Some may say it’s too windy, it’s excruciatingly flat, and there’s no snow. Others take offense at the lift prices, claiming it’s nothing but a tourist trap, full of gapers and dumb skiers. So why has this little town nestled high in the mountains of Summit County been known as “Snowboard Town, USA”?
Breckenridge was among the first ski areas to allow snowboarding, and has also been host to many of the original World Cup Halfpipe Championships. If you check out old videos or magazines (no, Stomping Grounds doesn’t count as old), you’ll see how much snowboarding progressed here. A lot of your favorite pros have spent time in Breck over the years, perhaps a little too long for some. And no matter how much snow falls, it always has one of the best parks in the world.
Visit Breckenridge with a good attitude and an open mind-you’ll see for yourself. Breck has always been highly supportive of snowboarding, and its diverse terrain offers something for everyone. The unique four-peak layout makes it possible to experience just about all aspects of snowboarding in one day-powder runs through the trees in the morning,-carve up some fast groomers on Peak Ten, and then go warm up on Peak Nine in one of Breck’s lengthy snowboard parks. Next over to Peak Eight, grab some lunch at Boarders’ Burritos-filling your belly but not emptying your wallet. Step it up in the recently added Freeway park, which features nicely built, pro-sized tabletops, and no flat landings-unless you come up short, of course. There’s usually a sick session going on, and everyone’s pretty friendly, making for a good vibe and a fun atmosphere to learn in. On any given day you might see Todd Richards or Chad Otterstrom busting out a new move off the same jump you’re hitting. If you can’t quit clear the big side yet, or maybe want to work on some switch tricks, there’s always a smaller side to launch. The icing on the cake is the halfpipe, complete with snack machines, loudspeakers, and even a moving, airport-style walkway that takes riders back to the top of the pipe!
If you need a change of pace and want to avoid the crowds, take a chair to the top and start a lung-busting hike up Peak Seven to satisfy your craving for steeper terrain. The cool thing about Breckenridge is that even when it’s crowded, you can still get fresh tracks while avoiding skiers and lift lines. Most of the tourists stick to the green runs, leaving all the accesible bowls and tree runs to the adventurous hiker. There are gates all over the mountain leading to virgin snow and steeper terrain, often short but sweet. Always take a buddy with you though-it takes more than one body to build a kicker anyway.
Breckenridge is probably someplace the seasoned veteran could live without. But for the aspiring up and comer, the occasional snowboarder, or the first timer, Breck’s a great place to develop some skills. The mountain is pretty flat in spots, making a good wax job critical for traversing from peak to peak. It’s worth getting a tune at one of the many local shops; they know what the highly varied day to day conditions require.
Breckenridge usually has great weather, and sunshine-filled powder days aren’t that uncommon. As for the 50-dollar lift ticket, keep in mind that the same ticket is also good at two other nearby resorts: Keystone, which offers long tree runs, night riding, and a lit pipe, and Arapaho Basin, a steeper, rock-filled little mountain. It’s actually not that bad of a deal. Oh, and here’s a hint-April’s the best month. Don’t tell anyone, though; it’s a secret.