This year, we crash-landed into our Winter Break ski trip. In some ways, we were more on top of things this year. I set up a grocery delivery service this time that worked wonders. By the time we got checked into our condo, we were already stocked with the basics and didn’t have to stress too much about dinner. These first two nights have relied heavily on easy grocery meals that required very little work (frozen pizza, pasta, steak and broccoli on it’s way). Summit Home Services passed the ultimate test-well-picked avocados and tomatoes!
I also pre-booked the kids for a mini camp at the Breckenridge Rec Center in town for a day to give them a break from ski school. Make sure to book ahead and get all of the forms out of the way, including updated vaccination records.
Alas, we had forgotten a strategy that worked well the year before in Steamboat Springs-take the first day there as a relaxed recon mission. This way, we would have our bearings, get acclimated to the area, have some idea of where things are, where we are going, and how to get there. This year, we jumped right into ski lessons, without even having rented the skis yet. So we had to make it up to the rental office to get fitted for boots, skis, and poles before heading to find our class for the day. This made for a pretty hectic and tiring day.
Our Riverbend condo was located on 4 o’clock Road in between peaks 8 & 9, right next to the Snowflake lift. Of course, it’s advertised as a wonderful location steps away from the free ski shuttle. The best way to get everyone where they needed to be at the right time required back and forth trips with the car and taking the shuttle. The condo is right next to the Snowflake lift, but we have not really had the chance to use it!
The Free Ride shuttle is supposed to come every 15 minutes. Well, I had to be standing out there in the cold for about 30 minutes until one came and it was packed to the gills (definitely above the 35 passenger max sign on the ceiling).
The lines for rentals and ski lifts, etc. were long. Though the staff was always friendly and helpful, the lines were out the door. Coming home on the shuttle again involved about a 30 minute wait, this time with two cold, tired and hungry kids along. Well, after about a half hour of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic packed like sardines (seriously, the driver asked everyone to pack in like sardines) the driver announced he was cutting off service at the Gondola (about half way to where we needed to be) and that we would have to use the city bus (which I don’t think goes to our stop) or find another way home.
It had since gotten dark and grown colder and all we wanted to do was get home. As soon as I called for an Uber that was going to cost $25, I came across another shuttle going to our stop. A $5 Uber cancellation fee later, and we were finally on our way home. All in all, it took us about 2 hours to get home.
The driver from the morning shuttle explained that they had been behind schedule because of all the traffic. Indeed, one local told me they were exceptionally busy this season. Another said Breckenridge is usually a city of just 3,000 people, but they get as many as 35,000 visitors in the high season. The shuttle driver also blamed the new skier drop-off next to One Ski Hill Place which is causing bumper to bumper traffic up the mountain.
Though it’s such a beautiful and charming area, I would not visit Breckenridge again during the peak season. I would also want a more centralized location that does not require transportation. Ski-in/Ski-out options would be the best when the kids are older, have their own skis and are able to ski well enough. Until then, it’s best to stay more central to the village and the ski school.
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