Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

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Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Postby The Great Zo » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:53 pm

Here's a short trip report on a different kind of park, and one I don't think has been covered at TPR in the past. On a recent trip to Colorado, I made a brief stop at the Breckenridge Ski Resort, to check out their Epic Discovery summer activities.

Like many ski resorts, the Breckenridge Ski Resort has looked for ways to capitalize on their location to make the most out of the summer season. The resort is owned by the same people who own ski resorts in Vail, CO and Park City, UT, two resorts that have already expanded their run of attractions beyond skiing. With that in mind, for 2017, Breckenridge re-branded their previous Peak 8 Fun Park into Epic Discovery, with plans to continue to expand the park's offerings in conjunction with the US Forest Service (White River National Forest) and The Nature Conservancy. The park opened for the season on June 9, and I visited on June 12 -- just the fourth day of operations! From what I could tell, everything seemed to be running smoothly. Several major aspects of the park are not scheduled to open until July 1, including chair lift rides, hikes, and bike trails at higher elevation. At the time of my visit, most of the operating attractions were the ones close to the ski resort at the base of the mountains.

For the hardened theme park enthusiasts, the attractions of greatest interest are the alpine coaster (GoldRunner) and the triple-trough alpine slide. I rode each attraction once, and while I enjoyed them both, I think the slide came away as the winner! I didn't have time to ride anything else, but I got enough pictures to put together a small report, and I'll mention some of the other attractions along the way. I should note that this was not a theme park vacation, hence only making a quick stop here, while completely ignoring Elitch's and Lakeside. Maybe some other time. But since I visited some other awesome places, I'll close out with a few selected pictures from the other spots I visited.

My only complaint, and it's kind of a big one, is the cost. An all-day unlimited pass is $82. That's a boatload of money for what, at least for now, is a half-day experience at most. Perhaps that will improve once the additional attractions open in July. The option to buy access to single attractions is available, which is what I did for the alpine slide and coaster -- at $25 each. Sort of a "well, I won't be back here any time soon since I live in Ohio" thing, as I opted to hand over the credit card and take the hit. If you can get over the price, I really thought this was a fun venue with a great atmosphere -- and if you're into mountains, the setting can't be beat. Ride ops and employees were friendly and helpful across the board. The whole resort looks pretty great, too, in case you're into staying there in the winter! As for me, this is my preferred way to see snow -- at 75 degrees in June.

On to the pictures!
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Say hello to Peak 8!
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Peak 8 is part of the Tenmile Range, a range of the Rocky Mountains that Breckenridge is adjacent to.
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One of the interesting things about the Breckenridge Ski Resort is that you can't actually park at the resort. The fun part about that is that you get to take a gondola ride to get there!
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The parking area for the gondola ride is located just north of downtown Breckenridge. The main lot costs $10 to park in, but the south lot -- which is adjacent -- is free.
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Gondolas and mountains.
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A map of the Breckenridge Ski Resort area, with plenty of runs for people who like to ski -- which doesn't include me.
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Here's the downtown station for the Breck Connect gondola. While the gondola requires tickets during the busy winter season, it's free during the summer! So, in theory, you could just ride the gondola back and forth and never pay a cent.
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Safety info for the Breck Connect gondola.
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These are Leitner Poma gondolas, which is probably of interest to at least a couple people here.
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Riding onward and upward.
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Looking back at the downtown station.
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This is not your standard scenery.
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A constant stream of gondola cars means the wait to get on should be minimal, if any.
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For 2018, they're building an RMC, as you can see.

(or it's just another resort hotel, but I like my version better)
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Welcome to Breckenridge! Off the gondola at the main resort area.
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Epic Discovery is new for 2017, though most of the activities that were open during my visit on June 12 were previously in place as part of the Peak 8 Fun Park.
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The Ski Hill Grill is one of the restaurants available -- I think there will be more later in the summer, including one that's way up Peak 8 and accessible by chair lift.
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Yes, there's a bar.
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Looking at some of the activities -- a mini golf course and the alpine slide.
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Before you can run to the activities, first you have to visit the Activities Center to sign a waiver and purchase a wristband. The wristband can be good for unlimited activities all day, or just for select activities on an a la carte basis.
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There's Peak 8 again, which the ski resort is built at the base of. A plethora of chair lifts were not operating, but they eventually plan to get one running to near the top.
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My first attraction was the alpine slide.
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I admit -- I have never done an alpine slide before. I went in as a rookie. This was going to be interesting.
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The slide down isn't the only part of the ride -- you also get a ride up the #5 chair lift!
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As I boarded the chair lift, I understood part of the reason for the waiver I had to sign: they don't lower the bar. Have fun on your restraint-free, tiny-bench-seat ride up the mountain!
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The chair lift passes over the alpine slide, which criss-crosses underneath it.
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So, along the way, you get some views of the people riding down.
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A look north...
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...and a look back down the hill at the main resort building, and the base of the park.
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Climbing the hill a little higher.
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How far does this go? The lift and slides cover a horizontal distance of almost a half mile, and the elevation change is almost 500 feet!
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Riding ahead.
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As I rode the lift, I watched the people on the slide -- some of them used the brakes and slowed themselves down, and a few brave souls went all out, catching some serious banking on the turns.
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Going higher, I found a little more snow.
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Another look back down the hill.
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Trees and mountains to the southeast.
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The three slide troughs are lettered, from left to right, C - B - A.
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They all seem to follow the same general path, but based on the lines at the top, people seemed to prefer Slide C.
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How can I raise my bar here if the bar was never lowered?T
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Arriving at the alpine slide platform.
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So, yeah, about that waiver I signed...
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...what am I getting myself into?
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Rules are actually kind of important on a ride like this.
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At the top, and about ready to go.
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What a view!

So, how was my first alpine slide experience? Actually kind of scary, but really fun! I went full-on for the majority of the course, but did tap the brakes heading into a few of the tighter corners. That was probably unnecessary, but hey, this was my first time on one of these! I never came close to overturning, thankfully, but it's weird to be moving that fast with zero restraints or safety devices. Honestly, between the views on the chair lift and the experience going down, this was easily worth the visit by itself.
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Next, I headed to the GoldRunner alpine coaster. This would be my fourth alpine coaster -- I have already been on three in Tennessee (Smoky Mountain, Goats on the Roof, Gatlinburg). How would this one compare?
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GoldRunner is a Wiegand coaster. The line moved quickly -- I waited all of five minutes.
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After demonstrating your proficiency with the braking system, head up the lift hill.
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Get ready for some awesome scenery along the way.
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I really enjoyed this coaster, though it's not a perfect ride. Its main detractor is its length -- it's pretty short, comparable to the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, and /especially/ comparable to the alpine slide here at Breckenridge. It also has a pretty sizable amount of auto-braking along the course. However...
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...with the way the course is designed, that auto-braking is actually rather necessary! This is one of the more intense alpine coasters I've been on. You could really feel some of the turns, and there were legit (though short) pops of air on a few occasions!
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Finally, no matter how much I love the Smoky Mountains, the setting on this coaster is an order of magnitude more impressive. Steep terrain with snow-capped peaks in the distance. This coaster winds its way through trees on the way down, so you mix those views in with some close calls through the evergreens. The overall experience is pretty great. With that said, if I were spending more time at Breckenridge, I'd likely spend more of my time on the alpine slide.
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Looking at some of the other attractions -- here's the bottom station for a rather lengthy zip line.
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This would have been fun, as it's actually fairly steep.
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I would have liked to try the tubing -- I've seen videos of summer tubing at other similar parks, and it looks like fun!
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They also had a bungee / trampoline area. Some of the other attractions at the park include a maze, mini-golf, and gemstone panning -- with other activities at higher elevation slated to open later in the summer.
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Actually, one of the best activities at the park was completely free: a huge leftover mound of snow near the coaster station.
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I said I hate snow, but it's a lot more tolerable when it's 75 degrees outside! I tried to stay out of the way of this group of hooligan snowball fighters, but one managed to get me anyway.
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Looking over the resort from the snow pile.
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The main hotel / lodge / resort area looks pretty nice!
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The seating area near the restaurant / bar.
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Looking over at the lift hill for the coaster, which runs alongside the trees. The downhill portion winds its way through the trees.
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The GoldRunner coaster station.
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A view of the other end of the park, with heavy construction on the new resort area being built to the north.
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Mini golf and the maze.
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The bottom of the alpine slide -- hopefully you remember to hit the brakes before the end.
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If not, you'll stop one way or another.
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A view up the mountain toward the alpine slide's chair lift.
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Another view of the lift.
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Sliding down under the lift (and why you wouldn't want to drop from one of the chairs).
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Some necessary sharp banking on the walls of the slide.
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Where it's OK to hit the brakes!
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Riding the slide, pt 1.
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Riding the slide, pt 2.
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Riding the slide, pt 3.
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Riding the slide, pt 4.
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Looking up the ski slope that the giant snow pile is on.
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For all your snow-moving needs.
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Even if you don't ride much, anyone can appreciate the views in the mountains, like this one.
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Better hope you're acclimated, though -- the base of the resort is over 9000 feet above sea level!
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A quick look over the construction walls at the new addition.
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Time to get back on the gondola and head out. Glad I was able to stop in here. Wish it were a little cheaper, but once they get all the activities going, it should be a great spot to spend the better part of a day!
Last edited by The Great Zo on Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:34 pm.
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Re: Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Postby The Great Zo » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:54 pm

Now for some extra stuff, because Colorado is pretty awesome.
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St. Mary's Glacier is remarkably scenic.
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A view over some high mountains from Guanella Pass.
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A night-time view over Boulder from an overlook on the slope of Flagstaff Mountain.
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Creepy tree and lighting on Flagstaff Mountain.
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The moon rises over US-36 near Boulder.
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A classic scene in Rocky Mountain National Park, which has many good views, but was most notable for its wildlife.
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Such as elk!
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And marmots!
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And chipmunks! (hi Elissa)
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A really-long-exposure shot of Tenmile Peak over the Dillon Reservoir well past sunset.
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Ended the trip on North America's highest auto road -- the road to Mount Evans.
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Mount Evans is one of Colorado's famous 14ers -- one of 50+ peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation above sea level. Because of that, this is /not/ a good place to go on your first day in Colorado, unless you enjoy altitude sickness. I did this on the last day of my trip, and dealt with the expected shortness of breath and fatigue, but did not have any more serious issues.
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There's a parking area near the top of Mount Evans, but the summit requires a short hike. With the summit trail completely snowed over, though, it quickly turned into a moderately-steep snow/rock scramble to get to the top.
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At the summit of Mount Evans -- 14,264 feet above sea level.
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Spectacular views in all directions.
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36 miles away and 9,000 feet below, downtown Denver is visible!
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Re: Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Postby Canobie Coaster » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:24 pm

Great report as always!

I do love mountain coasters, but have yet to try an alpine slide. I know I'd want to go full tilt all the way down, but also don't want to badly injure myself. My dad has scars from overturning his sled back at Attitash years ago. That is interesting that you note that ski lift has no restraints after the events that happened at Great Escape this weekend. The ski lift looks considerably higher here as well.
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Re: Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:55 am

Very cool report. Lots of stuff I haven't seen before.

^ I doubt this place cares at all what happened at Great Escape. Ski resorts have been operating lifts with no restraints for decades with no problems. Not to mention this trip probably occurred before that incident anyway.
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Re: Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Postby MayTheGForceBeWithYou » Tue Jun 27, 2017 3:50 am

Canobie Coaster wrote:That is interesting that you note that ski lift has no restraints after the events that happened at Great Escape this weekend. The ski lift looks considerably higher here as well.

Most chairs have them (including Chair 5), but the operators tend to leave their use up to the passengers. If you want to lower the bar, you can reach up and pull it down: if you don't, it's no big deal.
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Re: Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Postby The Great Zo » Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:21 pm

Canobie Coaster wrote:I do love mountain coasters, but have yet to try an alpine slide. I know I'd want to go full tilt all the way down, but also don't want to badly injure myself. My dad has scars from overturning his sled back at Attitash years ago.


I was at full speed or nearly full speed for the majority of the descent, and never came close to flipping, so I think I found the right balance of not risking it too much. I have, however, managed to flip a single-person tube on a water slide!

MayTheGForceBeWithYou wrote:Most chairs have them (including Chair 5), but the operators tend to leave their use up to the passengers. If you want to lower the bar, you can reach up and pull it down: if you don't, it's no big deal.


Yup, it did have a bar, but I didn't even realize that until I was most of the way up the ride. Interesting that both the alpine coaster and alpine slide required everyone to receive a safety briefing before riding, but they pretty much just threw me on the chair lift!
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Re: Photo TR: Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Postby Vicent8 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:52 am

Oh.my god. What a epci discovery. :br


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