Updated: Oct. 27, 2016
You’ve heard of Sleepless in Seattle, but how about Carless in Breckenridge?
Fact is, not only is going carless at 9,600 feet a real possibility, it’s a great way to get out from behind the wheel and tap into a mountain experience on foot, bike, shuttle or public transportation. Read on for local insight and keep it truly stress-free.
Car or Shuttle? Top considerations
Provided you are staying in town, on a bus/shuttle route, or with a lodging company that offers transportation, taking a shuttle to and from the airport simplifies your in-town experience. For those who rented the remote cabin 10, 15 or 20 miles from town–you will need a car or cab service if you’d like to get out of that cabin!
Several companies run shuttles from Denver International Airport, making the connection a cinch. As the largest, Colorado Mountain Express tends to offer the most departures (so it’s easy to get rescheduled if your flight is late) and the best off-season service. Otherwise, most offer similar products at a similar price — don’t be afraid to deal-shop and call around for the best times. See the options on TripAdvisor.
From here, sit back and enjoy the ride to Breckenridge, you’re just 90 miles and about 4,000 vertical feet away from the top of the Colorado Rockies. Most shuttles offer free WiFi, providing you with plenty of time to check in with the office, friends, family or your favorite social networks.
Family/group tip: If you’re traveling with 4 or more people, consider booking a private SUV. The price is about the same or cheaper for groups of 5-6, and it will save you time, potentially a lot of it. For some, it’s worth the cost even if you’re just 1-2 people. Families, be sure to ask about discounts for kids on standard shuttles.
On the cheap: This will take some time and planning, but you can take the RTD A Line train from the airport to Denver’s Union Station. From there, catch the Bustang to the Frisco Transfer Station, and the free Summit Stage into downtown Breckenridge. There’s currently no bag storage at Union Station, so if you aren’t packed light, be sure to check train/bus schedules and plan your flight accordingly (Bustang has only two departures per day in each direction).
Consider lodging check-in/out times: If your lodging has an off-site check-in location and you arrive hours before check-in time, you might find yourself hauling luggage across town once the room is ready. The same goes for late night departures. Most properties will hold your luggage while you explore, but if you have lots of luggage and/or little ones in tow, ask your lodging representative about transportation to/from your room. This is not a concern for traditional resorts and lodges.
Do this: Plan to arrive in Breckenridge on a weekday, when I-70 tends to be smooth sailing (unless Mother Nature interferes with a snowstorm). If weekends are your only option, expect the shuttle ride (or drive) to take longer, especially westbound on Friday nights/Saturday mornings, and eastbound on Sunday afternoons.
Good to know: If you must rent a car, please familiarize yourself with traction laws and vehicle requirements for traveling during severe snowstorms. And remember, if storms are threatening to close the roads, just stay put and stay safe.
Around town: Free Ride, Zipcar, taxis and Uber
With several base areas for skiing, a gondola from town and a trail network accessible just blocks from Main Street, most activities–including skiing, hiking, biking, shopping, eating, live music and more–are just a short stroll away once you reach downtown Breckenridge. The heart of Main Street is roughly six blocks; many rental properties sit within easy walking distance of Main. Whether you’re staying a little farther from Main Street, tired from a day exploring, or hauling groceries, there are lots of options to get around town.
The Free Ride bus system offers year-round service through town’s most popular neighborhoods, as well as a Main Street Trolley. The Summit Stage offers service up Boreas Pass and to the town of Blue River, two areas that are slightly farther from downtown but tend to offer better value for lodging. Additionally, the Summit Stage offers transportation around the county, including other ski areas.
Zipcar: The world’s largest car-sharing service arrives in Breckenridge this ski season with six mountain-ready vehicles parked around town. It’s a no-brainer for existing members. For new members, it’ll cost a little over $40 (including application fee, one month access and an hour of driving) to get started–it’s a great option if you expect multiple grocery runs, a day at Vail and/or transportation to remote trailheads. Signup is near instant through the mobile app.
Uber in the Rockies: Uber connects rider to drivers via its mobile app. Simply sign up online or download the app. Since this is a relatively new service for Breckenridge, Uber tends to be more reliable in ski season, especially during peak times such as weekends and evenings.
Activity shuttles: Many popular outfitters for activities such as rafting, dogsledding, snowmobiling and more offer shuttles to and from downtown. For those that don’t, Zipcar is a great option.
Breckenridge is not just a ski town, in the summer it transforms into a bike town. Summit County features more than 50 miles of paved bike paths connecting the towns of Breckenridge, Frisco, Copper Mountain, Dillon, and Keystone. Plus, you’ll see cruiser and townie bikes everywhere from locals and visitors alike.
For mountain bikers, the off-road options are virtually endless, making this one of the premier biking destinations in the world. Here’s links to a few shops that rent bikes:
One of the most popular and most easily accessed rides for recreational riders is the bike path along Lake Dillon. From Breckenridge, the loop around Lake Dillon is roughly 31 miles round trip with 1,600 feet of vertical climb. And don’t worry if you tucker out. The Summit Stage buses have bike racks all summer so you can catch a free ride back to Breckenridge. Find more information on local rides and clubs at SummitBiking.org.