Early Season Trip to Breckenridge December 2024
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Timothy.grasso
29 days ago (edited 29 days ago)
Member since 11/20/2018 🔗
70 posts

We are planning an early season trip to Breckenridge, December 14-18 2024.  We are flying United from Dulles (we have the United credit card so skis/bags are FREE).

We have reserved a condo at Ski Hill Condo right on Peak 8 which should be the peak that opens for early season turns.  2 adults and 1 child will be skiing and bringing my mom with us so my wife and I can have some time without child to ski or go to dinner/drinks. Noah is a confident 7 year old skier that can now handle Timberline blacks (he is linking up turns, skiing parallel and starting to edge) so he should be okay with west coast blues.  He will probably spend each day in ski school because our goal is to have this experience to really help him grow as a skier. 

I have pre-booked a Tahoe with Enterprise but can't 100% determine if it will be AWD, however, I am having a hard time believing it won't be AWD.  For the days we are there its around $600 total, however, I could go with another company and guarantee an AWD Tahoe for $950.  I know early season snow isn't too bad but I did Winter Park this season in early December and there were 2 days of 10inch dumps.  Just trying to plan ahead.

We are also doing a family trip to Beaver Creek in March 2025 so we really want to prepare Noah.  We are going to try to get him into the Whitetail weekend program and we will ski EPIC this year with a little Bryce sprinkled in.

Any advice for Breckenridge, especially early season?  Should I be concerned about the AWD?  Is there a grocery store near peak 8 or near the gondola?

MarkJ
29 days ago (edited 29 days ago)
Member since 02/4/2022 🔗
14 posts

I used to do Breck early season a lot.  I gave it up since peak 10, which is where my favorite blacks are, isn't usually open until Xmas.  That shouldn't be a problem for you if you mostly want blues.  Peak 8 and 9 should have a lot of trails open.  For me the main challenge of Breck is altitude.  Town is around 9600 feet so if anyone in your family has altitude issues Breck will bring them out.  If I ever go to Breck now I like to stay at lower altitude for a few days before I get there.  It makes a big difference.  But if you all don't have altitude problems it won't matter.  But its something people don't think about until they get there and have headaches all week.  

As far as the vehicle, it is tough to predict if you will need AWD.  Breck isn't a bad drive, unless you get a bunch of snow.  The only really tough area is around the Eisenhower tunnel.  And that isn't all that bad unless there is a big storm.  There are no steep windy passes or anything of that sort.  

For groceries I always went to City Market, but that isn't close to peak 8, but it isn't all that far from the gondola. 

I really like Beaver Creek.  Family went there last Xmas and stayed in Avon.  Great place, doesn't have the crowds that the Summit resorts do.  And it's easy to take the bus over to Vail when you want some variety.  

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
29 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
3,245 posts

I drove around the base of Keystone and Breck in mid-December after finishing up a few days checking out Vail and BC.  I was in my own AWD RAV4 with M/S tires.  For that particular week, it was fine.

You might consider having two reservations for the car rental.  Then cancel the one that isn't necessary closer to the date.

Since I'm a Costco member, I use Costco Travel for car rentals.  Learned last month that when renting in SLC, I could get a guaranteed AWD by calling Costco and being transferred to an Avis agent who could book wha I wanted and give me the Costco discount.  It was an unusual situation of a last minute booking because my ski/travel buddy's AWD SUV with ski boxes ended up in the shop at the wrong time.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
29 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
3,245 posts
FYI, my daughter was skiing the black trails at Massanutten by age 6.  She started ski school at age 4, but we were only skiing 10-14 days those first few seasons.  Her first trip out west was to Alta for a spring break trip when she was 7.  After a day in Alta ski school, she was having a ball on pretty much any blue groomer.  That included skiing through any untracked snow on the edges.
Sporttracski
28 days ago
Member since 03/3/2023 🔗
13 posts

I wouldn’t worry too much about the rental vehicle given you’ve reserved a Chevy Tahoe SUV (or similar). I’ve been to Colorado to go skiing a few times and have rented through National each time. National did not have the option to guarantee AWD (that I can recall). We rented the least expensive SUV each time, and were always given an SUV with AWD/4WD. They know people renting cars from Denver are often headed into the mountains so purchase for their rental car fleet accordingly. I haven’t rented through Enterprise at the Denver airport but I assume they run similarly to National and that renting an SUV will almost certainly give you a vehicle with AWD/4WD. I would tell them when you’re picking the vehicle up that you’re headed into the mountains, and you could call ahead to add a note to your reservation, but I wouldn’t be too concerned. 

One of the times we drove from the airport to Frisco as it was snowing (think it snowed 9 in that night) in the late evening on a Friday and it was fine, just slow going. 

Would recommend staying in Denver for a day or so if you can before heading to Breck, especially as the altitude can affect kids and older folks more than other groups. It’s tough, especially since air travel is dehydrating, heading immediately to 9000 ft elevation. Just my two cents gained from experience (got altitude sickness one of the times I went straight from the airport to Frisco and wasn’t fun to have a headache for most of my trip).

Timothy.grasso wrote:

We are planning an early season trip to Breckenridge, December 14-18 2024.  We are flying United from Dulles (we have the United credit card so skis/bags are FREE).

We have reserved a condo at Ski Hill Condo right on Peak 8 which should be the peak that opens for early season turns.  2 adults and 1 child will be skiing and bringing my mom with us so my wife and I can have some time without child to ski or go to dinner/drinks. Noah is a confident 7 year old skier that can now handle Timberline blacks (he is linking up turns, skiing parallel and starting to edge) so he should be okay with west coast blues.  He will probably spend each day in ski school because our goal is to have this experience to really help him grow as a skier. 

I have pre-booked a Tahoe with Enterprise but can't 100% determine if it will be AWD, however, I am having a hard time believing it won't be AWD.  For the days we are there its around $600 total, however, I could go with another company and guarantee an AWD Tahoe for $950.  I know early season snow isn't too bad but I did Winter Park this season in early December and there were 2 days of 10inch dumps.  Just trying to plan ahead.

We are also doing a family trip to Beaver Creek in March 2025 so we really want to prepare Noah.  We are going to try to get him into the Whitetail weekend program and we will ski EPIC this year with a little Bryce sprinkled in.

Any advice for Breckenridge, especially early season?  Should I be concerned about the AWD?  Is there a grocery store near peak 8 or near the gondola?

 

Stephen
28 days ago
Member since 02/16/2024 🔗
29 posts

I've struggled with the AWD question every trip.  Even if I feel it's unlikely to have snow, I don't want to give up on the idea that I'll have to drive in snow, because that also gives up on the dream of having an epic powder day.  They don't make it easy, because the guaranteed AWD options I've found are much more expensive.  I read that the big SUVs will be AWD especially in Denver, but last time I went, I reserved a Jeep Grand Cherokee from Sixt, and it was not AWD.  For another $180 they upgraded me to a BMW X5 AWD.  I didn't really need it.  I've also had cars that weren't AWD and it turned out I didn't need it.  I've had cars that were AWD, and I did need it.  The worst things ever got for me was at Tahoe where I didn't have an AWD, and it was impossible to get one.  We bought chains for the car, and got through to one of the best powder days of my life.  At that time Tahoe authorities would make you chain up or have an AWD if there was a snowflake on the road, but we legitimately needed it.  The problem with waiting to see if you'll need it is that by the time you know, lots of people know, and all the AWDs are booked.

Timothy.grasso wrote:

We are planning an early season trip to Breckenridge, December 14-18 2024.  We are flying United from Dulles (we have the United credit card so skis/bags are FREE).

We have reserved a condo at Ski Hill Condo right on Peak 8 which should be the peak that opens for early season turns.  2 adults and 1 child will be skiing and bringing my mom with us so my wife and I can have some time without child to ski or go to dinner/drinks. Noah is a confident 7 year old skier that can now handle Timberline blacks (he is linking up turns, skiing parallel and starting to edge) so he should be okay with west coast blues.  He will probably spend each day in ski school because our goal is to have this experience to really help him grow as a skier. 

I have pre-booked a Tahoe with Enterprise but can't 100% determine if it will be AWD, however, I am having a hard time believing it won't be AWD.  For the days we are there its around $600 total, however, I could go with another company and guarantee an AWD Tahoe for $950.  I know early season snow isn't too bad but I did Winter Park this season in early December and there were 2 days of 10inch dumps.  Just trying to plan ahead.

We are also doing a family trip to Beaver Creek in March 2025 so we really want to prepare Noah.  We are going to try to get him into the Whitetail weekend program and we will ski EPIC this year with a little Bryce sprinkled in.

Any advice for Breckenridge, especially early season?  Should I be concerned about the AWD?  Is there a grocery store near peak 8 or near the gondola?

Timothy.grasso
28 days ago
Member since 11/20/2018 🔗
70 posts

Thanks for the insight.  I am going to keep my Enterprise rental and add in another rental such as Mile High Car Rental that guarantees an AWD Tahoe and has a free cancellation up to 2 weeks prior. That way, I can gauge the weather and make a good decision.

I understand the altitude sickness cautions, unfortunately, we don't have the time for a few extra days.  The AS doesn't seem to bother me too much when I went to Winter Park this December.  My wife is good with it and my mom doesn't seem to be too bothered. My son is an unknown, we will just hydrate, hydrate some more!  

bob
26 days ago
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
755 posts

Bear in mind that the state of Colorado requires either chains or AWD/4WD on I70 during snow season. You can be sure that the Denver car rental companies won't be renting RWD SuVs. Keep checking prices regularaly, and you might find a day or two where prices drop. Typically, Payless and Fox offer the lowest prices. Book thru Southwest (and maybe others) and you can score a 10% discount st Payless.

As far as Breck early season goes. Peak 8 opens first, followed by Peak 9. You might find a few blacks open by mid December. You might have a few trails open on Peak 7. I would not expect any  above tree line runs to be open unless there is lots of ealry season snow.

Timothy.grasso wrote:

Thanks for the insight.  I am going to keep my Enterprise rental and add in another rental such as Mile High Car Rental that guarantees an AWD Tahoe and has a free cancellation up to 2 weeks prior. That way, I can gauge the weather and make a good decision.

I understand the altitude sickness cautions, unfortunately, we don't have the time for a few extra days.  The AS doesn't seem to bother me too much when I went to Winter Park this December.  My wife is good with it and my mom doesn't seem to be too bothered. My son is an unknown, we will just hydrate, hydrate some more!  

rbrtlav
23 days ago (edited 23 days ago)
Member since 12/2/2008 🔗
578 posts
A few other notes to add. 

Remember trail ratings are by resort and have no expectation of being consistent from resort to resort. Most of the family style blue trails at breck are relatively easy imo, and after a few days at breck will be great for everyone. I would start with the great trails off quicksilver and the five chair, but most of peak 8 and 9 are pretty family friendly. Beaver creek on the other hand has McCoy park and red buffalo with great green trails. The blues off arrowhead are fun and not very daunting imo as well. However many of the blue trails in other places have fairly long and sustained steep sections, that would make the on par with the black diamonds at breck. 

The city market (owned by Kroger, so your Harris teeter member phone number works) in breck is right in town and will have everything you need. You may save a bit of money picking up some things at wal mart a bit further away in frisco or Costco as you leave Denver, but getting food won’t be an issue. 
fosphenytoin - DCSki Supporter 
5 days ago
Member since 12/20/2017 🔗
169 posts
Visited B'ridge 3x in the past 4 years.  1st trip had car rental, stayed at Grand Timber Lodge (time share) for 1 week in March.  We ended up using hotel free shuttle the entire time, never had to drive.  2nd time was early season in late November and stayed at Grand Timber Lodge for 1 week again.  We decided not to rent car and relied on hotel shuttle.  3rd visit we stayed at hotel near 4 O'clock run (near Peak 8), very close to town and peak 8 gondola.  Did not rent car that trip also.  
As someone mentioned already, there is a City Market supermarket near gondola.  We did all our grocery shopping there and cooked our own meals.
If you have Epic pass, you can consider visiting Keystone.  I found it has more trails open in early season.  There is a free bus to Keystone and A-basin.  Bus station is located near Peak 8 as I recall.  I spent most days skiing in Keystone in my 2nd visit since it was early season.  Runs are longer and snow condition was better.   If you have rental, it'd be more convenient to drive there.  



JohnL
5 days ago (edited 5 days ago)
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,551 posts

Timothy.grasso wrote:

I have pre-booked a Tahoe with Enterprise but can't 100% determine if it will be AWD, however, I am having a hard time believing it won't be AWD.  For the days we are there its around $600 total, however, I could go with another company and guarantee an AWD Tahoe for $950.  I know early season snow isn't too bad but I did Winter Park this season in early December and there were 2 days of 10inch dumps.  Just trying to plan ahead.

 My friend booked an SUV out of Denver that turned out not to be a 4wd/AWD. It was a decent sized vehicle and from a prominent company. I don’t remember all the specs since I was a passenger.

I do remember barely making it out of the flat main parking lot at Copper at the end of a pow day. Took a lot of pushing and me running beside the slowly moving SUV, yelling at the driver to not stop, I’ll catch up. I hopped inside once we had enough speed.

Ironically, we had just pushed out a stuck sedan. Then we looked at how much snow was around our vehicle … Only a foot, but experienced winter driver was having issues during the trip with car’s traction.

YMMV. But I would not trust any rental car company to be competent. Too many bad experiences. And don’t expect a snow brush in your vehicle.

bob
5 days ago
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
755 posts


 

fosphenytoin wrote:

  There is a free bus to Keystone and A-basin.  Bus station is located near Peak 8 as I recall.  I spent most days skiing in Keystone in my 2nd visit since it was early season.  Runs are longer and snow condition was better.   If you have rental, it'd be more convenient to drive there.  


Actually, the bus to Keystone departs from the Breck Transfer Center, which is a couple of hundred feet south of the gondola base. You can also get to Copper via bus, leaving Breck from the same place. You would have to change to a second bus in Frisco - at the Frisco Transfer Center.

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