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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Pagosa Springs Trip


We needed a week away, so reserved a Last CallSM vacation in Pagosa Springs. Although we've lived in Denver for more than 40 years, we had never been to that part of Colorado. We spent the week seeing the area, relaxing in the Pagosa Hot Springs, riding the train in Durango, and just relaxing at the condo.

The Pagosa Hot Springs have several pools with varying temperatures and beautiful views over the river. The train from Durango was an experience! We got a chance to see and feel what travelling in the 19th century was like. You smell the coal and feel and hear the "click, click" of the train as it wound through the beautiful scenery. The accommodations at Wyndham Pagosa were perfect for relaxation. Our unit was located on their golf course. We enjoyed interacting with the golfers, and (quietly) judging their shots.

Overall a great relaxing week.

-William L. from Parker, CO

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Florida Vacation


We went to Summer Bay Resort near Orlando, Florida and absolutely had the best time. My daughter and I took my 2 grandkids and we went to Walt Disney World. My grandson, Jordan, turned 4 while we were there and had a little birthday party at the resort. He had such a wonderful time. It rained almost everyday while we were there but we made a good trip out of it even with the rain. Summer Bay Resort was the most awesome place to stay and such a beautiful resort. We loved it so much that we are going back next month to celebrate my granddaughter's birthday as well. Her name is Taylor and she will be 2 years old. This trip was by far the best trip I have ever been on through RCI.

-Deborah M. from Denver, CO

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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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