On a recent trip to Colorado, we wanted to find some places to go sledding in Breckenridge. Or really, anywhere near it — so that could mean Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne … anywhere that had a hill and someplace to park.
While I was outdoors getting pelted by snowballs, my wife hunted around for viable options. Over the course of two days in the area, we sampled three hills. Here’s what we learned.
Where to Get Sleds In Breckenridge
First of all, you need to get sleds. We picked up a saucer for the soon-to-be-7-year-old and a longer sled for the adults at the City Market for about $20. The plan was to use them and then leave them somewhere for others to use.
The nearby REI also had sleds, but they weren’t much better for the extra money. I have to say, I’d appreciate some extra-large, adult-sized saucers. To me, saucers build up speed like nothing else!
Sledding Near Breckenridge: The Runway Sledding Hill
First up for our sledding in Breckridge extravaganza, we have the Runway Sledding Hill. I didn’t remember this one from our previous trip to the area. That’s because it’s new!
It’s also not a natural hill. It has a relatively gentle slope and a designated place to walk up (that gets ignored by more than a few people). It’s all in good shape.
If anything, it might be a bit too smooth. It could use some bumps or whoops for those who wanna go fast(er).
Also nice: There’s free parking, portable toilets and a Sled Shed — two little boxes where you can either borrow a sled or contribute to the pile. We were the first ones on the hill, and there was only one in the sheds. I recommend you bring your own.
Keystone Nordic Center — Pay to Slay
Our next stop was the Keystone Nordic Center. Getting there from Breckenridge involved a drive up and down the rather slippery Swan Mountain Road (and honestly, I can’t help thinking of the movie Hot Fuzz when I see a reference to a swan).
Great views, but take it slow, especially if you’re not used to snow driving.
Unlike the free-flowing, nearly-anything-goes nature of the Runway Sledding Hill, you’ll need to make reservations well in advance for the Keystone Nordic Center. We got transferred three times while calling to make reservations, which didn’t make them seem all that organized.
The center sells one-hour blocks of time that include a snow tube. Deciding how many tubes to get was a major challenge while booking — they had a lot of difficulty telling us whether our 7-year-old would be OK in a tube on her own (she was).
The lack of organization continued once we arrived at the center, with one guy telling us we were good to go hit the hill. His colleague, who possibly once worked for the TSA, was having none of that.
“The hill is reg-u-late-ed,” she overannunciated in a needlessly officious fashion before giving us the OK.
Whatever. We finally got to the hill, which isn’t one of those fancy places with a tow rope or anything. You just walk your tubes up.
The hill itself was actually on the slow and short side. It didn’t have any bumps or features to liven things up. The snow tubes are a huge plus, offering a smooth, nearly friction-free ride.
We went to the Keystone Nordic Center because the Frisco Adventure Park was fully booked. It’s easy to see why people seem to prefer it. The hills there look stupidly fun. Just book well in advance — like when you make your plane reservations.
Sledding at Rainbow Park, Silverthorne
Our last stop was another free-for-all hill. Snow was coming down hard, and we were initially discouraged by a huge line of cars along the street. Turns out, those were for a COVID-19 testing site. We grabbed a free parking space in the park’s parking lot. From there we trudged a bit to the biggest hills on the 7-acre site.
Snow was coming down pretty hard. From the the top of the hills — which were fairly steep but not huge — we sometimes couldn’t see the bottom because of the whiteout conditions. We had absolutely no depth perception. But damn, those hills were fast and fun!
There are also some nice bathrooms at the park. Which is good since you should be staying hydrated even in cold weather, and especially at high altitude.
BONUS AREA: Carter Park Sledding in Breckenridge
It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been to this sledding hill in Breckenridge. We checked it out before the little person was born after frying our legs on downhill and Nordic skiing.
It’s also fun and fast. I actually made a sled disintegrate right under me from the pummeling I gave it.
Parking might be more difficult here. And it’s in Breckenridge proper, which can mean a bit more hassle. This option might be best, though, if you’re staying in the neighborhood rather than coming in from Frisco or Dillon.
PRO TIP: Caffeinate and Get Warmed Up
Need something warm to drink before or after hitting the hills? The best coffee I found in the area was House of Vibes Coffee and Curio in Silverthorne.
As I’ve mentioned more than once on this site while reviewing coffee shops, I’m a cappuccino drinker. It’s a great benchmark drink to see if baristas know what’s up. House of Vibes only offers one size, which is always a good sign. The drink itself was solid — not quite up to the standards of Little Owl Coffee in Denver, but that’s a high bar for anyone to match.
They also sell all sorts of weird, cool stuff made by locals, for example, animal skulls and earrings made from the inside of a pinecone (they looked amazing). They also have some fun books.
The staff is also friendly and full of personality. I loved how they greeted locals who came in by name and often knew what they wanted to drink.
I hate to say this, but my favorite winter destination is still Park City, Utah. It’s super-easy to get to from Salt Lake City. The snow, the skiing and the sledding are all impossible not to love.
But there’s a problem. I didn’t trust a red state to be even remotely responsible and forward-thinking during the COVID era.
Colorado might not be in the best shape, either, from a COVID standpoint. I don’t know what the future holds for our future out-of-state snow trips.
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