Breckenridge ski resort
Breckenridge is an attractive old mining town with a long main street filled with shops, bars and restaurants, reminiscent of a Wild West film. This welcoming centre and its varied skiing have helped to attract a loyal following for decades and its popularity sees little sign of waning.
The skiing here provides something for all levels and groups, from families to gung-ho types, with some of the slopes linked by the world's highest chairlift – the resort itself is also one of the world's highest at more than 2,900m (9,600ft).
Just one of four Colorado resorts owned by Vail Resorts, skiers can make use of a ski pass that includes the others: Beaver Creek, Keystone and Vail, as well as nearby Arapahoe Basin, which is not owned by the company.
'Breck' is the ski resort equivalent of Key West or New Orleans, the end of the road for fun-seekers. Multi-million dollar developments in recent seasons have brought the slopes and lifts right down to street level and despite the town's new gloss, at heart it's a place of partying ski bums. Notably, when the personal use of cannabis was legalised in Colorado, Breckenridge was one of the more relaxed resorts regarding the setting up of shops selling the drug.
Breckenridge in Summit County, Colorado, is located within White River National Forest, in the Rocky Mountains. The resort is 130km (81 miles) west of Denver by road.
BreckenridgeResort Elevation: 2925m
Top Elevation: 3963m
Base Elevation: 2925m
On the slopes
With nearly 200 runs, the ski area at Breckenridge will keep most recreational skiers busy for a week or more. The resort's altitude also means there is reliable snow throughout the season, with a relatively long season from mid-November to late April.
Skiing and boarding in Breckenridge spreads across five mountains: Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, which are each linked either by skiing or by the network of around 30 lifts. Beginners can learn the basics at the base area of Peak 9, near the town centre, and can progress onto its green slopes. There are also suitable runs for beginners on Peak 8, which disperse along its lower slopes and continue down into the heart of the resort.
There's plenty of intermediate cruising and expert terrain from which to choose, particularly on Peaks 7, 8 and 9, while Peak 10 has some tougher intermediate terrain.
The majority of runs in Breckenridge are classified as black, many of which are found on Peak 8, with its short runs on foreboding slopes. At the top of this peak, the Imperial Express reaches a world-record 3,915m (12,840ft) for a chairlift. It's the high point of a resort that has a base height loftier than the top of many of the world's great resorts.
Snowboarders are by no means left out of the fun. The five terrain parks and two halfpipes offer one of the best areas for freestylers around.