Breckenridge Is on Fire! Ten Reasons Why It's One of Colorado's Coolest Towns

On the afternoon of July 5, a wildfire flared in the Peak 2 area of the White River National Forest, and a thick cylinder of smoke loomed above Breckenridge. The entire town was put on evacuation alert, and 460 homes in the Peak 7 development were evacuated (and remain evacuated). But then the wind shifted, and while firefighters continued working hard from the air and the ground to contain the 84-acre fire, residents and tourists alike could breathe a sigh of relief.

That's because Breckenridge is a true Colorado treasure for a variety of reasons that haven't been mentioned in all of the fire coverage. Here are ten things that make Breckenridge one of the very coolest places in Colorado.

Peak 7 at Breckenridge in April.EXPAND
Peak 7 at Breckenridge in April.
David Axelrod

10. Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge existed long before skiing came to this mining town. The idea of building a resort here didn't emerge until the late ’50s, when a group of locals created the Summit County Development Corporation and started exploring the possibilities. A report issued by the U.S. Forest Service in April 1961 recommended terrain below timberline on Peak 8; on December 16, 1961, the Peak 8 Ski Area opened with one Heron double chair and one short learners' T-bar; lift tickets were $4 for an adult and $2.50 for children. And it was all downhill from there: More than fifty years later, Breck is one of the most popular mountains in the world, with terrain for everyone and activities in both winter and summer.

Ice, ice baby.EXPAND
Ice, ice baby.

9. Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Festival
Breckenridge is home to many winter festivals, including the ULLR Fest, which will celebrate its 55th birthday next year. But when it comes to cool, you can't beat the Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Festival, which will return January 22 through January 29, 2018.

Breckenridge is home to one of Colorado's certified Creative Districts.
Breckenridge is home to one of Colorado's certified Creative Districts.

8. The Breckenridge Arts District
The Victorian storefronts and mining cabins of Breckenridge have been saved, sometimes moved, and are now part of the Breckenridge Arts District, which is one of 21 certified spots in the Colorado Creative Industries Creative District Program. The multi-facility, one-acre campus hosts performances by arts groups young and old, workshops, exhibits, tours, artists-in-residence and a variety of other activities for locals and visitors alike. And the public restrooms are in the old Burro Barn. How cool is that? Both Colorado Downtown Inc. and Colorado Creative Industries held their annual conventions here in May. And in April, SMU's National Center for Arts Research ranked Breckenridge as the top small community (population under 100,000) in the country in its third annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which ranks the country's cultural "hotbeds."

Breckenridge made waves with WAVE.
Breckenridge made waves with WAVE.
Breckenridge Creative Arts

7. WAVE: Light + Water + Sound
Breckenridge has plenty of summer festivals, too, including the internationally renowned Breckenridge Music Festival. And in the Best of Denver 2017, we proclaimed WAVE the Best New Festival. BreckCreate aims a little higher than the usual mountain-town arts organization, we noted, taking simple "festivals" to new levels. WAVE, an early-season spectacle inspired by Scottsdale's Canal Convergence that debuted in Breckenridge last summer, spread interactive artworks and music throughout the town, inviting tourists and townies alike to experience a big-city art experience at a higher elevation. We can't wait to see what 2018 brings.

Bright lights, little city.EXPAND
Bright lights, little city.
David Axelrod

6. A Real Main Street
Sure, Breckenridge has been invaded by chains. Still, beneath all that glitz and glamour, there's a real main street that dates back more than a century. And you'll find some homegrown businesses on that street, too, including two of our favorites: Crepes a la Cart, which slings crepes every day but Monday from its post at 307 Main Street; and Climax Jerky, which got its start on Fremont Pass in 1999 and today has carts at Denver International Airport, in Frisco, and at Lincoln and Main in Breck.

Keep reading for five more things we love about Breckenridge.

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