Kieran Cain once hailed from Denver, Colorado, but made the choice to relocate “up the hill”–about an hour and a half’s drive west–to Breckenridge. The ”Breck” tranplant makes his living in the ski industry as the marketing director for Breckenridge Ski Resort and couldn’t be happier. Here are a few of Kieran’s favorite things about the town he now calls home.

Follow Kieran’s story on Twitter @KieranCain.

Breckenridge is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the mountain. Whether it’s skiing it in the wintertime, or exploring the resort’s slopes in the summer, the famous peaks of “Breck” tower over the townscape below and everyone’s eyes eventually magnetically turn to the beckoning hills that soar up to over 13,000 feet.

Skiiers at Breckenridge Ski Resort, which opened its first slope in 1961 (Photograph by snowbuzz, Flickr)

Skiiers at Breckenridge Ski Resort, which opened its first slope in 1961 (Photograph by snowbuzz, Flickr)

April is the best time to visit my city because you get the best of both seasons. April is often the snowiest time of the year, meaning you can still make great turns on the hill, but also you can get 50° days–great spring skiing conditions for sporting a bikini or T-shirt.

You can see my city best from the top of Mount Baldy, which faces west across the valley. You can drive part of the way up, but the real views involve a hike up to the top. Once you get there, you’re rewarded with unparalleled panoramas of the valley and the ski resort’s signature slopes; you can even pick out Main Street and the town below.

Locals know to skip Main Street and check out Ridge Street instead.

The Breck Distillery is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like Father Dyer (a Methodist “circuit rider” preacher who crossed the local peaks by skis), Barney Ford (an escaped slave turned entrepreneur), and extreme-sports star Shaun White have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Country Boy Gold Mine because it’s a real working gold mine from back in the day that’s been turned into a museum. You can even descend deep into the Earth to its historical ore-cart track. Claustrophobics beware!

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that everything is within walking distance. In the winter you can ski from the top of the Independence SuperChair (the highest in North America at 12,998 feet!) all the way down into town–a distance of more than 3.5 miles and a drop in elevation of well over more than 3,000 feet!

The store at Breckenridge Distillery (Photograph by Jeff Schmidt, courtesy Breckenridge Distillery)

The store at Breckenridge Distillery (Photograph by Jeff Schmidt, courtesy Breckenridge Distillery)

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is everywhere. Being in Breck means spending as little time indoors as possible. Once you’ve set foot outside your door, everything else is an adventure.

My city really knows how to celebrate winter because every January they shut down Main Street and host Ullr Fest, a week-long celebration including a parade, giant bonfire, and other zany activities designed to honor Ullr, the legendary Norse god of snow.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they know what the term “gaper” means.

For a fancy night out, I put on my nicest jeans and a button-down shirt (this is as fancy as it gets in Breck) and hit up the Hearthstone, the classiest restaurant in town, housed in a beautiful Victorian house that once served as a brothel.

Just outside my city, you can head a few miles north and hit Lake Dillon, which offers fishing (it’s stocked with rainbow trout by the U.S. Forest Service each year) and recreation opportunities year round. A few miles south of town you’ll hit the Continental Divide; the water on the south side of it eventually flows to the Pacific while the water on the north side heads east toward the Atlantic.

My city is known for being a real-life Victorian snow globe come to life, but it’s really a genuine community of year-round residents who all seem to exhibit an endearing yet off-beat character.

Costumed gallivanters strut their stuff at Ullr Fest  (Photograph by Alan B, Flickr)

Costumed gallivanters strut their stuff at Ullr Fest (Photograph by Alan B, Flickr)

The best outdoor market in my city is the once-a-year Oktoberfest, which features Germanic delights and, of course, beer. This is definitely one of the most popular events of the year.

The Columbine Cafe is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Crepes a la Carte (a great sidewalk cart) is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Breck Blog, which is full of stories, tips, and suggestions written by locals.

My city’s biggest sports event is the Winter Dew Tour in December. Watch it at the giant, custom-built course located on Peak 8 or broadcast live on NBC Sports.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I take on another part-time job. Breck is home to many seasonal employees and it’s common for many people to hold down several jobs at a time–or season–throughout the year.

To escape the crowds, I walk a half mile east or west to get out of the town proper and up into the mountains.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Clint Eastwood because Breck plays by its own rules. Like Clint, it embodies the cool, relaxed vibe its competitors secretly wish they could channel.

The Dillon Marina, high elevation sailing at its best (Photograph by Photo Phiend, Flickr)

The Dillon Marina, high elevation sailing at its best (Photograph by Photo Phiend, Flickr)

The dish that represents my city best is elk medallions, and a beer at the Gold Pan Saloon (the oldest continually operating bar west of the Mississippi) is my city’s signature drink.

Ten Mile Station is my favorite building in town because it’s got great character. It takes as its inspiration an old-time mining camp on the mountain that some resort employees say is haunted at night. You can ski right up to it on Peak 9.

The most random thing about my city is seeing people riding their bikes in the dead of winter, through foot-deep snow.

Lounging on the lawn of the Riverwalk Center next to the Blue River with magnificent views of Peak 8 (the venue’s garage-style doors can roll up so you can hear the concert outside) is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Cecilia’s on south Main Street–the best place in town (or any surrounding town) that has a real club atmosphere and goes all night.

Finding the biggest gold nugget ever found in Colorado (“Tom’s Baby,” weighing 13.5 pounds, in 1887) could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should come prepared for radical weather changes. It can snow a foot overnight, then melt by the next afternoon. Temperature swings can vary by as much as 50 degrees in 24 hours!

In the summer you should visit the Breck Summer Fun Park, which features an alpine slide that’s been a must-do since the ‘60s, a new alpine roller coaster, and tons of kids activities. You can also take your mountain bike up the Colorado SuperChairlift all the way to the top of Peak 8 and then ride all the way down without having to pedal once!

Check out the views along Boreas Pass  (Photograph by UCFFool, Flickr)

Check out the views along Boreas Pass (Photograph by UCFFool, Flickr)

In the fall you should drive up Boreas Pass, once the site of the world’s highest railroad mountain pass. Now it’s a drivable road offering magnificent views. Plus you end up on the other side of the mountain in Como, home of the historic Como Depot. Stop in for a beer and imagine what it was like when it was a way station and the only building around.

In the winter you should ski, snowboard, or telemark. Hit up a local for the best powder stashes and explore Breck’s four signature peaks.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the “mountain-style” cookies at Mary’s Mountain Cookies, which basically amount to two huge cookies with your choice of flavored frosting in between. If you can finish one, consider yourself a champion.

The best book about my city is ”Breckenridge: 150 years of Golden History,” by Marky Ellen Gilliand.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind isOne Day” by Matisyahu, who was so inspired by a visit to Colorado that he decided to dedicate his life to pursuing music.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because character is king. Breck is friendly, authentic, open, and welcoming. You’ll arrive a visitor and leave a local.

Comments

  1. Bryan
    November 22, 2013, 3:46 pm

    Great article! I agree with everything here. However, the link to Mt Baldy in this article is a different Mt Baldy (in California). Our Mt Baldy is much higher – 13,690.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bald_Mountain_%28Colorado%29

    • Leslie Trew Magraw
      November 22, 2013, 4:23 pm

      Great catch. Thanks for the correction!

  2. Dan
    Cañon City, CO
    November 24, 2013, 11:57 am

    One other minor correction: south of Breck is Hoosier Pass. The water south of Hoosier flows to the Atlantic side; the water north of Hoosier (on the Breck side) flows to the Pacific. The article has it backwards.