More than skiing in Breckenridge

Story & photos by Barbara Beckley

Do-it-yourself dog sledding with Good Tiimes Adventures.

Wheeee! I’m skimming across the snow, powered by eight enthusiastic huskies. We’re whooshing through the Christmas card-like beauty of pine trees tipped with snow, meadows blanked in shiny white, and bright blue skies punctuated with dazzling mountain peaks.

But I hardly have time to notice. I’m concentrating on shifting my weight into the turns, crouching low on the straightaways, and shouting “haw” (left) and “Gee” (right). Why? Because I’m not sitting on the sled with the dog musher behind me like on normal dog sledding tours. I am the dog musher! Going solo — guiding the hyper happy pups all by myself.

Of course, I’m not totally unchaperoned. A Good Times Adventures professional musher is following me on a snowmobile, ready to call the huskies to order should things go awry. This is the only do-it-yourself dog mushing tour I know of. And just one of the many out-of-the-ordinary activities that make the Colorado Rocky Mountain resort of Breckenridge a glorious winter destination, whether you ski, or like me, you don’t.

Mountain majesty is the wow factor upon arriving at Breckenridge, a 19th century gold mining town-turned ski resort, two hours from Denver International Airport. “You can see the towering mountains from everywhere,” said Liz Biebl, Vail Resorts senior communications manager. It’s also nice that you don’t need to rent a car. Most visitors take the Colorado Mountain Express shuttle from the Denver airport direct to their Breckenridge hotel. All the hotels have shuttle service around town, and many, like the Doubletree by Hilton Breckenridge where I stayed with friends, are within walking distance of the ski lifts and town.

Snow shoeing was next on my agenda — from the Breckenridge Nordic Center into the White River National Forest with guide Joe Teichman. Our two-mile trek wound through the Cucumber Gulch Preserve past snow-covered beaver dams and fresh moose, beaver, fox, and a possible lynx paw prints in the snow. “Don’t look right until I tell you to,” Mr. Teichman yelled, as we plodded across sunny snow fields. “Now,” he said. “Whoa!” The vision of Breckenridge’s six peaks, including the highest chairlift in North America at 12,840 feet, made a dazzling surprise.

Taking a breather, we stopped inside Josie’s Cabin, an empty mining log cabin from the 1800s that’s maintained as a warming hut for cross-country skiers and snow-shoers like us.    

The fact that Breckenridge is a genuine town — not a pre-fab resort development — is a picturesque plus for after-slope enjoyment. Shops, restaurants, art galleries, and nightspots are all the more exciting housed inside its historical buildings — many with colorful pasts. I learned the legends and walked where ghosts are spotted on the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance Historic Walking Tour, led by a smiling woman dressed in 19th century attire. Beginning at the Breckenridge Welcome Center, she made the Historic District (the largest historic district in Colorado) come alive, pointing out where gunfights took place, fortunes were made and lost, and ghosts play. “Things are often rearranged when no one is here. We suspect it’s Katie’s ghost,” she explained, inside the ritzy Victorian home built by socialites William and Kathleen (Katie) Briggle.

Trendy restaurants and night life dominate Main Street. Locals say the Blue River Bistro has the best martini bar in town. I agreed. Serving modern Italian American cuisine amid industrial chic, it feels a bit like being in Manhattan. Relish is Breckenridge’s top restaurant, according to the locals. Located upstairs in a historic building, the view overlooking the mountains is a perfect match for its Colorado-inspired cuisine including baked escargot, Oriental braised buffalo osso bucco, and baked Alaska.

Of course a night in Breckenridge doesn’t end with dinner. We popped into the Motherloaded Tavern, famous for house-made infusion cocktails like maple walnut bourbon and jalapeno vodka. Who do I see? Mr. Teichman, my snow shoe guide. Only now he’s headlining the show, singing and playing the guitar. For a nightcap, we descended into the basement Green Fairy Absinthe Bar. As a writer, I’m eager to experience this once forbidden 19th century aperitif, blamed for Edgar Allan Poe’s creativity. Turns out the preparation — pouring the absinthe, placing a sugar cube on a perforated spoon across the glass, and dripping ice cold water over the cube into the absinthe — was the exciting part for me. The taste, akin to Pernod, was less than thrilling. But having the absinthe experience added one more unforgettable thrill to my Breckenridge adventure.    

To learn more, visit www.gobreck.com.


Breckenridgetrendy restaurantsnight lifeColoradoski resortgold mining town

Feb 2020


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