Section 11: Summit County

The following information on Summit County (Colorado) is provided courtesy of Carlson Peters (

Summit County, Colorado

11.01) Breckenridge:

A very complicated mountain. Most people don't like it because they don't get a chance to know it. You will spend a couple of days trying to figure out where you are. They also have a terrain gap between intermediate and expert, the so called advanced terrain. This is another reason most netters pann it. It is the windiest of the four. The front and back bowls (Peak 8) often get twice the snowfall reported on the cable but dress very warm and be a strong skiier to enjoy them. Peak 9 has good lower intermediate terrain. Avoid the Quicksilver Quad on 9 - it serves the flatest terrain in the world. Breck has a zillion shops and resturants and bars and has lots of beautiful wooden victorian architecture(walk around the side of town opposite the ski area) and western flavor. This is the town to stay in if you're looking for ambiance and nightlife.

11.02) Copper Mountain:

Strong on long, advanced bump runs, the kind that probably would be upper intermediate if they were groomed. Some steeps and above treeline skiing too. The mountain is neatly divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain. Park at B lift and avoid the crowds. The east side is the place to ski if the snow is coming down hard but be a strong skier. Lots of narrow, protected trails shield you from the wind and flat light. Head to Union bowl on a sunny powder morning for the deepest snow on the mountain. The absolute best NOVICE and low intermediate terrain in the county is on the west end of the mountain. The long, uncrowded, gently rolling slopes are perfect for confidence building. The village is small and quiet most any time of the year.

11.03) Keystone:

Keystone proper is derisevly referred to as a golf course. The runs get unbearably crowded mid-season with an obnoxious variety of Texans and the natural snowfall is significantly less than that of the other Summit County resorts. Otherwise, the front side is completely groomed on a daily basis and offers long beginner/intermediate cruising. Ski down the backside to NorthPeak and the Outback early on a powder morning for some great skiing. Most advanced skiers simply skip it due to Keystone's pablum reputation. NorthPeak/Outback gets alot more snow than what gets reported on the cable for Keystone. Keystone usually opens the first week of October with one boring run open and lift tickets are still full priced. They have the most extensive snowmaking west of the Mississippi so they are a safe bet in a real lousy winter. Keystone village is very lame and expensive. The Ranch has a wonderfully romantic/expensive fixed price dinner though.

11.04) Arapahoe Basin:

This place has the most expert terrain and bumps under one lift in all of Colorado. Endless varitations are possible if you are in terrific shape. The base is just below timberline and there is big, beautiful, mostly intermediate bowl skiing above. This is THE place to be on a warm, sunny spring day. Midway gets transformed into a beach, complete with lounge chairs and log cabin barbecue. The parking lots is full of partying tail-gaters. The Basin stays open long after all the other CO resorts have closed, usually Memorial Day. Just 4 lifts but an awful lot of terrain. It's a nasty place to be in a storm though, no cover and complete whiteouts are the norm then. The Basin always get more snow than anywhere else in Summit Co but also needs the most due to the rocky, rugged terrain. This is just a ski area near the summit of Loveland Pass - absolutely no nightlife.

11.05) General

Summit County can be enjoyed without a car, shuttle busses run between the first three resorts from early in the morning to late at nite, budget about an hour of travel time to get from one resort to another although they are all within 15 miles of each other. To get to Arapahoe, you must take the county shuttle to Keystone then transfer to a shuttle to the Basin - add another half hour. Cut the time in half for an auto and multiply by 1.5 if it is snowing.

There are three other towns in Summit County. They are located within a few miles of each other in the heart of the County and offer cheaper lodging and dining as well as quick shuttle access to the ski areas.


The most lively of the three. Many dining options from fast food to gourmet. A few funky Motels, some condos, a nice main street and some nitelife. Safeway.

Dillon/Dillon Valley

Condos, Condos, and more Condos - most of them ugly. Lousy food and high prices. Dead after 7 PM. Lodging cheap by Summit County standards though.


Pretty much locals only. Try the Mint for western style grill your own steak and salad bar. Antonia's for some good Italian food and Pizza. CityMarket.

Tip for future ski bums

A ski-the-summit season pass includes all of the above areas. This gives you access to about 60 lifts and 9 separate peaks with the longest season in the west starting in early October at Keystone and continuing into June at A-Basin. Buy early and save.

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