The sky-high town of Breckenridge, perched 9,600 feet above sea level, sits in the midst of Colorado’s most stunning alpine scenery. The ski resorts are considered among the finest in the United States, and making successful runs down double blacks like the Windows (Peak 9) and Beyond Bowl (Peak 6) are a key post-trip bragging points for expert skiers. But the charming town offers plenty more beyond all that go-go-glorious pow-pow, from dozens of outdoor winter activities to a historic main street and elevated dining scene. Become a true Breck insider by ticking these ten items off your must-do list.
Go Dog Sledding
Race through the snow in a sled, pulled by a team of Siberian Huskies, just as people in colder climates did for hundreds of years. It’s exhilarating, exciting, and often called a one-in-a-lifetime experience. Several companies offer rides in the area, most notably Good Times Adventures, which runs a six-mile tour along the winding trails of the Swan River Valley, and allows up to six people to learn how to properly “mush,” (a command to the dogs generally meaning “go!”), trade off places to work with the dogs, and tag along on a snowmobile to shoot plenty of action photos too. It’s also a great way to see the surrounding forests of Breckenridge.
Explore the Surroundings in Snowshoes
There’s simply so much beautiful terrain to discover around Breckenridge that striking out on a trail clad in snowshoes is a must. Many outfitters in town rent atlas or crescent moon snowshoes, and there’s the option of guided tours or solo walks. For example, the Breckenridge Nordic Center offers 1,400 acres of carefully groomed trails, and the Gold Run Nordic Center, on the north side of town, provides over 2,000 acres of beginner, intermediate, and expert trails. For the latter, time your visit with a full moon and you can join an after-dark snowshoe tour with the lunar light as your guide.
Cruise Down Boreas Pass Road
Drink in the scenery with a leisurely drive down Boreas Pass Road, a stunning 20-mile route that follows the Pacific Railroad line and ascends from Breckenridge to the apex of the Continental Divide, at 11,481 ft. Do beware that the road can be icy during the winter months, though. But if driving conditions are safe, this scenic road trip is unmissable and there’s several heritage railway stops along the way. Don’t forget your camera!
Down a Stiff Drink of…Oxygen?
As Breckenridge has a base elevation of 9,600 feet and a summit elevation of 12,998 feet, altitude sickness is a possibility during your visit. But there’s a relaxing way to alleviate—or help prevent—this condition. Just head to the bar. The Oxygen Bar, that is. It’s exactly what it sounds like: just pull up a bar stool and breathe in some fresh, oxygen. The O2 Lounge provides 15-, 30-, and 45-minute sessions of air with around 90 percent oxygen, pumped to stations around the bar where you can sip coffee, tea, or a “Dr. Smoothie” smoothie. It’s recommended that you visit 24 to 48 hours after you arrive to help maintain your blood oxygen levels at a higher level and to help avoid the effects of the altitude, like dizziness, headaches, muscle aches, or nausea. No matter what your specific needs are, it’s a feel-good.
Visit the World’s Highest Distillery
For an actual drink, head to the Breckenridge Distillery, which bills itself as the world’s highest distillery. The Airport Road location is their main locale, however, there’s a small tasting room on Main Street that’s easily accessible too. Their specialty is bourbon, where Breck’s mineral-rich snowmelt water is a key ingredient in the distillation process, but they also infuse vodka and rum. Go for a tour and a tasting; the distinctive bottles also make great souvenirs.
Try Your Hand at Custom-Blending Wine
If you prefer wine, the Continental Divide Winery in downtown Breckenridge—also the world’s highest winery—offers the chance to indulge in tastings, tours, and vintner experiences, the best of which is a wine-blending class. During the session, you can create your own personalized blend from five renowned local wines, plus leave with a bottle of your custom-made wine. You can even order a case of your one-of-a-kind creation sent to your home for later.
Read More: A Dining Guide to Breckenridge, Colorado
Test Your Luck Ice Fishing for an Elusive Cold-Water Fish
Few realize that Breckenridge’s lakes contain a fish typically only found in places such as Alaska, Scandinavia, or the Alps—that’s the Arctic char. And fishing for this tasty treat on one of Summit County’s mountain-ringed waterways like Lake Dillion can be a surreal experience, especially if snow is falling. Bonus points if you can land an Arctic char, otherwise there’s salmon and several varieties of trout out there too. First-timer? Book an ice fishing tour with a respected guide from Big Ed’s Fishing Ventures or Alpine Fishing Adventures to try your hand at the sport.
Experience Hot Air Ballooning Year-Round
Take in the Rocky Mountains while floating peacefully through the air. Views can range up to 100 panoramic miles, and might include peeks of the Continental Divide, Mt. Elbert (the highest peak in Colorado, at 14,433 ft), the Sangre De Cristo mountains, native wildlife, and much more. And yes, balloon trips are still offered in wintertime; at times, a temperature inversion occurs raises temperatures 30 to 40 degrees warmer in the air than on the ground. Colorado Hot Air Balloon Mountain Flights and Grand Adventure Balloon Tours each offer flights.
Take a Ride on the Breckenridge Gold Runner Alpine Coaster
Pending especially harsh weather and copious snow removal, nothing stops Breckenridge’s Gold Runner Alpine Coaster, which starts at the top of Peak 8 and dips and twists around and above the skin runs and through the trees all year long. There’s about 2,500 feet of track, and the intimate two-seaters even allow you to control your speed through the twists. (Though you can’t derail, so for an extra thrill, step on the accelerator!)
Plan A Trip Around the Inspiring Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Championships
If you’re lucky enough to be in Breck during January 21-30, 2019, prepare to be completely blown away by the artistry of the Annual International Snow Sculpture Championship, now in it’s 29th year. During the event, teams hand-carve 25-ton blocks of snow into enormous yet intricate sculptures—which takes countless hours, as no power tools are allowed. The result is a temporary frozen gallery in downtown Breckenridge. Last year’s winner was “Secret,” an awe-inspiring piece that depicted a representation of a secret keepers chest.