Places to Visit in Summit County, Colorado
Summit County, Colorado is probably one of our favorite places on Earth! It’s where we’re getting married, it’s our first choice for any ski trip, we just really love so much about it! There are lots of ski resorts and towns that make up beautiful Summit County, and I’m going to briefly talk about each one in today’s post – I’ll go more in-depth on our favorite places in future posts.
One of the best things about Summit County is that it is so easy to get to. You fly directly into Denver, and it’s less than a two-hour drive out I-70 through absolutely beautiful scenery the entire way.
In no particular order, here are the towns and resorts that make up Summit County, Colorado:
Breck is probably the most well-known area in Summit County, and it’s probably the biggest, too. Breckenridge is both a ski resort and a town, so there is SO MUCH to do.
If you’re going to Breck to ski, you’re in luck, because this ski resort is massive. There are 34 lifts and 187 trails spread across 5 different peaks. There is a wide variety of terrain available, which makes it an ideal spot when you’re traveling with people that have different skill levels. It’s also one of the best areas for beginners, with the majority of the beginner terrain grouped together to make it easy for those learning. Advanced skiers will enjoy Breck’s awesome terrain parks and pipes, as well as the many black and double black diamond runs, moguls, tree areas and bowls.
When you’re not on the mountain, there is plenty to keep you occupied in Breckenridge. The town originally started as a gold rush location in the mid-1800s, and you can see the history everywhere you turn. The historic downtown has plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy for hours, and a newly formed Arts District gives you access to galleries, museums and studios where you can browse, shop or even take classes.
Another great thing about Breck being so big is that there are plenty of places to stay. There are hotels, condos, lodges and more that you can book directly through the ski resort, as well as plenty of options and price points on Airbnb and VRBO.
Frisco is perhaps our favorite little town in the area (and the reason our pup is named Frisco, too!). It’s just a town with no ski resort, but it has lots of restaurants and shops along the main road, and it’s conveniently located in between several popular ski resorts. We stayed here on our last ski trip and used it as our base camp, as we skied several different resorts that trip through the Epic Pass. It does have a Nordic center for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, etc. and it has a marina and adventure park for summer and fall visitors.
Read my full guide to Frisco, Colorado here: stewartsridge.com/your-guide-to-frisco-colorado.
Keystone is exclusively a ski resort, and it’s where we are getting married in March! One of the things that sets Keystone apart is its night skiing – Powderhounds actually rates Keystone as some of the best night skiing in the US. Keystone has 20 lifts and 128 trails, and is really ideal for intermediate skiers. Advanced skiers will also enjoy the cat and bowl skiing found at Keystone, as well as the terrain parks and pipes.
In addition to the skiing, the resort itself has plenty of restaurants and activities to keep families busy. Keystone is divided into five distinct areas:
- West Keystone is home to Keystone Ranch and two golf courses, and quite a few impressive homes.
- Lakeside Village is where the Keystone Lodge & Spa is located, a beautiful hotel and spa that overlooks the lake, which turns into an ice skating rink in the winter. The new conference center is located here, as is the tennis center, fitness center, pottery studio, and activities center.
- Mountain House is located in the center of Keystone, and is the original base of operations. Many of the lodging options here are walkable to a ski lift, and the brand-new Hyatt Place Keystone can be found here.
- River Run Village is perhaps the most popular area in Keystone, and is the main place for the public to access the ski resort. There’s a mini ice rink here in the winter and a playground in summertime, and it’s also where you’ll find the most shopping and dining options. Kidtopia is also located at River Run Village.
- East Keystone is a quiet area that’s more like a traditional neighborhood surrounded by trees and the Snake River. East Keystone is also home to the historic Ski Tip Lodge.
Considered the heart of Summit County, Silverthorne was originally built to house the workers building the Dillon Dam. Today, it’s the major retail destination for the area and is home to a long list of restaurants, lodging opportunities and businesses. There are also quite a few parks for outdoor recreation, and plenty of winter activities including sledding and snowshoeing. Silverthorne is also the home of Red Gerard, one of the best boarders in the game right now!
Dillon is another town that doesn’t have a ski resort, but it’s a central location between several. A fairly small town, Dillon has a beautiful lake and marina (it’s the same lake that the town of Frisco is located on!), an amphitheater home to a variety of events, a farmers market, and several places to shop and dine. One of Blake’s favorite restaurants in the area, Dillon Dam Brewery, is located here! Like most places in Colorado, Dillon has an abundance of outdoor activities and green space to enjoy year-round.
Known as A-Basin, The Basin or The Legend, Arapahoe Basin is where purists go to ski and ride. With perhaps the longest ski season in Colorado, this ski destination isn’t a resort – it’s just a mountain with a true parking lot party at The Beach! There are 147 runs and 9 lifts at A-Basin, with about 75% of the runs in the most difficult or extreme categories (meaning this is really no place for beginners!).
Copper Mountain is the first place I skied out West, and it’s still one of my favorite places to ski in terms of terrain. Copper is exclusively a ski resort, and it’s the training ground for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team. With 24 lifts and over 140 runs, there’s a little something for everyone at Copper. One-quarter of the terrain is beginner and another 25% is intermediate, which makes it ideal for families and first-time skiers. Copper Mountain is also home to an alpine coaster, tubing hill, and plenty of other activities for everyone to enjoy.
Probably the least known area in Summit County, Heeney is home to the Green Mountain Reservoir. There’s a bait shop and marina here, but outside of residential homes and vacation rentals, Heeney is exclusively about the reservoir and being outdoors! You can camp, fish, hike and boat here – in fact, this reservoir has a high sterling population and the river that flows into it offers world-class trout fishing.
Have you had the opportunity to visit Summit County, Colorado? Let me know your favorite place, or where you’d like to visit first!