The Snows of Summit County: Copper Mountain


Copper Mountain

Wedged between behemoths Vail and Breckenridge, Copper Mountain is favored by Denverites but is still a sleeper to much of North America. Once you ski or ride there, you’ll hope it stays that way. Lovely fall-line cruisers go on forever, fringed with glades and powder stashes. High-alpine bowls crown the peaks like rough-cut diamonds.

Like the old ad slogan, Copper Mountain just tries harder. A well-designed network of high-speed lifts makes it easy to move around the mountain. Beginner and intermediate runs are impeccably groomed, as is the 22-foot half-pipe, the new Olympic standard. On weekends, a snowcat offers rides—free with a valid lift ticket!—up double-diamond Tucker Mountain.

At the end of the day, skiers and riders glide seamlessly onto sundecks that skirt the entire base. Copper Mountain doesn’t really qualify as a town—it has Frisco for that, 6 miles down the road—but it exudes a happy vibe, with live music, bonfires, festivals and torchlight parades. It quickly feels like a friendly community, where you wave and smile at newly familiar faces.

That makes Copper great for families. Along with its tubing hill and terrain parks, the resort offers loads of programs for kids—all within walking distance—including pizza-making night at a pizzeria, Bricks 4 Kidz (LEGO activities) and the Cage, a teen lounge with table tennis and video games. Frisco’s Peninsula Recreation Area offers dinner sleigh rides, an acclaimed Nordic ski center and the Frisco Adventure Park, with tubing, a terrain park and a day lodge.

But good luck dragging your kids away from the indoor ski and snowboard training facility, Woodward at Copper. “The Barn” has trampolines, rails and synthetic-snow ramps that launch riders into giant pits filled with foam blocks—a good testing ground before trying tricks on snow. One-day camps and shorter sessions let participants learn at their own pace.

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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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Valdoro Mountain Lodge


In the summer of 2006 my family took a vacation to Breckenridge, CO. We took a side trip to see the Royal Gorge.

In the summer of 2006 my family took a vacation to Breckenridge, CO. We took a side trip to see the Royal Gorge.

- Joel L. from Lovettsville, VA
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Colorado Trip 2005


We went to Colorado to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We stayed in Breckenridge and Winter Park. The weather was beautiful. We saw a red fox at the resort in Winter Park and a huge buck laying under trees near the main road to Winter Park. The drive south from Winter Park is beautiful. We had a hot fudge sundae in the little town before the interstate. A memorable time for a special occasion.

- Steve and Joyce A. from Jonesborough, TN
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Try an RCI Timeshare Exchange for a Romantic Getaway


Jen V. - RCI Timeshare Exchanges and RCI.comI can't think of any better way to spend a vacation than with the person you love (or want to get to know better!).

Whether you’re sitting together in front of a fireplace in a Breckenridge ski resort, or lounging on a beach on your Myrtle Beach vacation, sharing a relaxing experience is a great way to not only get some down time, but to strengthen your relationship with your significant other.

I went on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with my boyfriend last year — our first vacation together, in fact — and had a great time. Cabo is one of those places that you can take your family, or just one person, and there's something for everyone. The place we stayed in had different pools for families and adults. Some restaurants were family friendly, and some were fancier, so they didn't have kids. At those places, we had dinner at our own little table on the beach, watched people play live music, and listened to the waves. And some nights, we just sat on our balcony, drinking wine and looking out at the ocean.

A couple years ago, I stayed in Snowbird, Utah for a resort vacation, but that was with my brother, which is hardly romantic. But I could see how it could have been for a couple in love. This was one of those cozy ski lodges where you can cuddle up by the fireplace with a glass of wine and some snacks. But again, there were several families, so there is something for everyone there too.

Of course, I know everyone has different tastes and wants a different vacation experience. RCI tries to provide this for you. Try out our improved search engine (I’m very excited about this – I’m on the Online Team). You can search for amenities and experiences, not just dates or locations, and see what places are available.

Say you want to find a spa or a ski vacation. Go to our search engine, set the filter to show only spa or ski vacation types, and see what locations and dates are open. You can be a little more specific and add additional filters for date ranges and geography. So if you only want skiing locations in February in the western US, if they're available, they'll show up in the search results. Then you can easily see additional information, photos and videos, and member reviews to figure out which site is just right for you and your special someone.

Now it’s your turn – what was your most memorable romantic getaway that you booked with RCI? Comment below and let us know.

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