Summit County, in the Colorado Rockies, boasts 300 day of sunshine where vacationers from the world over enjoy all the recreational, cultural, and culinary activities in this outdoor paradise. The county is only 75 miles from Denver along Interstate Highway I-70 West. There is an elevation gain up to almost 8,000 feet as you drive west across the Continental Divide. This elevation provides a base for four major ski/snowboard areas – Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone. All these ski areas have abundant snowfall, so the winter ski season may start in mid- October and end in early June. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Summit County is the place to experience all that winter has to offer – Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sledding, and tubing. Once you have spent a winter vacation in Summit County, you will want to return during the summer with its cool and refreshing mountain weather. The Blue River has prize trout fishing and in addition there is high altitude fishing at Mohawk Lake. There are two reservoirs, Dillon and Green Mountain, stocked with the types of trout anglers yearn to catch. Fly-fishing is the best kept secret in Summit County with some waterways designated by the state as Gold Medal Waters. Other river activities include whitewater rafting for the novice up to Class V paddlers. There is also kayaking for a more peaceful time on the water. Back on the mountain, there are numerous golf courses where you can elevate your game and even several disc-golf courses located throughout the county. Looking for a family activity, then try an ATV adventure. Whether guided or on your own, there are scenic views, old mines, and ghost towns to explore along the mountain track. Another option to hit the trails is on horseback. Horses have played a vital part in Colorado’s history from wild herds of mustangs to driving herds of cattle. Colorado is known for its many high mountain peaks. There are 100 mountain peaks over 14,000 feet in the United States. Fifty-eight of those peaks, known locally as “fourteeners”, tower over Colorado. Gray’s Peak and Torrey’s Peak are located within Summit County and both are above 14,000 feet. Many hiking trails ranging from 8,400 to 12,000 feet can be trekked at White River National Forest, Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, and Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Area. The high elevation is the perfect terrain for rock climbing. For beginners there is top-rope climbing, while advanced climbers can experience a day of rock climbing with an expert guide. All the outdoor activities that you dream of are here in Summit County, Colorado.
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Explore Summit County – Summer Activities
Explore Summit County – Winter Activities
Breckenridge – In the 1800’s Breckenridge was a gold mining town, named after the 14th US Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky. It was still considered “No Man’s Land” until 1936, when it was welcomed by the Governor into the Colorado union. Then in 1961 Breckenridge Ski Resort cut several trails on Peak 8 and a ski town was born. The Victorian homes and a historic Main Street create a unique mountain village atmosphere. There are tours to learn the history of the town, to try gold panning, and even haunted ghost tours all giving a fascinating view of life in Breckenridge. The Backstage Theatre, Repertory Orchestra and summer music festivals provide musicians a background to offer enriching performances for both visitors and residents alike.
The outdoor sports are the real activities that draw guests to Breckenridge. From the majestic mountains and hiking at Quandry Peak, to the endless miles of trails for biking on the Rec Path, to the whitewater and paddling at Kayak Park, there is an adventure for every age and skill level.
Copper Mountain – Copper Mountain is more than a ski resort. It’s a year round small mountain town with all the winter and summer activities outdoor enthusiasts expect in Colorado. There are numerous mountain adventures for the family. Start the day with a scenic chairlift ride up the mountain and enjoy the views at the top. A fun trip down the mountain is on the Rocky Mountain Coaster. This alpine coaster glides on 5800 feet of track that weave through the trees at speeds up to 25 mph. Another way down the mountain is with the Bike Haul. Bikes are hauled on the chairlift up to the top of the peak, then riders choose the novice or intermediate one-track trail to ride back down to the bottom. Once back in town head over to West Lake for a ride on the bumper boats. The afternoon can be spent hiking. There are the mountain roads for beginners, the Chickaree Way for intermediate hikers and the Colorado Trail for the expert hikers. Golf is always fun and challenging at high altitude. The Par 9, 18-hole Copper Creek Golf Course with views of the Ten Mile Range from every hole is open to the public. Winter brings an all new set of adventures. Naturally skiing and snowboarding are the main winter attractions at Copper Mountain. There are 150 runs, the longest named, Collage, at 1.7 miles and 50 lifts which are spread over 2,490 skiable acres. On a non-ski day, try a few of the other winter activities found at Copper Mountain. Choose from ice skating, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing, or Woodward Copper, an indoor and outdoor terrain park. There are so many recreational choices at Copper Mountain without ever leaving the resort.
Keystone – Keystone is a resort town with an alpine mountain feel. The town is nestled in a valley with the base area at 9,280 feet and the mountain summit reaching 12,408 feet. The resort had a unique beginning. After a New Year’s party, Max Dercum, who lived at Ski Tip Ranch overlooking Keystone Mountain, and Bill Bergman, a lawyer from Iowa, agreed on a handshake to create a year-round resort on Keystone Mountain. Keystone Resort’s opening day was November 21, 1970 and lift tickets were $5! The base consists of five areas – East Keystone, West Keystone, Lakeside Village, Mountain House, and River Run Village. The skiing/snowboarding runs cover three mountains – Dercum Mountain, North Peak, and the Outback. In addition, there are 5 bowls for day long powder laps and endless tree runs. A snow cat shuttle ($20) is available to reach to outer Erickson and Bergman bowls, no hiking necessary to reach epic snow. Night skiing, between mid-December – March, is a unique opportunity to ski/snowboard under the lights with 15 runs open after dark. Other evening activities include sleigh rides to the homestead in Soda Creek Valley where dinner awaits hungry skiers or ice skating on the frozen 5-acre Keystone Lake. Dining options abound in all the Keystone base villages and on the mountain, just a gondola ride away. Start each apres ski with Happy Hour on the patio, then head out for some family favorite meals or to a AAA four diamond culinary experience. From casual to upscale dining Keystone offers guests an array of choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every snack in between. Keystone Resort also has summer activities to be enjoyed by vacationers of all ages. Panoramic views on gondola rides to the summit of Keystone Mountain, for the hikers there is the Dercum Mountain Hiking Trail with more Rocky Mountain views, golfers have a choice of playing two courses – the River Course or Keystone Ranch (closed for Summer 2020). Keystone Adventure Center has a variety of on-the-water sports including fishing and boat rentals –paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards. Keystone’s motto is “Your Favorite Mountain Playground”.
Dillon – Dillon has the perfect location for a mountain town right on the shores of Lake Dillon, amongst the Ten Mile and Gore Mountain ranges. It is the perfect home base for skiing/snowboarding at nearby Breckenridge and Keystone. And a short drive to Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Loveland and Vail expand the choices for skiing/snowboarding within close proximity to Dillon. A “must see” December winter activity are the Dillon Ice Castles, where ice artists have placed icicles to form sculptures, tunnels, and slides into an inter-active ice playground. Dillon Nature Preserve offers snowshoeing and Nordic skiing in the winter months and hiking once the snowpack melts. Lake Dillon Marina is a hub of aquatic activities both in summer and winter. Summer sports include stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, boat tours, boat rentals and sailing. The sailing options include lessons, basic keel boat courses and daytime and sunset tours. During the winter months the frozen lake provides unique opportunities to try snow kiting and ice fishing. The Dillon Amphitheater is located on the shores of Lake Dillon and is a spectacular outdoor venue for the summer concert series. Concerts are not the only offerings at the Amphitheater in the summer. Daytime brings out the music on the water with Pontune Sessions. Stop by for Happy Hour on Thursdays and Fridays for beer, food, and music from local musicians. Nighttime music includes the free Pop Up Concerts with beer, BBQ, and live music. Dillon is central to all there is to do in Summit County.
Frisco – There were believed to be Ute settlements, estimated about 7,000 years ago, in and around the area known today as Frisco. The most recent settlements were in the early 19th century when gold and silver mining along with the railroad made the settlements into a town. After mining declined, Frisco became a base camp for all of Summit County’s vast outdoor pursuits. Today the town of Frisco in central to an endless array of activities for the young and young at heart. Denver Airport is only 90 minutes away from Frisco and the beginning of an adventurous vacation. Frisco is within a 30-minute drive to six of central Colorado’s epic ski resorts – Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Loveland, and Vail. Skiing and snowboarding are just two of the ski sports available in Frisco. The Frisco Nordic Center offers classic cross-country skiing and skate skiing on 27 km of trails. To enjoy the mountain views in every direction snowshoe on the 10 km of trails from the Nordic Center. Rentals, lessons, and ski tuning are all available at the Center. For the past 50+ years Frisco has held the annual Gold Rush Nordic Event, a classic and skate skiing race. For non-skiers there are Tumble Bubbles at Frisco Adventure Park along with tubing and sledding. For an off the hill experience of gliding through a winter wonderland book a sleigh ride for the family. The summer months have just as much to offer every guest and the first stop should be at the Frisco Bay Marina on the south southern shores of Lake Dillon. The sandy beach is a place to start the day. Rent a boat or paddle through the islands on a stand-up paddleboard or in a kayak. Let the Captain do the steering on a boat tour. Lake Dillon is a world class destination for sailing and regattas. Sailing lessons, rentals, and tours offer another choice for water activities. Frisco is a bike and pedestrian friendly town as there seem to be more cruiser bikes than cars in the summer and the fat tire bikes appear during the winter. The kids will want to spend an afternoon at the Bike Park at Frisco Adventure Park on the pump track, slopestyle course, dirt jumps, and dual slalom course. With plenty of bike paths around town, road riding to other Summit County towns, mountain bike trails and even a path all the way to Vail, there is a ride for every skill level. Frisco is a charming small town with a Main Street of unique shops and boutiques, bars, restaurants, and breweries, not to mention the 10 Mile Music Hall. The town is a bikeable, skiable, walkable trailhead to adventure.
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