There are many ways to spend a sunny summer day with your family in the Colorado Rockies.
You can go biking. You can go hiking. Or if you’re in Breckenridge, you can go Epic.
Epic Discovery Alpine Camp
The Epic Discovery Alpine Camp opened on Peak 8 in July. Developed in partnership with the United States Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy, Epic Discovery at Breckenridge is the newest of three summer adventure experiences available at Breckenridge, Vail and Heavenly.
While many ski resorts offer on-mountain activities during summer, only Vail Resorts has gone the extra mile to incorporate “learn through play” activities appropriate for a wide range of ages.
Want to know the relative strength of beaver and human jaws? Compare for yourself at Breck’s Alpine Camp. Interested in seeing if you are as agile as a fox? Weave among the poles while a family member times you.
These active exhibits, plus information about snow, pine beetles, wetlands, the area’s mining history, the animals you may meet in this environment punctuate the .75 mile Alpine Camp Loop Trail.
Here, you’ll also find the Vista Point Overlook observation tower. While the view from 11,000-plus feet is always spectacular, the tower gives guests another boost, for 360° unobstructed views.
Alpine Camp is at the top of the Colorado Super Chair, a high-speed quad that carries people and bikes during summer.
In addition to the Alpine Camp Loop Trail and the Vista Point Overlook, Alpine Camp is where you’ll find the 35’ Gold Summit Climbing Wall, the Alpineer Challenge Course and the Expedition Zip Line Tour.
The Expedition Zip Line Tour
There are zip lines and then there are zip line tours.
While Breckenridge has two individual zip lines (the Breck Flyer and the L’il Flyer — both found at the bottom of the Colorado Super Chair), the Expedition Zip Line Tour is in a class by itself.
The Expedition tour includes eight zip lines and a 200’ aerial bridge, suspended between ten towers. Tours take up to 8 guests and always include two professional Epic Discovery guides.
Guests travel from Alpine Camp to the start of the tour at Independence Outpost in vans. Here, they meet their guides, learn about safety and gear up, donning harnesses, helmets and gloves.
Then it’s off to “ground school,” a short zip line where everyone practices braking and other simple skills.
After ground school, it’s time to fly.
The Expedition zip lines increase in length as you move from tower to tower, culminating in line 8 at nearly 2000’. All together, the lines zip you through, and above, the forest for over one mile. At the end of the tour, guests belay down to the ground, again with the help of guides.
The tour requires no special skills or experience. It’s a safe, unique, totally worth it, family adventure.
Expedition Zip Line Tour Pro Tips
*Summer in Colorado can mean afternoon rain and thunderstorms. Tours can take between 3-3.5 hours depending upon the number of guests. For the best weather and the least chance of storms, book as early in the day as you can. Tours leave every 30 minutes from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.
*Wear long pants and bring a jacket. Temperatures are noticeably cooler at 11,000 feet. Plus, you’ll be flying through the air! Also wear sunscreen and closed toe shoes (required).
*Braking on the actual long lines is much easier than braking on the short ground school line. Don’t push down hard with your hand. Instead, apply the lightest touch and then increase the pressure slowly as you slow. Think gradual, not sudden.
Horseshoe Trail, Gold Summit Climbing Wall and the Alpineer Challenge Course
After the zip line tour, guests return via van to Alpine Camp. In addition to the interpretive displays, here are some “don’t miss” suggestions.
*The climbing wall is not just for kids. While you’ll see lots of kids climbing it and lots of parents taking photos, do not give it a miss! It’s really fun with fairly easy routes that progress to fairly difficult. None of the climbs are long, but they are surprisingly exhilarating (from the adrenaline and the exertion). It’s a good time.
*Take a free guided hike on the 1.5 mile Horseshoe Trail that loops through Horseshoe Bowl. Guided hikes leave from the top of the chairlift each day at 11:00 a.m. If you hike on your own, bring lunch or a snack and take a break at a strategically placed picnic table near the trail high point.
*The Alpineer Challenge Course wasn’t open when we visited, but it looks fantastic. If you’ve done it, please share!
Other Fun, Fast Ways to Experience Peak 8 in Summer
If you’re a family of mountain bikers, bringing your gear to Breckenridge (or renting it), is a must.
The on-mountain bike trail system is extensive, with mostly intermediate and advanced trails. Long trails wind across the mountain, some at reasonably gentle grades, meandering in and out of the forest.
Unlike downhill specific bike parks (for example the nearby Keystone Bike Park), the trails at Breck are built for cross-country mountain bikes and while you will find some banked turns and berms, there is nothing on these routes requiring special gear or special skills.
Also on our “don’t miss” list? The Alpine Slide and GoldRunner coaster at the Peak 8 Base Camp.
When You Go…
One Percent for the Forest
Vail Resort’s recently announced Epic Promise, a multi-part environmental and community initiative to reduce net emissions and waste to landfill to zero by 2030. Additionally, Vail Resorts has committed to having zero net operating impact on forests and habitat.
In keeping with this promise, one percent of lift ticket and summer activity revenue at Breckenridge is donated to The Nature Conservancy to fund forest restoration on USFS lands.
“We cannot do it alone,” shares The Nature Conservancy Colorado State Director Carlos Fernandez.
“There are 24 million acres of forest in the State of Colorado. Six million of them really need our help and so we cannot do it unless organizations such as Vail Resorts and Breckenridge invite us to work together.”
Expedition Zip Line Tour Requirements and Summer Fun Details
The Expedition Zip Line Tour is for guests 10 and older who weigh at least 70 pounds without equipment and less than 250 pounds with equipment.
The tour includes a full day, complimentary Adventure Pass providing unlimited access to pretty much everything on the mountain, with the exception of the Breck Flyer zip line (an additional $10).
Start early, stay late. The fun runs from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Epic Discovery is open every day through Labor Day and then again the weekend of September 8-10, which is also Oktoberfest at Breckenridge.
Summer in Breckenridge
In addition to everything on the mountain, summer in Breckenridge is a busy and exciting time.
Here’s the view from an expert: Holly Resignolo, long-time local and publisher of MTN Town Magazine.
“There is nothing better than waking up to the cool crisp summer air, grabbing a cup of coffee at a local café and gearing up for one of the many adventures Breckenridge has to offer. The trail system is phenomenal and the restaurant scene is top-notch. I am incredibly fortunate to call this town my home.”
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