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Breckenridge. Simply saying this one single word brings a flood of good memories of great times. The mountain. The trails. The hotel where I always stay. The town. The snow. City Market. Giampietro’s. Wow. Just writing about this makes me want to fly out there right now.

I love and miss “Breck” dearly, as it’s affectionately known by the locals. Outdoor enthusiasts like me are drawn year round to Breck for its quiet tranquil beauty and abundant activities. Yes, Break has it all with its many hiking and biking trails, fly-fishing in the Blue River, boating in nearby Lake Dillon, and of course for its excellent skiing.

Now entering its 51st season, the Breckenridge ski resort boasts a summit elevation of 12,998 feet and offers over 2,350 acres of ski and snowboarding trails across four peaks on the Ten Mile Range of the Rocky Mountains. Groomed daily, there are 155 trails with Four O’Clock trail the longest at 3.5 miles, 772 skiable acres in the back bowls, and 25 acres in the terrain parks for borders. The total lift capacity is 37,880 skiers per hour with 31 total lifts, including two high-speed 6-passenger SuperChairs, seven high-speed quad lifts, one triple lift, six double lifts, one 8-passenger gondola, five surface lifts, and nine carpet lifts. Lift hours of operation on the mountain is typically from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with the BreckConnect gondola (named by a friend of mine in a naming contest!) open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Breck already has snow as I write this, with opening day just over a month away on Friday, November 9, 2012. If you buy your lift tickets now and before November 16, you can get the 2011/2012 season prices. An adult one-day pass is $67, going up to $76 in mid-November to even increasingly higher costs in late November, December and January when it finally peaks in price. Seasonal passes are available with deep discounts given to those living in Colorado. The 2012/2013 ski season for Breckenridge will close after April 14, 2013, weather permitting.

Now let’s not forget the town of Breckenridge! Named after former Vice President of the United States, John C. Breckinridge, this charming town offers its residents and visitors many restaurants and shops to explore, in addition to theatre, comedy clubs, and hands-on crafts such as pottery painting. There are festivals held year round, such as the Snow Sculpture Championships and the Ullr Fest parade in the winter and the Breckenridge Festival of Film and Jazz Festival in the summer. Plus historical tours, train and boat rides, cycling races, and more. The charming old mining town is also the county seat of Summit County, home of several other excellent ski resorts, including Keystone, Copper and A-Basin, only a short drive away.

So if you are thinking of taking a winter ski trip this year, may it be a romantic getaway for two or a fun family vacation, escape to Breckenridge in Colorado and discover world-class skiing, breathtaking surroundings and an authentic Old West town rich in history. Your adventure awaits you!

Accommodations: Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, Breckenridge, 620 Village Road, Breckenridge, CO 80424 (970) 453-6000 http://www.beaverrun.com/ for ski-in ski-out access to the Beaver Run Super Chair and the Quicksilver Six chairlifts. Mountain Thunder Lodge, 50 Mountain Thunder Drive, Breckenridge, CO 80424 (970) 547-5650 http://www.breckresorts.com/mountain-thunder-lodge.aspx for cosmopolitan luxury, in a rustic mountain setting. Book early!

Onsite Activities: Beaver Run Resort: ski-in ski-out for downhill skiing and snowboarding, spa, gym, swimming, dinning. Mountain Thunder Lodge: Ski-in / Gondola-out for downhill skiing and snowboarding, gym, swimming, bowling alley, movie lounges, game room, dinning.

Nearby Activities: WINTER – carriage rides, cross-country skiing, ice skating, Nordic skiing, skiing, sledding, snow sculpture contests, snow kiting, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding, sleigh rides, tubing; SUMMER – whitewater rafting, hiking, fishing, horseback hiding, biking, triathlons, golf, boat rentals and tours, hot air balloon rides, jeep adventure rides, music festivals, fun park.

Getting There: Breckenridge is located two hours (104 miles) from the Denver International Airport (DEN) with easy access from I-70. All major car rentals are available at the airport as well as shuttle service to Breckenridge. Additional airport options include Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), about 63 miles away, and Colorado Springs Airport (COS), 110 miles from Breckenridge.

Special Note: Hands down the BEST PIZZA EVER is served at Giampietro Pasta and Pizzeria! Voted by the locals as the “Best Pizza in Summit County” for the past eight years, Giampietro’s has been making its popular New York and Sicilian-style pizzas and Italian dishes for well over 10 years. Everything is homemade and incredibly delicious from their classic baked ziti to spaghetti with shrimp and pesto. You can also build your own calzone or pizza from their huge list of ingredients. Get there early to get a table or be prepared to wait! Giampietro Pasta and Pizzeria, 100 N Main Street, # 212, Breckenridge, CO 80424 (970) 453-3838 http://giampietropizza.com/.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.