The following travel considerations are for the purposes of awareness and informed planning. None of the topics below should be cause for concern. Millions of people from all over the world visit Summit County annually and have an absolute blast. Informed preparedness will only amplify your ability to focus on family and fun…which is what vacations should be about!
WINTER DRIVING AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
Depending on your planned routes, time of year, and weather during your trip, you will almost certainly experience winter driving conditions including but not limited to: icy or snow-covered roads, deep snow or even road closures. We recommend you monitor road condition reports (www.cotrip.org/map.htm#/roadConditions) closely on days where any extended travel or unfamiliar travel routes are planned. We also strongly recommend an AWD or 4WD vehicle for your travel. This is often even a requirement for reaching many Breckenridge rental locations. Snow tires are recommended, and during certain conditions, tire-chains are required by law. We can assist in securing you a shuttle or professional driver if this is preferred.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS AND DRY AIR:
Altitude sickness is a real thing. While everyone responds to altitude differently and many people are minimally affected, some, even healthy young people, can respond more severely. So discourage anyone from pushing themselves if they have symptoms especially early in the trip. Symptoms can include: accelerated exhaustion, light-headedness, headaches, shortness of breath, or feeling nauseous or overly tired. Ease yourself into the higher altitude if you can either by spending a day down in Denver before heading up the mountain, or at least taking it easy the first day or two. Tobacco, alcohol, and other depressants make altitude sickness worse. Lots of water and rest can help. Portable cans of concentrated oxygen are sold at many local stores. You can also visit one of the local “oxygen bars” or even have oxygen delivered to help offset the impact of any altitude sickness. A few options: www.theoxygenguys.com or www.peakoxygen.com
The most consistent truth about Breckenridge or Summit County weather, is that it is not consistent. Mountain weather can change quickly and vary greatly between morning and mid-day. Summer days are usually very pleasant and enjoyable, but can include temperature swings between the low 40’s in the morning and the upper 70’s in the afternoon. Afternoon thunderstorms are also common in the summer. Layering and keeping rain apparel nearby is a good idea. Winter climates similarly can contain notable swings in temperature. A cloudy and windy day with temperatures at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit obviously requires appropriate clothing and caution. A winter day in the 30’s with little wind and sunshine will often feel quite mild and pleasant. Knowing the daily forecast, while again layering (preferably synthetic, breathable materials) is the key.
SUN OR SUNBURN:
At high altitudes, the atmosphere is thinner and the sun is up to 40% stronger than at low altitudes. Reflection off the snow or water can exacerbate this even further. Multiple daily applications of quality sun screen is a good idea. Also, make sure each family member is prepared with eyecare that has sufficient UV protection.
The mountains of Colorado are home to an array of outstanding wildlife. most of which are harmless and a treat to see. It is fairly common to see fox, deer, and elk depending on the season. In most cases…especially anywhere near populated areas, sightings of potentially threatening species are rare. Black bear and moose are around, but are fairly rare to see. Mountain lion, and lynx are nearly absent from Summit County, but there have been sightings. In most cases, all such species will run when they sense humans. If hiking in secluded wilderness areas, stay in groups when possible, and maintain conversation to let anything potentially dangerous know you are coming. Noise is usually the best deterrent.
GENERAL CULTURE AND ATMOSPHERE:
Breckenridge and nearby communities are very relaxed and laid-back places to vacation or spend time. There is little pretense or cultural expectation of anything other than people having a good time and respecting others wanting to do the same. Family is an emphasis, but by no means a requirement. Couples or individuals will have a blast, as will parents with kids or teens. Dress is almost never formal. With a culture so rooted in outdoor activity, athletic or ski wear is the universal norm. Stilettos, polished loafers, or fine jewelry don’t need to make the suitcase. Snow or sunshine, being comfortable and active, hot tubs, toasty fires, good food and drinks, friends and laughter are the staples of the community and culture in Summit County, Colorado.