Breckenridge, Colorado is one of the most famous ski destinations in the US, but it’s summers are just as spectacular, and far less busy. Summertime also opens up some stunning trails and alpine lakes that are inaccessible during ski season, nevermind camping and RVing options! Even if you’re not a camper, summer loding rates are significantly lower than those in winter. Just in case you still need convincing, here are 10 things to do in Breckenridge this summer!
First off, you need to know about a great free service, the Breckenridge Free Ride shuttle. It has service all across town with multiple routes and stops. It’s an easy hop on and off option, no ticket required. Parking can be be hard to come by in Breckenridge, so it’s best to arrive early, grab a spot and move around via the shuttle.
Perhaps the most Instagramed spot in Breckenridge, the Trollstigen Trail is a must! Isak, a giant wooden troll, was built by the Danish arrist Thomas Dambo during a 2018 art festival. The trail is just 0.25 mile, making it accessible to everyone. Expect to stand in line for a photo with the troll, unless you arrive early. While you can visit during the winter, the trail isn’t cleared or maintained, all the more reason to see it in summer.
There is very limited parking at the trailhead, but there are multiple public lots in Breckenridge where you can park and take the Breck Shuttle. It has a stop across the parking lot from the trailhead.
While you’re there, check out the Illinois Creek Trail. It’s 1.3 miles roundtrip, and is far less crowded than the Trollstigen Trail.
The Continental Divide
Dont miss a chance to straddle the Continental Divide! Stand with one foot in the Pike National Forest and another in the White River National Forest at Hoosier Pass. This 11,549-foot pass connects Alma to Breckenridge, a beautiful drive in and of itself. The pass is about 20 minutes outside of Breckenridge, but it’s often closed in winter, so if you do attempt it, be aware it comes with high risk of avalanche warning. See? Just another reason Breck is best in summer!
There’s also a moderate 2.8 mile trail, Hoosier Pass Loop, that departs from the Continental Divide parking lot.
In an expensive town, it’s hard to believe the BreckConnect Gondola is free, but it is! There are no reservations or tickets needed, just walk up and jump in. Each gondola car seats up to 8 people and will offer great views as it climbs the mountain. The gondola takes about 12 minutes to reach Peak 8. Check the gondola schedule for weather closures and information on closures for moose calving season (the gondola goes over moose hotspots, so it closes to avoid scaring them).
At the top, there are couple spots to eat, the Epic Discovery Base Camp, and the chairlift to Alpine Camp. The lower camp has some kids activities and miniature golf, while the Alpine camp has an challlenge course, climbing wall and a few hikes.
Breckenridge has a Norse heritage, thanks in part to the Norwegians who founded the Breckenridge Ski Resort. You’ll find Norse references scattered about town, including the 25-foot metal sculpture to the Viking god of snow and skiing, Ullr, on Peak 8. Every December, Breckenridge holds the Ullr Fest, a Viking themed celebration to ring in the ski season.
One of the amazing things about Breckenridge is the accessability of trails right from town. Sawmill Resevoir is hiding behind condo buildings, steps from restaurants and shops.
It’s 1.5 miles roundtrip, starting from the Snowflake Trailhead, behind the Snowflake Lift. It follows a creek through the forest before reaching a beautiful mountain lake. It’s a popular fishing spot, and a great place to just relax and take in the Rockies.
Warriors Mark Trailhead
Warriors Mark Trail, just like Sawmill, is steps from town. At just 1.1 miles, it’s an easy stroll through woods and behind some houses. It’s not particularly secluded, but I love that you can escape town into nature so quickly! We celebrated Father’s Day with brunch and then a hike here with my dad.
Don’t miss Blue Lake! It looks like a spot you hiked 10 miles to reach, but it’s about 15 minutes south of town, off Colorado 9. The road begins just past the popular Quandry Peak parking lot (accessible by reservation only). It’s a rough, steep road, and although a short drive, 4×4 is recommended.
You can park near the lake and hike down to it, or hike up the remainder of the road, which is sometimes closed to traffic. The road hike will take you to the top for stellar views and a waterfall. If you follow the shoreline around the lake, you’ll find some old mining ruins, wooden buildings held up by anchored cables. Be on the lookout for marmots and mountain goats, both which frequent the area.
Seriously, don’t miss this gem! It’s the most accessible, yet wild, alpine lake we’ve yet found. It’s also a surreal camping spot, more on that below.
The Sunday Market runs every Sunday from June to September, bringing together a variety of vendors, offering everything from food to plants to clothing. It’s held at the Main Street Station from 10am-3pm. It’s a great chance to find some unique items and support local businesses!
Where to Eat
Bird & Cow
Breckenridge restaurants are notoriously expensive, but the Bird & Cow is pretty reasonable and has great outdoor seating. They serve burgers, sandwiches, salads and more, along with having a full bar. The outdoor deck has mountain views, and for the price, it’s top of my Breck dining recommendations!
The Tin Plate is not cheap, but they serve up some of the best artisan pizzas I’ve had. Their menus change seasonally, and you can expect to pay between $25-$35 dollars for a 1-2 person pizza. Their salads are also amazing, particularly the Golden Beet. Next door is Dynamite Cookie, serving up hot and fresh cookies. Order them for desert at Tin Plate, or directly at the cookie shop and enjoy their cute outdoor seating.
Where To Stay
Even during the summer, lodging rates in Breckenridge aren’t cheap. On our first trip in summer 2022, we stayed at a now closed hotel on the outskirts of town. I wouldn’t recommend it anyway, but it’s moot point now. There are lots of hotel and condo rental options, plus a RV park, Tiger Run Resort. There are a few other RV options in the surrounding national forests.
However, if you are willing to tent camp or boondock, head to Blue Lake! No permit is required and spots are available on a first come basis. You can literally camp right beside the lake, although the wind can be rough, or further back into the treeline for a bit more protection. There are no facilities of any kind, so come prepared. If you have a tow-behind rig or a Class A, don’t even attempt it! Otherwise, just imagine waking up beside this alpine lake, marmots and mountain goats nearby, no one else around. It’s the most tranquil campsite you’ll find that doesn’t require a backcountry hike.
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Blue Lake is picture-perfect!
It’s so surreal! We saw an elopement ceremony there too!
Stunning pics and that Troll is just troll-some 😉 The food cafes have such quirky names and the golden beet salad made my mouth water. The pic of you standing in the valley is just gorgeous.
Somehow I couldn’t pin from this post – maybe a glitch at my end?
Thank you! It’s a great town all around!
The landscape of the US is simply breathtaking. And yes, the Sunday market (any local market for that matter) is such a delight to take a stroll at.