college, I even took a job in Colorado and lived there for a while.  Yet, somehow, I’d never made it to Steamboat Springs.

This fall, I finally had the chance to visit Steamboat and it totally lives up to the hype of the quintessential ski town (or “snowboard town” if you’re like me). There is a charming downtown with lots of shops and so many restaurants.  There is even a little feel of “the old west.” And the views are just amazing…I couldn’t help but be in constant awe of the beautiful mountains.

You can fly directly into Steamboat but I chose to fly into Denver and make the drive – Colorado is just so gorgeous I wanted to soak it all in.  I stayed right on the mountain – ski in/ski out – and it was perfect.  The units were nice, clean and comfortable and the staff was so friendly. The mountain wasn’t open yet, but while I was visiting they got their first snowfall of the year…it’s really a magical feeling!

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have also experienced the magic of Steamboat Springs. Be sure to check back!

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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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