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Breckenridge Whitewater Adventures

When most people think of Breckenridge, they think of snowy mountain peaks and skiing or snowboarding during the winter months. As winter slips away and the sun shines brighter and warmer at 9600 feet above sea level all that snow begins to melt and flow into creeks, ponds, lakes, waterfalls, and babbling brooks which eventually converge into the mighty Colorado River. And all that running water presents a great opportunity for summer fun and adventure: Whitewater rafting!

Breckenridge is nestled at the bottom of the Tenmile mountain range, and conveniently close to rivers that are ideal for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. These on-water adventures are perfect for thrills, taking in the scenery of beautiful canyons, fishing, and feeling that Colorado sunshine.

While running the river is a great summer activity, it does come with a level of risk and we recommend if you are planning on a white-water adventure do so with a guide service, like our in town favorite Performance Rafting Tours, but more on them later. Let’s take a look at some of the rivers that flow in or around Breck:
Rafting down the Blue River with Performance Rafting Tours

The Blue River:

Flowing through the heart of Breckenridge, the Blue River offers a range of sections suitable for all skill levels. As you navigate this stunning waterway, you’ll be enchanted by the alpine scenery that surrounds you. The Upper Blue River is a great stretch for whitewater rafting offering Class I to Class III rapids, while the stretch below Green Mountain Reservoir is more suited to kayakers, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), and rafts, with rapids ranging from Class I to Class II.

Rafting the Blue River near Breckenridge Colorado

The Arkansas River AKA “The Ark”:

A short drive from Breckenridge, the mighty Arkansas River awaits, offering an unforgettable whitewater experience. Renowned for its thrilling rapids and dramatic canyons, the Arkansas River attracts adventurers from around the world. With sections ranging from peaceful floats to challenging Class V rapids, this river caters to all levels of experience. Performance Rafting Tours is your go-to guiding service for exploring the Arkansas River, whether you choose whitewater rafting, kayaking, or SUP. Their experienced guides will lead you through the exhilarating drops, epic waves, and breathtaking gorges. What is our pick for a stretch of river to explore on this section? Brown’s Canyon! A great mix of scenery and waves await as you float through the rock-flanked surrounding. This float is excellent and only takes about 2.5 hours.

Whitewater Rafting adventures in Colorado

The Colorado River:

About an hour and a half drive away from Breckenridge, you will find the state’s namesake river. You can float for miles on this river with stretches ranging from calm family fun with a few splashes all the way up to raging Class V rapids. Eagles, river otters, foxes, bears, big horn sheep, and other Colorado wildlife can be observed on this river as it passes through mountains,  canyons, deserts, and everything in between. Each section of the Colorado offers different views and challenges, so please consult a guide service, research, and be prepared for heading out on an adventure.

Floating the Upper Colorado River near Breckenridge, CO

Other Notable Nearby Rivers:

Breckenridge is close to a number of other rivers that offer equally enticing water adventures. Clear Creek, the Yampa, and the Eagle River are just a few examples of the nearby waterways that promise unforgettable experiences. Each river features a variety of rapids, ranging from gentle to heart-pounding Class V challenges.

So, you want to wade into white water rafting? Let’s talk about the most important aspect: Safety.

White Water Safety Tips:

When venturing out on these rivers, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some tips to adhere to when floating the rivers around Breckenridge:

  1. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket.
  2. Maintain a proper grip on your equipment and be aware of your surroundings.
  3. Stay hydrated and apply sunscreen regularly to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  4. Be cautious of rocks, submerged obstacles, and changing river conditions.
  5. Be prepared! Do plenty of research on the stretch of water you are interested in floating. Know the CFS, water temperature, and prominent rapids on your stretch. Great resources are the USGS and Bureau of land management websites.
  6. Feet up! If you fall off your craft make sure to keep your feet up to avoid foot entrapment, a common hazard with Colorado’s rock-lined rivers.
  7. Scout your rapid or portage. If you are unsure of how a rapid or wave is flowing, don’t be afraid to pull over and hike to get eyes on it before just charging in blindly. Don’t see a line you want to take? Don’t be afraid to portage around – take your craft out of the water and hike around past the water feature. If you are scouting or portaging be aware of where you plan to stop as there are sections of riverbank that are private property and pulling up to the shore can be considered trespassing.

8. If you’re not an experienced paddler, consider guided tours or lessons to enhance your skills and knowledge. We can’t stress this point enough, white water adventures are seriously fun, but can also be seriously dangerous without the proper knowledge. We encourage even seasoned oarsmen, kayakers, and Sup’ers to consult or get a guide when the waters are flowing high or exploring a new section of water.

This brings us to our preferred guide choice….

Performance Rafting Tours

Founded in Breckenridge in 1986, Performance Rafting Tours number one priority is safety. They go above and beyond in training their rafting guides and set a standard to exceed the minimum number of hours required by the state of Colorado to become a certified rafting guide. Performance Rafting Tours has 5 different locations in Breckenridge, Buena Vista, Idaho Springs, Colorado Springs, and the Royal Gorge. Performance Rafting Tours has been owned and operated by Breckenridge locals since its beginning and has tons of accolades and 5-star reviews to back up the commitment they have to safety and offer an excellent rafting experience. Even if you just have questions about the river or rafting don’t be afraid to pop into their Breckenridge location for a quick chat. The Best of Breck team recently had the opportunity to go on a tour down Brown’s Canyon with Performance Rafting Tours and were smiling ear to ear through the Pinball, Zoom Flume, and Windowmaker rapids.
Rafting the Arkansas River with Performance Rafting Tours

Breckenridge is a great outpost for anyone seeking some summer fun on the water. If you are looking for a way to wind down after your rapid induced adrenaline rush check out the Grand Colorado on Peak 8 which offers mountainside hot tubs, a full-service spa, and also an ultra-relaxing private grotto with a steam room & sauna, cold plunge, and hot tubs.

If you are looking for other summer activities around Breckenridge, here are some more of our favorites.


A hiker enjoying Black Powder Pass near Breckenridge, Colorado.

The Ultimate Breckenridge Hiking Guide

These are THE hikes to experience in Breckenridge. From family fun to type 2, you can find amazing hiking trails around our beautiful mountain town.

Summer Music in the Mountains

Updated 4/7/23

The high country will be jamming this summer! In recent years there has been lots of growth and expansion in both the talent performing in the mountains and the venues in and around Breckenridge. Let me take you on a tour of the spaces and places you can catch some tunes this summer and some of the high notes that will be hitting with big performances.


The Breckenridge Music AirStage

The newest addition to the music venues in Breckenridge is a reborn classic. Breck Create has taken a classic Airstream trailer and modified it with a pop-out stage that is perfect for mid summer jam sessions in the Breckenridge Arts District, Carter Park, Blue River Plaza and anywhere it can be parked! You can find a calendar of events, locations and performances here.


Rocky Mountain Underground (RMU for short) is a local favorite ski shop/bar/beer garden/music venue. RMU is located smack in the middle of Main Street and their beer garden offers tons of sunshine and is a great place to kick back while taking in local bands.


Motherloaded Tavern

If the late-night scene is more your style, find yourself at Motherloaded on a Friday or Saturday night. Rocking music rages from the front of the bar for dancing and singing along. Motherloaded has a historic back bar that is situated away from the tunes and offers a dark speak-easy style atmosphere where they serve up their signature mason jar cocktails (try the Grey Earl!). Motherloaded has Happy Hour Music from 5-8 p.m. every Friday through Sunday and you’ll find rotating local talent like Joe Teichman or the amazing 90’s – early 2000’s cover band, El Paso Lasso. Check their website for more information.

The Riverwalk Center

The largest venue in Breck sits along the flow of the Blue River, has large retractable bay doors to let in the cool summer breeze and a huge lawn outdoors where the music travels outside in full view of the mountains. This is a great venue for families visiting town in search of a sonically pleasing activity. Summer home of National Repertory Orchestra, you can find them or other big names here every Saturday night in the Summer. For summer 2023, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Wailers and Graham Nash bring their sounds to the stage! Click here for a full concert lineup.

Other notable Breckenridge music hot spots include:

  • The Gold Pan Saloon – take in some music in one of the oldest and most historic watering holes in west.
  • Whiskey Star Smokehouse – A newer addition to Breckenridge, enjoy BBQ dinner downstairs and a large selection of whiskey and music upstairs.

Planning on taking in a show at any of these high-altitude avenues? Make a trip out of it with this exclusive offer for 25% off our favorite place to stay in Breckenridge:The Grand Colorado on Peak 8!

Amazing venues outside of Breckenridge:

Dillon Amphitheater

After a recent renovation just a few years ago, the Dillon Amphitheater is drawing the biggest names to Summit County. This venue has a dance floor, bowl, and lawn seating and an unbeatable view of both Lake Dillon and the Ten Mile Range. They have music every Friday night and some nights during the week. For summer 2023 they’ve drawn in legendary artists such as Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Trampled By Turtles, Young The Giant, Umphreys McGee, Pretty Lights, and more! Click here for their full calendar.

10 Mile Music Hall

10 Mile Music Hall top floor view

Snapshot shared by friend of Best Of Breck, Hannah Schneider aka “Hschneids”

Frisco’s Main Street music mecca. This updated indoor venue is the perfect place to pop into when you are out of Breck for the night. After a stroll down Frisco’s historic downtown, you can take in a show from this two-story venue with a huge dance floor and large 2nd-floor balcony. For the most up-to-date upcoming shows check out their Facebook Page.

Everything To Know About Ski Conditions in Breckenridge

Lining the mountainscape above the town of Breckenridge is the aptly named Breckenridge Ski Resort. Spanning across 5 peaks of the Ten Mile range, it is nearly impossible to not be in awe when you drive down the highway and see the town, mountains, and resort for the first time. With Breckenridge’s base elevation of 9600 ft above sea level, you can often find amazing snow conditions and lots of sunshine. Although, different times of the year present different terrain, conditions, and things to know about your time on the slopes. Having lived in Summit County for nearly ten years, let me share some helpful knowledge on what to expect when visiting the resort.

Early Season: Mid-November to Mid-December. 

Breckenridge typically opens the second weekend of November. While not the first resort to open in Colorado or even Summit County, they usually have some of the best early-season snow. With recent snowmaking systems upgrades, the “White Ribbon of Death” days are gone. Opening Day is a great time to visit as it is full of energy, and the town is still waking up from the off-season. Early in the season, Breckenridge Ski Resort’s dedicated snowmaking and grooming teams follow a standard pattern of terrain openings: Open the mountain at Peak 8 with the Colorado chair and a few trails underneath it, usually a green and blue level run. After Colorado chair, with natural snowfall and favorable snowmaking conditions, the Rocky Mountain Super Chair will shortly open.

The resort team usually aims to have Peak 9 with its long mellow sloping groomers open by Thanksgiving. For the first big holiday of the season, the Quicksilver, Beaver Run, and Mercury chairlifts are spinning. During this time, more and more terrain will open from natural snowfall, but be cautious on ungroomed runs as natural terrain and “snow snakes” (sticks, rocks, or natural obstacles) that could be hiding under shallow snow. The snow on groomed runs will be good and great, even with a bit of natural snowfall. Temperatures will be milder these months, with November usually having highs in the upper 30s and lows in the mid-20s, while December begins to cool off with highs in the upper 20s and lows in the high teens.

If enough natural snowfall has occurred, Ski Patrol and Resort Ops teams will begin to expand up the mountain and look to open the famed T-bar or 6 Chair on Peak 8. These areas depend heavily on natural snowfall as they are a high alpine environment where snow making equipment is not installed. Getting the first run down Contest bowl or Horseshoe bowl could be an exhilarating experience, but with early season conditions still, caution must be exercised!

The next to open will be Peak 7! This depends a lot on favorable snowmaking temperatures and natural snowfall, so the range of dates for when the Independence and Freedom Super Chairs begin to run is quite large. On average snowfall years, you can expect this peak with its long blue groomed runs to open before Christmas.

The Holidays: Late December – Mid-January

With three peaks open and plenty of visitors wanting to spend their holidays in a winter wonderland, more advanced terrain will begin to open up (once again, natural snowfall and good snowmaking temps dependent). The following terrain openings vary from year to year, but more often than not, once conditions are right, Peak 10 and its steep advanced runs will open up for some leg-burning fun. The average daily temperature this time of year is in the 20s, with lows in the low to mid-teens. During this time, skiing on the weekdays is crucial to get more runs and avoid long lift lines. This peak, which opened in 2013, is the latest addition to Breckenridge’s expansive terrain. Peak 6 has a little bit of everything: Groomed runs, trees, open bowls, and a hike to high alpine chutes, all accessed by the high-speed Kensho 6-pack chair. Peak 6 has several blue runs, which are great for the intermediate skier or snowboarder.

Mid Season: Mid January – March

The heart of the season. Hopefully, your ski legs will warm up as the final pieces of the mountain to open will be accessed by the highest chair lift in North America. Unloading at 12,840ft above sea level, the Imperial Chair stands above them all. From here, you can access black diamond and double black expert terrain in the Imperial Bowl and Whale’s Tail – or take a groomed single black-rated run, Imperial Ridge, back down to lower elevation. The views from the top of this chair and the mountain are stunning, and you can see mountain tops to Pike’s Peak!

This is the time of the season when Breckenridge is most likely to have a good base of snow and your best chance to catch a powder day! March is typically Colorado’s snowiest month, and when the snow starts dropping & the whole resort is open, it is game on! Colorado enjoys over 300 days of sunshine annually so that you can soak up some rays on a bluebird day in the Mid Season. January and February typically have a high temperature of around 30 degrees and low temperatures in the low teens.

Spring: March – April 

Let the sun shine! While we often get big dumps of snow in March, when it isn’t snowing, the temperatures are heating up to almost 40 degrees! Did someone say sweatshirt weather? These are great days for those who love skiing but maybe not the cold temps that are often associated with it. Breckenridge’s elevation keeps the snow in excellent condition, and you can find stashes of powder for days after a storm.

April – May: Late Season 

Still yearning for a ski day? In the late season, you can often find warmer temps and less crowded slopes. The mountain will begin to scale back operations and close down Peaks 10, 6, and 9 at the conclusion of April, leaving Peaks 8 & 7 open for the final month of the season. By this time, you can expect to be surfing the slush on warm sunny days – although I’ve experienced a handful of sneaky late-season snow storms at the beginning of May before! In April, highs are consistently in the 40s and creep up even higher in May! Usually, the slopes are quiet this time of year, and the town also has a little less foot traffic.

Once May rolls around, terrain availability is all dependent on the weather. The Resort intends to stay open until Memorial Day, but that is all weather dependent, and trails will begin to close down. Closing day, whether on May 31st or earlier, is usually a blast. You’ll see (and should participate in)lots of costumes and celebrations of a season well spent.

Sometimes it is hard to think back, months and months ago, to the first time you strapped in on a board or skis, but if you spent any of that time during one of the previous seasons, hopefully, the interim is filled with happy memories. This guide on terrain, temperatures, and conditions is all very weather dependent and it is best to check our Breckenridge Ski Resort’s snow report and lift & terrain status page before planning your visit. In addition, you can utilize the great weather reporting service, OpenSnow to check on how much snow has fallen or what is in the forecast. No matter the season you decide to visit Breckenridge, staying slopeside offers amazing access to the slopes; I’d highly recommend the special offers at the Grand Colorado on Peak 8 or the Grand Lodge on Peak 7! Click here for some exclusive offers for these properties!

Mountain Town Museum Tour

The town of Breckenridge (or Kingdom, as it was first known) was founded in 1859. Starting off as a mining settlement and morphing into the bustling ski town we know today, there is over 150 years of stories, characters and interesting events that have taken place above 9,600 ft. If you are looking to dive deep into the rich history of Breckenridge, here is a list of our top museums and historical sites to uncover!

  1. Breckenridge Welcome Center History Museum & Theater
    Location: 203 S. Main Street

     This free museum is a great way to learn about the history of Breckenridge and get information for planning your activities. Their rotating exhibits focus on the town, businesses and inhabitants that once called Breck home. This museum was once a log cabin that was covered up by newer buildings but was rediscovered and restored for all to enjoy.
  2. High Line Railroad Park & Playground
    Location: 189 Boreas Pass RoadThis is an amazing playground surrounded by historically accurate trains including the narrow gauge engine and the rotary snow plow. Behold the Rotary snow plow and imagine a time when this train would come roaring down the tracks while clearing off the snow to make it up the mountains. Another bonus of this playground and park is that it is located close to the resident troll, Isaak Hearthstone.
  3. Barney Ford House Museum
    Location: 111 East Washington Avenue
     Experience the historic Victorian home of one of Colorado’s most prolific businessmen. Barney Ford came to Colorado after already having lived an exciting life—escaping slavery, traveling to Nicaragua to open a business, and persisting through civil war and natural disasters which shuttered his early endeavors. He opened a hotel and Ford’s Chop House before going on to construct his home which is now a museum. Ford was an activist for equal education and voting rights for African Americans and is remembered for his persistence in the face of adversity.

  4. Iowa Hill Hike 
    Location: Iowa Hill Trail Head, Airport Road

    Learn about the deep mining history here in Breckenridge by exploring Iowa Hill on a short family-friendly hike. On this hike you can see and learn about the hydraulic placer mining that took place on this very site. Take in the sights, see the old boarding house, railcar and some fresh mountain air on this trek through time.
  5. Breckenridge Historic District
    Location: North end of Main Street

    A stroll down the north end of Main Street is all you need to take in the sites of these historic buildings and their new inhabitants. In the spring you will find fox pups frolicking in the grass near by or playing on the old mining equipment.
  6. Gold Pan Saloon
    Location: 103 N. Main Street
    Looking for a stop that parents will especially enjoy? Enjoy a visit to the watering hole which holds the longest continuous liquor license this side of the Mississippi River. The Gold Pan has been serving refreshments to customers for over 140 years and hosts of Breckenridge history and lore. After you’ve ordered a  libation, make sure to check out the safe that allegedly held Tom’s Baby, the largest piece of gold ever found in Colorado. If you are feeling famished, I highly recommend the French onion soup!
  7. Edwin Carter Discovery Center
    Location: 111 N. Ridge Street

    Visit the home of Edwin Carter, a Colorado conservationist who catalogued over 3,300 species of rocky mountain flora and fauna. His collection was so vast and comprehensive, it served as the basis for the collection of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. This is believed to be the second oldest museum in Colorado!

The best way to experience Breckenridge and all of its unique history is to plan a trip and stay with one of our preferred lodging partners. Click here to save up to 35% off your stay! 

Favorite Hiking Trails – Team Edition

The snow is melting and the mountain air is at a perfect temperature to be outside! The Best of Breckenridge team loves to enjoy their spare time outside wandering the trails in and around and in Breckenridge. So, we did our research in the office and asked everyone to share their favorites. Here’s what we found… the office really knows how to adventure out into the wilderness.