When we were originally planning this trip in January-ish of this year I was singularly focused on our VIP tickets for Trampled by Turtles concert at the Red Rocks, and had no cares about where else we might go in Colorado. Jeremy and Dan had ideas, however, and Dan really wanted us to go to Breckenridge. I had no idea where or what Breckenridge was, as I’m not into snow sports, and care nothing about skiing. Thus, my ignorance. But when it was explained to me, I wasn’t against going to see mountain views in summer.
When we re-planned our trip after the pandemic hit and the concert was postponed until 2021, Breckenridge was one of the few lodging locations booked that was refundable, but with a pandemic, it still seemed like a pretty practical location to visit and take in nature, so we just upgraded to a place with a kitchen.
Breckenridge was not always a ski destination – in fact it didn’t become one until after 1961 when a couple Norwegian brothers brought a cross country ski festival to the area, and convinced some investor friends to go in on a ski village. Breckenridge started as a gold mining town, with the desire to be something more. It went through many phases of mining, ending in an industrial dredge, a scourge of the earth, digging for gold in the streams and surrounding lands. And eventually, after 31,000 kilograms of gold were found, it was tapped, until the white powder replaced it and brought thrill seekers from all over the world to ski the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
As a settlement, Breckenridge’s first name was Fort Meribeh, named after the only white woman Mary B. who traveled to the expedition there. The name was changed to Breckinridge, after the 14th Vice President of the United States John C. Breckinridge, in an attempt to gain favor of the government and land a Post Office. The gamble won the result hoped for, and Breckinridge earned the only Post Office between Salt Lake City and the Continental Divide. When the former 14th Vice President sided with the Confederacy in 1861, becoming the Secretary or War under Jefferson Davis, the town changed the spelling of its name to Breckenridge to ensure that no one would associate it with the Confederate Traitor.
On our day in Breckenridge, we got up nice and early and walked Main Street, in the mask required zone, now closed to car traffic to allow outdoor dining in all local restaurants. We walked from our condo all the way down to the gondola that takes you to the “entertainment village.” A very well designed free ride to drop you in the center of a place designed to take your money. It is a beautiful ride past highways, water, and condo developments.
At the final resort it drops you at, is the foot of the chair lifts for the Alpine Slide, the Alpine Coaster and the Scenic Chair ride to Peak 8, where you can walk around a nice nature path and take pictures, or hike all of the way down the mountain. In a normal season, you can get a combo pass to ride all of the things – in pandemic season you have the opportunity to pay $28 per option. We chose the scenic chair ride to the top of the mountain.
At the top of the chair lift we walked the nature trail and saw a red fox who was not at all afraid of people and a bit mangy, so we kept our distance when the other few tourists crowded it. Despite the mange, he was photogenic.
The elevation at the top is over 11 thousand feet – so the air is thin, and even those of us used to moving and hiking were a little winded by the extremely easy trail. Then the clouds started getting ominous, and big cold chunks of slush started falling, so we decided to head down again before we got stuck up there and had to walk down the mountain (as I was not wearing the appropriate footwear for a real hike).
Down we went, and back onto the Gondolas and a walk to Main Street for lunch in one of the outdoor options. We chose Doma 1898, a cute little restaurant serving local-ish fair in a historic house. We sat on the outdoor patio, and watched the rain scare the tourists out from the beer garden across the street.
I enjoyed duck confit tacos, and Jeremy got a Monte Cristo sandwich, and Dan got the house burger. It was a tasty and filling lunch with no concerns about social distancing, and the sun started shining before we finished.
On full stomachs we ventured to the local grocery store to purchase our groceries for dinner and then took the slow trail back around some other scenic views of town and called it a day. It had been a beautiful day, with no time spent in a car, train, or airplane.