Friday, July 19, 2013

A Summer Day in Breckenridge, Colorado.

My older brother, sister-in-law, and one of their grandsons visited us last weekend to attend my granddaughter's baptism. Their visit was short, and we wanted to give them a view of the Rocky Mountains before they had to return home, that they couldn't see from the Front Range foothills, where we live. We decided to make a visit to Breckenridge, a little less than an hour and a half drive on I-70 from our area. Here we are approaching the Eisenhower Tunnel.

The Eisenhower Tunnel --officially known as the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, is a dual-core, four-lane vehicular tunnel approximately 50 miles west of Denver, Colorado. The tunnels carry Interstate 70 under the Continental divide in the Rocky Mountains. With a maximum elevation of 11,158 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world. The tunnels are the longest mountain tunnels and the highest point on the interstate highway system. Completed in 1979, it was one of the last major pieces of the Interstate Highway system to be completed. The westbound bore is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the U.S. President for whom the interstate system is also named. The eastbound bore is named for Edwin C. Johnson, a governor and US Senator who lobbied for an interstate highway to be built across Colorado.

One thing for sure, when you exit the tunnel westbound, the Rocky Mountain ranges loom before you!

The descent of the road once out of the tunnel is so steep, that you don't have to give your car any gas to drive for quite a few miles. In fact, it is hard not to burn out your car's breaks by trying to slow down! There are multiple "runaway truck ramps" for trucks that are going too fast and can't slow down. We actually saw one truck on the side of the road a little further down from here, whose breaks were smoking from the descent!

We entered Route 9 south on our way to the town of Breckenridge, located in Summit County, in north central, Colorado and the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Vail is 34 miles to the west, and less than 20 miles from Summit Country's three other ski resorts--Copper Mountain, Keystone, and Arapaho Basin. Founded during the "Pike's Peak Gold Rush" in 1859, the town became a ski resort town in 1961.

Soon we found the town's "Breck Connect" Gondolas and parked in the town's free parking lot.

You can see a billboard of the Breckenridge Ski  Resort ski trails on the mountain at the gondola office. There are 155 ski trails accessed by 30 lifts.  During summer the slopes are used for hiking, scenic chairlift rides, the "Super Slide" and mountain biking, among other available activities.

My extended family and husband posed for a photo before we boarded the free gondola ride.

The gondola ride offers spectacular views of the Cucumber Gulch Preserve on the way up to the Breckenridge Fun Park.

The base elevation is 9,600 feet. The Fun Park has all kinds of activities to buy tickets for, such as mini golf, gemstone panning, "Gold Runner" coaster, super bungee, 4 X 4 truck rides, guided mountain biking, and the Alpine Slide.

My brother, his grandson and my husband all decided to take a ride of the Alpine Super Slide.

My brother and his grandson are on their way up to the top of the track with their slides.

There are three different 2,600 foot long tracks and the riders speed down the mountain on a variety of dips and banked turns. You can see all three members of my family in this photo, about to cross the finish line. They enjoyed the ride very much!

The average snowfall in Breckenridge is 300 inches per season, and there was still some areas of snow on the mountain!

We all decided to take the scenic chairlift ride on the Colorado Super Chair to the 11,059-foot height, that promised picturesque views of the Continental Divide.

We could see the challenging mountain bikes trails down the mountain as we rose higher...

...and higher!

I turned around to see the views behind me...

....quite a few times! My brother and his family were a few chairs behind us.

Here we are approaching the top chair lift station. One has to hop off quickly as the chairs never stop moving.

My brother and his family hopping off.

As soon as we looked around we felt as if we could touch the sky! 

What a glorious place to be! I wore a fleece jacket as I thought it would be cool on the mountain top, but it was in the '70s. My husband and I are used to the high altitude, as we live at around 6,000 feet, but my brother and his family who live at sea level on Long Island, New York, did quite well and did not suffer any ill effects at all.

The total height of the peak we were on was around 12,000+ feet, so we were about 900 feet below the top.

The views were magnificent!

Everywhere we looked we could see ripples of mountain after mountain.

Some of the distant peaks were high above the tree line.

There were views of "purple mountain majesty" on all sides.

We decided to walk one of the trails that were on the slope.

As we climbed higher the views became even more dramatic.

I enjoyed taking photos of the wildflowers I saw as I hiked.

There were so many wonderful colors! The mountain only gets 30 frost free days a year, so the alpine flowers must be hardy.

My sister-in-law walking on the trail. We began to notice that the clouds were getting darker, and we could hear thunder rumbling in the distance, so we began to hurry.

As you can see in this photo, the rain was fast approaching.

We ran back to the ski lift chairs but they were closed due to the thunderstorm, so we were taken down the mountain by the white, four-wheel drive van you can see in the photo.

It was quite a bumpy and exciting ride along many unpaved roads!

The mountains in the distance all but disappeared because of the storm.

Gratefully, we made it all the way down to the base camp where we then boarded a bus that took us down to the parking lot.  It continued to rain hard, and I felt sad that we could not explore the beautiful town of Breckenridge, but I know my husband and I will be able to return again someday soon. There is definitely more we want to see and do in this wonderful area of Colorado, and many more ski towns we hope to visit. We love our new state! We might have traded high NYC buildings for high Colorado mountains, but we haven't lost the thrill of knowing there is so much to see and do! I hope my family is able to come back next time for a longer visit and see more with us.

Have you visited Colorado? What was your favorite sight to see?

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xinex said...

It's been a while since I visited Colorado. Your photos are beautiful, kinda reminds me of Utah where we just went 3 weeks ago. What a fun trip!...Christine

Pamela Gordon said...

Just amazing photos Pat. It's so beautiful. I think I'd be very nervous on the chair lift. It took me a whole winter to be brave enough to get on the chair lift at our little "mountain" ski hill here. My hubby as been to Colorado before on business. Thanks for sharing this little day trip. I know there will be many more to come. Have a great weekend. Pamela

Sharon said...

Reading your post today was bittersweet as I was originally scheduled to be on my way to Colorado this morning for a 2 1/2 week visit. But unexpectedly buying a condo and moving cancelled those plans quickly. So kind of fun to see your post (we were headed towards Estes Park, but love Breck as well). As excited as we are about our move, we'll still miss our trip. Maybe next year!

Noel Morata said...

the clouds are amazing, must be fun to take a lift and come down the slides, I could go for that!

pam said...

The back country around Crested Butte is my favorite. There are many roads leading up into the mountains in Crested Butte and all can be traversed in off road SUV's needed. One of my favorite places in Emerald Lake.
I hope the link I posted works for you. I LOVE getting high in the back country away from people and go looking for waterfalls.

Judy said...

Beautiful! I had to go look it up on the pinpoint exactly where Breckenridge was. It may be a ski resort, but it looks like a fun place to be in the off-season as well. It reminds me of Whistler...where summer is my favorite time to visit.

Lynn said...

Sounds like a beautiful and adventurous day and I'm sure the little guy has many stories to tell:@)

eileeninmd said...

Pat, these are lovely views of the Rocky Mountains. I love the view when you come out of the tunnel. What a fun trip for you and your family. Beautiful photos.

Vee said...

Such a delightful post with absolutely gorgeous pics. I'm so glad that you had family visit. John was very interested in the tunnel. He wonders how often you poke Vinny in the tummy. = D I had to pin one of these photos.

The Gathering Place said...

I absolutely love the Rocky Mountains and you got some beautiful photos. We have similar places near Salt Lake (mainly the ski resorts). We do live in a pretty amazing country.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Oh --I'd love to visit that area.. I love mountains --so I would be in 7th heaven...

When we went to Pikes Peak, both George and I got a little woozy due to the altitude --when we were on top... Guess it takes getting used to!

We've been to CO twice --and I have been 3 times. We have been through that tunnel on I-70... My favorite places we have visited at Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mtn. National Park.


Pondside said...

Gorgeous! I'll bet your family had a wonderful time. The water slide looks like a lot of fun! You have chosen a beautiful part of the world for your new home.

My name is Riet said...

Your new country is so beautiful Pat. The Rocky mountains, wow what a view. Imagine what it will be like when there is all that snow. A fairytale country. It looks a bit like Austria and Switserland and the Alps.
Your family must have been so excited to visit you .
Have a nice weekend

Beverly said...

Majestic truly is the word to describe these glorious views.

Thank you for always sharing, Pat. Your photos are stunning.

Anonymous said...

My husband has been out to Colorado on motorcycle trips with his friends and says it is a beautiful state. Since I have not been, I enjoy the trips that you take us on through your posts.

podso said...

Your photos look like postcards. Such beautiful views. I'm amazed your Brooklyn relatives could hike at that altitude. You captured the oncoming storm so well... it reminds me of seeing the storms come when we were at the Grand Canyon. The baptism photos are lovely. what a special family time you had. How is the babysitting going?

Rajesh said...

Very memorable trip. Beautiful shots of the place with such amazing landscapes.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing these beautiful images. CO in the summer is always so pretty! Glad you are enjoying the sights.

Old Kitty said...

Wow!! That chalet and the chairlifts and the alpine flowers remind me of the Swiss mountains!! How lovely!! Awwww but look at those slides - I'd have wanted to do that asap! LOL!

Awwwww happy baptism to your beautiful granddaughter!!

I hope you don't mind me saying but the tunnel (Eisenhower Tunnel) looks so out of place with the rugged gloriously majestic mountains as a backdrop - I guess it's cos it's so angular and rigid and metal! LOL!

Take care

Fun60 said...

What beautiful views. I have never been to Colorado but would love to visit one day.

Debra at HOMESPUN: said...

I think that going down that slide would be a blast! :)

Unknown said...

Beautiful mountain shots!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

La Petite Gallery said...

Boy! Does this bring bake wonderful Memories, Rabbit Ear Pass, and Breckenridge, in 1963. My Husband was a Jazz musician and club owner. We were up there in the winter and the ride up to the resort and Jazz club was hair raising. I was on the floorboard in the back seat,scared
to death. There were no side railings and a 2 way road. Being from Houston
I was freaked out..I like the coast and little mountains.. You must have had a ball.


SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What a fun place to visit! Too bad you didn't get to look around the town but there's always next time :)

Gracey is not my name.... said...

I just took a 17 day road trip to Wyoming and back (CT) with my nephew. We went from Wyoming and spent the day in Fort Collins, CO....the differences in land and features are just amazing...we went up into the Snowy Mountains in Wyoming, as we stayed in Laramie for 3 days...just amazing...I'd love to see more of Colorado...we did drive through Denver..I just love seeing how different our country is..I did blog about the trip if you are interested..

diane b said...

I'll have to join "Fun60" and go to Colorado one day. The mountain views are fabulous.You sure had an exciting day. Slides, cable cars, chairlifts , hiking and getting stranded in a storm. We don't have any mountains that high here in Oz. I'm not sure how I would handle the altitude, although I never had problems in Switzerland. The alpine flowers are beautiful.

Proud Italian Cook said...

You're having so much fun aren't you Pat! The views are so majestic there you must be in awe when you look out. We've been to Estes Park several times, I remember my "hippie" years when we camped up there, those were the days. I can't wait til you visit there so I could reminisce!

Huldra said...

What a fun trip and spectacular view! Thank you for sharing :)