Colorado's Breckenridge Resort first broke the million-skier-day mark back in 1988. Often finishing just behind nearby Vail Mountain, Breckenridge usually ranks second among the most-visited U.S. ski areas by recording more than 1.6 million skier days annually. One skier day is a skier or snowboarder visiting the ski area for all or part of one day.
Although Vail may win the popularity contest in most years, Breckenridge can claim an authentic town as opposed to Vail's faux village. As the largest historic district in Colorado, the charming town started as a mining outpost when gold was discovered there in 1859. The ski area was opened in 1961.
Boosted by the Peak 6 expansion for the 2013-14 season, Breckenridge Resort now has 2,908 skiable acres covered by an annual average snowfall of about 300 inches. Breckenridge's below-treeline skiing generally stays fairly tame with blue runs dominating the fronts of Peaks 7, 8 and 9. Much steeper trails such as Devil's Crotch and Southern Cross come down between the peaks. Peak 10 is also home to more challenging black-diamond terrain.
The above-treeline terrain also tends to be more advanced. Horseshoe Bowl is accessed by a T-Bar with a lengthy vertical rise of 1,234 feet. Built in 2005, the Imperial Express SuperChair goes even higher to a North American record elevation of 12,840 feet. The new Peak 6 area features intermediate bowl skiing and expert hike-to-terrain.
- For beginners: The QuickSilver SuperChair on Peak 9 is good place for first-timers. Another cluster of green runs and relatively easy blues such as Springmeier can be found on Peak 8.
- For intermediates: Peak 7 is dominated by blue cruising runs.
- For experts: Breckenridge's most extreme steeps are found in the Lake Chutes and in the hike-to-terrain of Peak 6. Advanced skiers with a penchant for tree-skiing should head to Peak 10.
Disclaimer: Lift tickets were provided during visit to Breckenridge.