While I love skiing as much as the next frog, sometimes a Colorado fall mountain getaway is exactly what my family and I need. As an in-between season, fall in Breckenridge is a wonderfully quiet time to explore the mountains without the crowds and often without the snow. Most of us think of fall as October and November, but in the higher elevations of the mountains, fall is really September with a little dose of October thrown in. Fall in Colorado is not like the fall of the Northeast — blink and you’ll miss it! By early October, the leaves already could be off the trees and a bit of snow could be on the ground; maybe not enough snow to ski yet, but enough that your plans for a bike ride might be dashed.
When to Visit and What to Do During Fall in Breckenridge
Narrowing down what you want to do will help you determine when to schedule your fall getaway. Want to take a ride on a gondola or ski lift? Plan to visit in early- to mid-September, as many lifts close for a brief time in between the summer and winter seasons. Always check before traveling, since you never know when Mother Nature will change the schedule. (Breckenridge Resort can be reached at 1-800-536-1890.) Interested in seeing the aspen trees turn from green to red and gold? Consider a late-September to mid-October trip.
If you’re wondering when fall in the mountains really ends and the ski season begins, well, that depends on each ski resort. Breckenridge Resort’s opening day is usually the first week or so in November (this year it’s Nov. 8), but Keystone had its earliest opening ever on Oct. 12 this year. (Mother Nature + snow machines = early powder!) What this means for a fall family getaway is to plan on the earlier side of fall!
If you’re traveling to Breckenridge from a part of the country that has a rather colorless fall, you’re in for a treat! Whether you’re exploring Breckenridge from the car or want to stretch your froggy legs, you’ll see amazing amounts of autumn colors. One of the best places to see the aspen leaves change is on Boreas Pass, just outside of the town of Breckenridge. While Breckenridge sits at an elevation of 9,600 feet, Boreas Pass will take you up to 11,481 feet, and the higher you go, the more quickly the “seasons” will change. While you may see fall foliage in town, by the time you get onto Boreas Pass, the trees may already have gone completely dormant! The pass is appropriate for hikers, bikers and vehicles, but be prepared for tight spaces along a dirt road/path that is shared among all three kinds of travelers. Of course, the town of Breckenridge itself also offers wonderful views of the fall foliage, without having to navigate a narrow road.
The Town of Breckenridge
Established in 1895, the town of Breckenridge itself has a wonderful kind of energy no matter when you visit. The town’s Main Street is completely walkable, making it easy to hop into as many shops as you wish along the way including stores featuring handmade jewelry, tourist clothing (of course!), candy shops and even toy shops. (If you’re looking for even more shopping, Breckenridge is an easy hop, skip and jump away from the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne where there’s plenty of restaurants and even brand name outlet stores.) Don’t feel like walking in Breckenridge? A free hop-on/hop-off trolley (this town was made for us frogs!) makes its way around at regular intervals.
Street parking and parking lots are available for a small fee using your smartphone and the “Passport” app; a good thing to know regardless of the time of year you’re visiting Breckenridge.
Should your young tadpoles need a break from all the walking and shopping along Main Street, Blue River Plaza (just near the Breckenridge Welcome Center) offers a small playground right along the — you guessed it — Blue River. Not far from Main Street is the Highline Railroad Park & Playground where your little ones can get up close and personal with real (though retired) train cars. From this playground area you can leap over to Isak Heartstone, Breckenridge’s resident troll (a 15-foot wooden sculpture). If you venture on this troll hunt, it’s a walking path only; no bikes allowed.
More Hoppin’ Ideas for Fall in Breckenridge
Wondering what else there is to do in a ski community like Breckenridge during the fall? Here are some other hoppin’ ideas:
- Take a hike and pack a picnic lunch
- Go golfing
- Rent a bike and take a bike ride on the paved Blue River Recreation Path
- Try some new foods (there are more than 70 family-friendly restaurants)
- Fishing (my son Tad loves this one!)
- Tour a museum
Whenever you choose to go, don’t froget that Undercover Tourist offers great deals on hotels in and around Breckenridge!