Breckenridge in March - snow, and what to see in town

Discussion in 'Travel' started by amanda_b., Nov 19, 2003.

  1. Going to Breckenridge, CO in March for a skiing trip with my family.
    I'm from Florida. Never even been on a ski before. Never been to
    Colorado before. Been in snow, but not this much for this long (a

    I have a Canon rebel. While everyone is going to go ski, my main goal
    (shhh) is to take pictures...the PROBLEM is that I will be with 11
    other people. We will be flying into Denver and taking a rental van
    to Breck. So I won't have any transportation once there.

    I have looked online, I am interested in anything cool there - but
    everything I find is ski-related. I would like to know if there is
    anything there I should know about, photography-wise. Historical,
    scenic, etc. I guess I am too limited though since I won't have any
    of my own transport. Maybe there is a park or something nearby, that
    I could take a bus to? I have no idea. Scenic "overlooks?" Old
    buildings/graveyards nearby? anything historical (other than the
    downtown itself)?

    Wanted to go to Estes Park and see The Stanley, but already been told
    that's too far.

    Also, will my camera and gear be OK in like a leather backpack/purse
    for the trip? It will be cold there but I think my gear should be ok.

    Any general tips for snow photography? I have a polarizer.

    OH - and I KNOW that March is not the best time for color and scenics
    and whatnot, but that's when I'll be there.

  2. Breck is a pretty cool little town in it's own right and you should have plenty of photo ops downtown (especially at night), and even though you're not skiing, hit the resorts for photos as well.
    I'm not too sure what you'll be able to get to outside of town without a car (watch the weather, avg. high temp. there in March is 39 F, you may want to consider renting a bike depending on the weather), but if you haven't already check out regional info at this website and try to find a copy of this book. They should give you some ideas of what there is to do other than skiing. DS
  3. Thanks Darren!

    Don't get me wrong - I WILL be skiing (or at least trying to), but I have other interests thatn just that...tkaing pictures is ALWAYS my goal, no matter where I am going!

    We are staying at Pine Ridge condos. You mentioned checking out the resorts. Any ones in particular?
  4. Darren - one more thing.

    Any tips for night photography WITHOUT a tripod? I am packing very light and even my small tripod will be extraneous, I think.
  5. Lake Dillon is very close and a nice place to shoot pictures. As far as your tripod situation, there is a Wal-Mart there. If i am going to be somewhere for a week and cannot take a tripod i go but a cheepy (20 bucks) and just leave it in the hotel when I am done. You shoudl love Brek, my wife and I go there all the time to take pictures or even just for dinner some nights. It is only about an hour from Denver.
  6. Breckenridge is a VERY busy little town in March. I lived there for a winter back in the 94-95 ski season.

    First off, transportation. There are several in-town shuttles which should get you round and about between the ski area bases and the main part of town. There is also the Summit Stage bus line which gives transport between Breck, Frisco, Keystone, and Copper mountain. All of them run more frequently near the beginning and end of the ski day then they do at off times. They're all free, or at least they were the winter before last when I was last there.

    There will be plenty to photograph right around town! Just walk around down main street and the couple streets to the west. It's a pretty small town, you can walk end to end on main street in 20 minutes if you're in a hurry. Tourists, buildings, beautiful mountains all around. The ski area. Dogs…lots of dogs. Snow. The ice sculptures on Main Street might still be there.

    Are you planning to take your camera up on the mountain? Since you're a new skier it could be risky. I suggest doing it at Keystone ski area if you're planning to ski there. (Multi-day passes for Breckenridge usually include Keystone) since they have a gondola. You can take some pictures from the top and then lock up your camera while you ski. Copper mountain has some really fabulous views from the top…and very easy ways back down too if you're going to ski there some of the time.

    In Breckenridge you're facing the 10 mile range to your west, and Bald mountain is directly behind you, to the east. This combo will mean that the sun enters late and leaves early unless you happen to be way up on the mountain. You can have interesting light situations though, so always be on the lookout. You may have blue skies and sun the whole time, or it could be a complete whiteout or any combination…

    If you can, try to get up to Arapahoe Basin too. It's the ski area just up the road from Keystone. It's in a high-steep valley mostly above the treeline. The road (highway 6 if I recall…) continues over the continental divide. Really a beautiful place if you can get there on a clear day! When the conditions are right lots of advanced skiers ski the backcountry down both sides from this high perch in the mountains. (I definitely DO NOT recommend it for a first timer though!)

    And as for the skiing itself, make sure to take at least one lesson. It will really make the whole process a LOT more fun!

    Have a great trip!
  7. Greg -

    GREAT suggestions!!

    I will certainly look up those bus routes.

    We are staying at Pine Ridge Condos, I am told they are right there off main street and that you can ski to/from the ski lift (just not sure what ski lift it is).

    I would *like* to take my camera with me while skiing, at least a few times, to catch "the action" and to give a family member it so they can get my picture as I gracefully (yeah right) ski past...can I go to the Keystone ski area and NOT ski? Meaning, could I go to where you suggested I take pictures and do just that? Or, is the only way down to ski?

    Is it "ok" to take a backpack skiing? I think it would be ebst for me to get my ski legs and have a few runs without the camera, but maybe the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. day into skiing I could take it.

    I am going with a group that has been going for 12 years so I really don't know what kind of "ski packages" we are doing, if any, yet. Maybe we will only be skiing at one place, one location I mean. I really don't know. To go to other ski lifts/lodges, do you have to pay? Meaning, again, coudl I "look around" for free?

    Thanks so much!

  8. Let's see...I take a backpack sometimes. A backpack can be difficult on lifts and sometimes skiing (if it's too heavy) especially since you're new to it, but see how stable you feel after a couple days. I took some hard falls on my old Canon FD gear in the old days but it managed to survive OK...Don't know that newer plastic stuff would fare so well, I don't fall much (ever?) anymore when I have a camera :)

    Yes, you can go to Keystone and not ski, but it's more fun to ski too. You can ride Keystone's gondola up AND down the mountain, but there are easy ways all the way down too.

    You can go to the other ski areas that I mentioned for free...but you'd have to buy a lift ticket to go up on the mountains. Depending on your situation, these areas may all be included in your lift pass though.

    And, hey, even if you stay in Breckenridge the whole time, there is lots to do/see/ski/photograph.

    Be sure to take it easy the first day you're up there. Avoid coffee and alcohol too for the first 24 hours. The town is at 9600 feet...the altitude can really take it out of you! Drink about twice as much water as you think you need and you'll be fine.

  9. Greg-

    I'm pretty worried about altitude sickness....espcially since I live AT sea level. I will be with a bunch of people that have done this before and I already know to drink lots of water and eat well and no alcohol/coffee at first.

    I didn't think of the backpack issue on the ski lifts - that is why I ask these questions - what a good point. I guess I could maybe swing it around to the front when sitting down? We will see.

    And we ARE only staying in Breckenridge. Anyone know anything about Valley Brook Cemetary, the Summit Co. Historical Society says: The Valley View Cemetary is located near the intersection of Airport Road and Valley Brook Road on the northern side of Breckenridge.
    Is it pretty? Accessible during March?
  10. Amanda,

    I shoot in Crested Butte all winter, and you'll have a great time in Breckenridge. Good idea to bring the polarizer - it can create some dramatic blue skies (much more than at lower altitudes). I ski with a backpack all the time, and yes just flip it to the front when loading the lifts.

    Be sure to bring some shooting gloves (thin, windproof) and get comfortable changing film in/with them.

    When shooting people, be aware of the tendency of your auto meter to underexpose when they're backlit. I always manually expose on snow.

    Bring extra batteries for the camera, too, since they won't last as long at lower temperatures.

    Don't pack film in your checked luggage... and since it's such a pain to travel with film these days you might be better off buying film in CO and getting it developed before you fly back. You can UPS film to Denver, or get it done locally.

    I don't think you'll have any trouble finding interesting subjects for your photos. Have fun.
  11. Chris -

    Thanks. Good idea about thinner camera-accessible gloves. I was thinking about that...

    And extra batteries, I try to always have one pair extra but will bring more for the lower temps.

    So no problems skiing with a backpack? The gear won't get too cold? (assuming the backpack is OUTSIDE your jacket).
  12. Better than extra batteries - Lithium batteries. They don't suffer nearly as much from the cold. Alkaline batteries will be gone before you know it if it gets really cold.

    The valley around Breckenridge (including Dillon and Frisco) has some reasonably good mountain views. The Dillon Resevoir is pretty (prettier in summer, and when full...); it provides a nice foreground to some of the mountain scenery (be sure to get up to the scenic pulloff on I-70 right before town).

    In conjunction with the Shuttle, if you're dressed for the cold you can hike (or maybe bike) to numerous destinations. A paved trail runs pretty much from Vail to Keystone; Vail is too far, but you can just start out of Frisco towards Copper Mountain - the town ends abruptly and you'll find yourself along a creek, paralleling I-70. Starting from Copper Mountain in either direction provides similar views. Either of these will probably get you some nice ice-on-river shots.

    I agree also with the above poster on the side trip on US-6 over Loveland Pass - *if* it's been clear. Convince your driver to "detour". Much more scenic than the Eisenhower Tunnel :)

    In town - many of the ski towns have mining roots. Breckenridge is one of them. Go to the local book shop once you get there - there's sure to be some booklets detailing old buildings and mining history. Historic sites in town range from log structures through Victorian and industrial.

    Lastly, don't overdo the polarizer - use it at less than its maximum enhancement or your skies will be VERY dark - being at somewhere around 2 miles above sea level does that :)
  13. Les -

    Thanks. GREAT advice.

    What speed film do you recommend? I want to to stick with print film, not slide.

    Also, I've read that all that bright white snow can really mess up exposure, should I bracket? If so, for what? Half stop up or down? Or would it matter with print film?

    I normally use 200 speed, would you recommend another speed?

    And I emailed, about 2 or 3 weeks ago, the people that do the historic walking tour of Breck, to see if they do a winter tour, but have nto heard back yet...
  14. As you note, Winter is a more difficult photography season. Film speed is your choice - I almost always shoot ISO-100 slide film, you are doing 200 print...

    More important is the exposure. Snow can really throw off the meter. I think someone else said it best - spot meter if you can (or center meter a wide expanse of snow otherwise) for best exposure. Snow is variable on the adjustments - in bright direct light, it's 1-1/2 to 2 stops; in bright overcast, possibly even all the way to 2-1/2; and under trees perhaps just 1. Matrix meters have variable responses to snow depending on the meter programming - only trial and error will tell.

    Luckily, you're using print - one-hour photo shops are your friend, and you do get a bit of room to err with print films. Take an initial roll and have them developed at the one-hour shop, then see what comes back (try to add in whatever compensation they applied at the shop - it's often printed on the back of the print if you know how to read it...).

    Have fun!

    PS - many of the walking tour companies don't operate in Winter (though you'd think a ski resort would be different...) There's a small publisher in Colorado which makes many booklets on local history; one is called "Breckenridge!", and it covers some of the important stuff. Mining towns tend to be laid out in a compact linear fashion, so finding most of the buildings should be easy with a guidebook.
  15. Les-

    Any idea how I could obtain this book? I did an Internet search for Breckinridge! and couldn't seem to find it.
  16. I did a Google search for: Breckenridge history

    It was in the first few answers.
  17. Les, thank you. I noticed I misspelled it. I am usually pretty good at finding things on the web - thanks for the help!

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