There are many ski towns in America. Each one has some unique features, but they all share the common fact that people go there to ski. In the last month I visited four ski towns; Mammoth Lakes, Aspen, Park City, and of course Breckenridge. At each stop I recognized some similarities to our beloved Breckenridge, and also noticed what made each of these places unique.
Mammoth Lakes, California is home to Mammoth ski resort. A long drive from both LA and San Francisco, getting to Mammoth Lakes is not nearly as easy as getting to Breck from an urban area. Mammoth Lakes is located a short drive from the actual resort. There is a small village area that you can take a gondola to and from, where there are some attractions you will like such as restaurants, bars, and ski shops. Most of the main attractions however are not as accessible as they are in Breck. Since Mammoth Lakes is near to LA it seems to have a bit more glitz than Breck. There are posh people, and a level of decadence that you don’t tend to feel when you are in Breckenridge.
Park City, Utah is similar to Mammoth Lakes in that the town itself is not right next to the resorts. Unlike Mammoth Lakes and Breck, there is more than one resort you can choose from when you are there, but also it requires a little driving to get to each one. Park City has a more of western feel than Mammoth Lakes; similar to what you feel when you are in Colorado. Like Mammoth Lakes though Park City attracts a more glamorous crowd then Breck. People from New York and LA are flying out frequently to enjoy the legendary Utah champagne powder.
If Mammoth Lakes and Park City attract a more glamorous crowd, Aspen attracts the most glamorous. It is no secret that Aspen is an exclusive community and is out of many people’s price range, even people who can afford to ski. Like Breck, Aspen has one of the four resorts in town that you can get to right from Main Street. It is common to see people walking down the street in ski boots and caring their gear. Since Aspen is in Colorado it has a similar feel to Breck and you may see some of the same skiers in Aspen that frequent Breck as well.
Breck has many of these features that all these ski towns offer. However, Breck is unique in that it has a feeling that you don’t get from these other places. You don’t get the sense that only important people come here. Breck has a great locals scene and a local feel you don’t find at these other places. Breckenridge is also almost completely defined by skiing. There are not fancy national festivals there to distract you from what you really came for: skiing. This more than anything makes Breck stand out from some of the other ski towns out there.
These three ski towns all have great things to offer and visiting each one should be part of every skier’s life. The one common thread is that each place offers a chance for great skiing and a chance to get away into the beauty of nature. Although each place offered something new and different, each visit made me realize and appreciate how special Breckenridge is. There is no other place where you can get everything from laid back locals, to pretentious out-of-towners, to idealistic young ski bums just living the dream. Sure all these places might have that too, but only one place where you can get this all in the great enjoyable package that is the one and only Breckenridge.