Tips for President’s Day weekend in Breck

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So you’ve decided to get to Breck this holiday weekend.  What can you expect?  If you’re looking for a vacation comparable to FDR’s tenure or more along the lines of William Henry Harrison’s, here are some tips to make your visit run as smoothly as possible.

It’s not just a holiday weekend for you, it’s a holiday weekend for over 300 million people, some of whom will have the same thought as you: let’s go skiing!  Because of its awesome terrain, snow conditions, night life, and accessibility, Breckenridge will be on the radar for many.  So how do you make the most of it?

Plan ahead with rentals and tickets

You don’t have to be Thomas Jefferson to know a good deal.  You may not get a bargain as good as the Louisiana Purchase, but you can save some money by ordering your lift tickets in advance. If you order them online now, you’ll have to pick them up in person so hit the ticket office the afternoon you arrive instead of the next morning– the time you save will be well worth it.  Finally, remember that you can usually get your ski or snowboard rentals delivered to your door instead of throwing elbows at the rental shop in the morning.

Find the best terrain

flag on top of Peak 8
American Flag on top of Peak 8

If you hit the slopes at 10:30am, you may think you’re at an Obama inauguration (but with much less weeping).  Lifts open at 8:30am, so be ready to go and be like Ike – have a plan.  Consider getting off the gondola at Peak 7 to experience more of the resort and avoid the longer lines on Peak 8 right away.  Although all four mountains have terrain worth checking out, here are some suggestions you can keep in mind to keep you doing laps higher up:

  • If you’re the Teddy Roosevelt type, plan on doing some roughriding off of Chair 6 or the Imperial Express SuperChair – these chairs, which only access expert terrain, usually open around 10:00, after Ski Patrol has finished mitigating avalanche danger.
  • Bring out your inner cowboy on runs like Bronc, Cimarron, Grits, and Mustang.  Catch the Falcon SuperChair, then cruise down some steep groomers or test your mettle on the ungroomed south side.  Either way, you can bet Ronald Reagan never enjoyed his ranching as much as you’ll enjoy your time on Peak 10.
  • Not quite ready for the tough stuff?  Contemplate JFK’s commitment to space exploration as you soar up Peak 9 on the Mercury SuperChair.  From there, you’ll soak in dizzying views while you choose from six different intermediate runs and three advanced ones.

At some point, you’ll probably find yourself in a line, but try to keep a proper perspective while you’re waiting.  Your wait for the lift will be shorter than any Disney ride on a busy day, and you won’t find yourself suffering through “It’s a Small World” once you start.

Be Safe

Above all, ski and ride safely on the mountain.  Everybody on the hill will be there to have fun, so give them some respect.  If you need to touch up on the ski/ride responsibility code, do that here.  You don’t want to lose your ski privileges, get hurt, or hurt somebody else, so keep those simple rules in mind.

The town was once named after America's vice president.
The town was once named after America’s vice president.

Hit up town

One of the things that sets Breckenridge apart from other ski areas is the connection with an actual town.  There’s great shopping, food, and tons of nightlife.  Remember, though, that it is an actual town, with actual traffic laws.  You’re not the president (unless you are, and Mr. Obama – welcome!) so there are many pedestrian crossings. If you’re looking to get from one end to the other quickly, take Park Avenue.  Walking on Main Street?  Unless you have a cadre of Secret Service agents escorting you, stick to the crosswalks and make sure traffic has stopped.

You’ll want to eat, and your options are as varied as Richard Nixon’s denials.  If you’re buying groceries to take back to the condo, try to avoid the 5:00pm – 7:00 pm window.  Going out?  If possible, make your reservation as far in advance as you can, and make sure you’re on time.  Many local restaurants don’t take reservations; if you’re headed to one of these, go as early as possible to beat the rush.  You’re not dining at the White House, so most places accept you dressed for the slopes – no need to put on the formal wear.

From its early days as a mining town, Breck has been known as a place not shy about alcohol.  But before you decide to try your Ulysses Grant impersonation on your vacation, keep in mind that consuming alcohol can heighten the altitude issues you may encounter.  Drink responsibly.  Local grocery stores sell only 3.2% beer, if you decide to go that route.  And if you think you may party a little too much, use the free local buses or shuttles going both ways – parking overnight in the town lots is illegal, and so is driving under the influence.

Bo, Barney, Checkers… Our loyal canine companions are woven into the tapestry of Americana.  Breck is a dog-friendly community, but there are a few things you should know before bringing Fido along for the ride.  Carter Park is home to Breck’s dog park, and not doggy day care, so stick around to watch him have the time of his life.   Similarly, don’t leave your friends in your car all day long; the conditions are too variable to be sure of your dog’s comfort.  If you can’t leave your dog all day, consider some doggy day care.

Your experience in Breck is definitely going to be better than any presidential holiday. Take heed of these tips and you’ll be ready for the best vacation ever.

– Brad Stewart