Breckenridge, Colorado

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Breckenridge, Colorado
Town of Breckenridge [1]
Breckenridge Main Street.jpg
Main Street in Breckenridge.
Summit County Colorado Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Breckenridge Highlighted 0808400.svg
Location of the Town of Breckenridge in Summit County, Colorado.
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of the Town of Breckenridge in the United States.
Coordinates: 39°29′59″N106°02′36″W / 39.499619°N 106.043292°W / 39.499619; -106.043292 Coordinates: 39°29′59″N106°02′36″W / 39.499619°N 106.043292°W / 39.499619; -106.043292 [2]
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Colorado.svg  Colorado
County Summit County [3]
Town Breckenridge [1]
EstablishedNovember 1859 as Breckinridge
Incorporated March 3, 1880 [4]
  Type Home Rule Municipality [1]
   Mayor Eric Mamula
  Total6.04 sq mi (15.65 km2)
  Land6.04 sq mi (15.65 km2)
  Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
9,600 ft (2,926 m)
 (2010) [6]
(2019) [7]
  Density818.44/sq mi (316.01/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (MST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code
80424 [8]
Area code(s) 970
FIPS code 08-08400
GNIS feature ID0204681

The Town of Breckenridge is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Summit County, Colorado, United States. [9] Breckenridge is the principal town of the Breckenridge, CO Micropolitan Statistical Area. The town population was 4,540 at the 2010 United States Census. The town also has many part-time residents, as many people have vacation homes in the area. The town is located at the base of the Tenmile Range.


Since ski trails were first cut in 1961, Breckenridge Ski Resort has made the town a popular destination for skiers. Summer in Breckenridge attracts outdoor enthusiasts with hiking trails, wildflowers, fly-fishing in the Blue River, mountain biking, nearby Lake Dillon for boating, white water rafting, three alpine slides, a roller coaster, and many shops and restaurants up and down Main Street. The historic buildings along Main Street with their clapboard and log exteriors add to the charm of the town. Since 1981, Breckenridge hosts the Breckenridge Festival of Film in September. [10] [11] In January each year since the 21st century there is a Backcountry Film Festival. [12] That is held at about the same time as the Ullr Fest, a week of celebrating snow and honoring the Norse god Ullr. [13] There are many summer activities, including an annual Fourth of July parade.


The first prospectors in the area built a stockade known as Fort Mary B named after Mary Bigelow who was the only white woman in the party. The town of Breckenridge was founded in November 1859 and named for prospector Thomas Breckenridge. In 1860, General George E. Spencer persuaded the citizens to change the spelling the town's name to Breckinridge in honor of U.S. Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge in the hopes of gaining a post office. Spencer succeeded in his plan and the Breckinridge Post Office became the first post office between the Continental Divide and Salt Lake City. [14] When Breckinridge accepted a commission as a Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army in 1861, the town promptly changed its name back to the original Breckenridge. [15]


An aerial view of the town of Breckenridge from the top of the Kensho SuperChair on Peak 6 View of town from the top of Peak 6.JPG
An aerial view of the town of Breckenridge from the top of the Kensho SuperChair on Peak 6

Prospectors entered what is now Summit County (then part of Utah Territory) during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of 1859, soon after the placer gold discoveries east of Breckenridge near Idaho Springs. Breckenridge was founded to serve the miners working rich placer gold deposits discovered along the Blue River. Placer gold mining was soon joined by hard rock mining, as prospectors followed the gold to its source veins in the hills. Gold in some upper gravel benches east of the Blue River was recovered by hydraulic mining. Gold production decreased in the late 1800s, but revived in 1908 by gold dredging operations along the Blue River and Swan River. The Breckenridge mining district is credited with production of about one million troy ounces (about 31,000 kilograms) of gold. [16] The gold mines around Breckenridge are all shut down, although some are open to tourist visits. The characteristic gravel ridges left by the gold dredges can still be seen along the Blue River and Snake River, and the remains of a dredge are still afloat in a pond off the Swan River.

Gold specimen from Farncomb Hill, Breckenridge Gold-263851.jpg
Gold specimen from Farncomb Hill, Breckenridge

Notable among the early prospectors was Edwin Carter, a log cabin naturalist who decided to switch from mining to collecting wildlife specimens. His log cabin, built in 1875, still stands today and has been recently renovated by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance with interactive exhibits and a small viewing room with a short creative film on his life and the early days around Breckenridge.

Harry Farncomb found the source of the French Gulch placer gold on Farncomb Hill in 1878. His strike, Wire Patch, consisted of alluvial gold in wire, leaf and crystalline forms. By 1880, he owned the hill. Farncomb later discovered a gold vein, which became the Wire Patch Mine. Other vein discoveries included Ontario, Key West, Boss, Fountain, and Gold Flake. [17] :57

The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance reports that in the 1930s, a women's group in Breckenridge stumbled upon an 1880s map that failed to include Breckenridge. They speculated that Breckenridge had never been officially annexed into the United States, and was thus still considered "No Man's Land". This was completely false—official US maps did include Breckenridge—but these women created an incredibly clever marketing campaign out of this one map. In 1936 they invited the Governor of Colorado to Breckenridge to raise a flag at the Courthouse officially welcoming Breckenridge into the union—and he came. There was a big party, and the entire event/idea of Breckenridge being left off the map made national news. The "No Man's Land" idea later morphed into a new theme of Breckenridge being referred to as "Colorado's Kingdom", and the theme of the town's independent spirit is still celebrated to today during the annual "Kingdom Days" celebrations every June.

In December 1961, skiing was introduced to Breckenridge when several trails were cut on the lower part of Peak 8, connected to town by Ski Hill Road. In the 50-plus years since, the ski area was gradually expanded onto adjacent peaks, with trails opening on Peak 9 in the early 1970s, Peak 10 in 1985, Peak 7 in 2002, and Peak 6 in 2013.

On November 3, 2009, voters passed ballot measure 2F by a nearly 3 to 1 margin (73%), which legalized marijuana possession for adults. The measure allows possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and also decriminalizes the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia. Possession became legal January 1, 2010. Possession was still illegal by state law, however, until the passage of Colorado Amendment 64 in 2012. [18]


Breckenridge is located at 39°29′11″N106°02′37″W / 39.486445°N 106.043516°W / 39.486445; -106.043516 . [19] According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.9 square miles (13 km2), all of it land. The ski area has a total area of 4.5 square miles (12 km2) of land. The elevation of Breckenridge is 9600 feet (2926 m) above sea level.

A spring panorama of Breckenridge


Breckenridge's climate is considered to be high-alpine with the tree line ending at 11,500 feet (3,500 m). The average humidity remains around 30% throughout the year. [20] At the elevation of the weather station, the climate could be described as a variety of a subarctic climate (Dfc) since summer means are above 50 °F (10 °C) in spite of the very cool nights. Winter lows are quite severe, but the days averaging around the freezing mark somewhat moderate mean temperatures.

A weather station was run in the town from 1893 to 1913, and from 1948 to the current day. However, temperature measurements are mostly confined to the first period, and the temperature record is thus very sparse. Even so, a temperature of freezing or below was recorded for every single date of the year except July 26. [21]

Climate data for Breckenridge, Colorado (1893–1978)
Record high °F (°C)72
Average high °F (°C)29.6
Average low °F (°C)0.4
Record low °F (°C)−40
Average precipitation inches (mm)1.49
Average snowfall inches (cm)21.7
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center [22]



Historical population
1870 51
1880 1,6573,149.0%
1900 976
1910 834−14.5%
1920 796−4.6%
1930 436−45.2%
1940 381−12.6%
1950 296−22.3%
1960 39332.8%
1970 54839.4%
1980 81849.3%
1990 1,28557.1%
2000 2,40887.4%
2010 4,54088.5%
2019 (est.)4,945 [7] 8.9%
U.S. Decennial Census [24]

As of the census of 2000, there were 2,408 people, 1,081 households, and 380 families residing in the town. The population density was 486.4 people per square mile (187.8/km2). There were 4,270 housing units at an average density of 862.6 per square mile (333.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.56% White, 0.37% African American, 0.33% Native American, 1.04% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.12% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.44% of the population.

There were 1,081 households, out of which 13.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.9% were married couples living together, 4.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 64.8% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 0.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.61.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 11.1% under the age of 18, 22.8% from 18 to 24, 45.3% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 2.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 160.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 164.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $43,938, and the median income for a family was $52,212. Males had a median income of $29,571 versus $27,917 for females. The per capita income for the town was $29,675. About 5.2% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.

For 2009 the average price for a single family home in the Breckenridge area is $1,035,806 with a sold price per square foot of $314.00. For multifamily properties the average price is $560,689 with a sales price per square foot of $440. Land sales prices averaged $373,067. [25]


Mexican sculptor Abel Ramirez Aguilar posing with other members of team Graciela Ferreiro, Gabriel Rayar and Robert Hancock in front of their snow sculpture "Little Village" at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in 1999 Litle V. USA. 99.jpg
Mexican sculptor Abel Ramírez Águilar posing with other members of team Graciela Ferreiro, Gabriel Rayar and Robert Hancock in front of their snow sculpture "Little Village" at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in 1999

Breckenridge holds public events throughout the year.


Every January, the International Snow Sculpture Championships are held in Breckenridge, where sculptors from around the world compete to create works of art from twenty ton blocks of snow. The annual winter Ullr Fest parade pays homage to the Norse god of snow Ullr. The Backcountry Film Fest began in the 21st century, which happens in January. [12] That is held about the same time as the Ullr Fest. [13]

Since winter of 2008-2009, the Freeway Terrain Park on Peak 8 hosts the Winter Dew Tour in December, featuring the biggest names in extreme snowboarding and skiing. Other events held on the mountain include the annual Imperial Challenge, Breck's version of a triathlon, The 5 Peaks, North America's longest ski mountaineering race, the Breck Ascent Series, with races up the mountain, as well as other competitions, festivals, and the annual Spring Fever month-long celebration at the end of the ski season with festivities and other celebrations around spring skiing. [26]

Summer and fall

During the summer, Breckenridge is host to the National Repertory Orchestra and the Breckenridge Music Institute. Concerts are scheduled three to four nights a week. Full orchestra, ensembles, and contemporary artists perform at the Riverwalk Center, downtown near the Blue River. Several art fairs come to Breckenridge every summer, attracting many local artists and buyers. The town also puts on an annual Fourth of July celebration, featuring a parade in the morning and fireworks at night. In September each year since 1981, the Breckenridge Festival of film is held. [10] [11]

Outdoor summer activities

Common activities include mountain biking and road biking, hiking, and fly fishing. For mountain biking, Breckenridge hosts innumerable trails such as the Peaks trail which connects Breckenridge and Frisco and the Flume Loops which explore the Highlands Area. The 9-mile (14 km) tarmaced Breckenridge to Frisco bike track parallels Highway 9 and is a popular ride. The large number of passes in Summit County also attract road bikers. Many biking and running races are held in the area during the summer months. The nearby fourteener Quandary Peak gains the most attention for hikers. Fly fishing is also popular. During the summer, a fun park is operated at Peak 8 base, connected to town by the BreckConnect Gondola. It includes activities such as zipline rides, the GoldRunner coaster, three alpine slides, mini golf, access to mountain biking, Jeep tours, and scenic rides on the Colorado SuperChair. [27]

Notable people

Notable individuals who were born in or have lived in Breckenridge include:

See also

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