Experience Authentic Mountain Culture in Breckenridge

Breckenridge is a world renowned skiing destination. Nestled at the base of the Tenmile Range, Breckenridge lies in the shadow of some of the most beautiful peaks in Colorado.

The range starts above the town of Frisco with Peak 1 (12,805 feet) and continues all the way above Breck with Peak 10 (13,640) and Quandary Peak (14,265 feet).

Breck is a unique, huge and diverse playground. During the long winter season, the ski resort snakes across five peaks in the Tenmile Range. Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 boast miles and miles of runs and some of the best Alpine skiing and snowboarding in the world. It’s very hard to do a run more than once, even if you try.

Outside the resort, single track trails open to the winter versions of summer sports: fat bikes, Nordic skiing, ad snowshoeing. Breck is one of those places that makes playing a full-time job.

Breckenridge is one of a kind, but what makes it unique and gives it a special place in my heart is  the people who populate the town year-round. Breck is a working, living community and not just a tourist magnet. I spend part of the year in Breck, in both summer and winter, and what brings me back, beyond the awesome playground, is the people who call Breck home.

Nobody lives in Breckenridge because they have to; everyone lives here because they want to. It’s a very different mindset, and Breck’s residents share a common passion, respect and yearning for the mountains. Everyone is a lover of the outdoors and spends as much time as possible outside.

Francesca hits the trails above Breckenridge in summer

Another quality I appreciate in Breck is the authentic quality of the shops and businesses. You don’t see Prada, Valentino or Louis Vuitton. You see local stores like Vertical Runner Breckenridge where my friend Molly works. Vertical Runner is 100% Breck and 100% local, and on any given day, a lot of my friends hang out there, coming from a run or from the slopes to stop by and say hello. With a thriving Born in the Mountains mentality, Breck would be an ideal location for another brick-and-mortar KÜHL store like the one in Park City, Utah.

For me, a typical winter day in Breck involves a run in the morning, a latte from Clint’s Bakery and Coffee House, and a couple hours on the slopes with my friend Drew, who is a professor at Colorado Mountain College and married to Molly. After the slopes, Drew and I snowboard off Peak 9 and straight onto Main Street, where we cross the road and meet up with Molly, Gill and Sean at Empire Burger for lunch.

Among the group, there is always a discussion about the choice between Empire Burger and Flip Side, both excellent but slightly different. My vote is for Flip Side because I’m Italian, and they have a good fresh mozzarella salad. I am however outvoted so we sit down at Empire Burger. During lunch, I complain to Drew about the bad waxing job I did on my board, and he tells me to bring it his friends, who just did an awesome job on his skis in only a few hours. The last time I tried to get my snowboard tuned in Charlottesville, the waiting list was six days long.

Plans for the week include cross country skiing in Frisco or at French Gulch with the group. Molly and I discuss he arrival of more snow which will allow us to go snowboarding off-piste on Mount Baldy. The following morning, I go for a run with Sean in Frisco on the Peaks Trail. After the run, we meet Gill at the Butterhorn Bakery, the best place for breakfast in Summit County, where we chat with Eko, the manager and his wife, who also works at the Butterhorn. We talk about their two kids and what a safe place Summit County is to raise them. During lunch, chatting about races past and future, the gentleman sitting next to us introduces himself. He lives in Summit County and is a runner and would love to hook up for a long run sometimes.

Breck, Frisco and Summit County are places where I can be myself in the mountains with friends who enjoy it as much as I do. They understand that spending time outside is my first priority because it’s the same for them.

It’s a mutual understanding normally hard to find. In Breck, it exists in heavy concentration. That’s what keeps me coming back, season after season, year after year.

When the mountains heat up, Francesca stays cool in Sora Tank

Francesca Conte

Francesca Conte is a professional runner, race director, and co-founder of Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports. She has won numerous 50K, 50 mile and 100 mile races. Born in Italy amidst the Alps, Francesca is now a proud U.S. citizen and splits her time between Virginia and Colorado.