Colorado Fun!

Alpine Slide-LEADWhen it comes to winter thrills, Colorado ski resorts offer nearly everything snow lovers crave. But just because skis and boards have been mothballed for the summer doesn’t eliminate reasons for visiting slope-side resorts.

Here are 33 summer adventures to be found around Colorado’s top ski communities. Like the trails and terrain, we’ve categorized activities by difficulty—family-friendly easy greens, more-challenging intermediate blues and adrenaline-infused advanced black-diamonds. Pick a pursuit and have some fun.

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Expansion of the Breckenridge Ski Area

imagesThe most popular destination for British skiers in the USA will be nearly a quarter as big again next season thanks to a long planned expansion plan being realised. Work is due to begin imminently on an expansion on to a fifth peak at Breckenridge ski resort in Colorado, one of America’s most authentic ski towns as well as one of the world’s highest ski areas -it’s top lift, the Imperial express, the world’s highest chairlift, less than 90m short of 4,000m above sea level.

The project will see ‘Peak 6’ linked to the existing ski area at Peak 7 by two chairlifts – a quad and a six seater – and the creation of more than 20 new runs both above and below the treeline. Peak 6 has been a long standing expansion dream for resort planners but many years of planning, local consultation and environmental assessments have had to go in to the plan, particularly with trees needing to be cut to create the new runs below the treeline.

Altogether Peak 6 will unlock lift-served access to 543 acres of terrain, taking Breckenridge’s today ski area size to nearly 3,000 acres and placing it within the US top 20 on size. The new terrain will include five high Alpine bowls and some 23 runs, 13 of them located above three treeline, the remaining 10 cut through the forest.

The above treeline terrain will be intermediate level terrain and Breckenridge’s first above-treeline intermediate grade slopes.  The exact opening date of the new terrain is yet to be decided and Breckenridge, which formally closed for the season last weekend, will re-open this after several feet of powder fell in the last few days.  Great for skiing but less helpful for beginning construction for next winter!

Do More in Breckenridge

SONY DSCFilling a day of activities has never really been a problem for those in Breckenridge, whether they are visitors or residents. The options are wide in range and scope. Keep in mind, Breckenridge has a fascinating past, a unique and wonderful story that makes our community what it is today. There is no other place in the world like Breckenridge, Colorado.

Learning some of that past, a bit of that historic story, can add a great deal of value to your Breckenridge experience. Museums and historic sites can consume your entire day, or a lazy hour. Offerings range from mining history, Victorian life, snowshoe treks, railroad history and our path to the ski industry. Try the Welcome Center Museum first. With displays that run the gamut of our historical timeline, a children’s loft, and a more interactive feel, you can gain an in-depth overview and still entertain them all.

The history literally surrounds you. Stopped in Starbucks while in town? The Main Street location used to be the home of Frank and Theta Brown, long time residents. Frank served as the Mayor of Breckenridge and as the Summit County Treasurer for many years during the 60s. Nearly all of the restaurants and shops you enjoy in this community have a story. As you explore Breckenridge, consider what may have come before; consider who may have come before.

Looking Back at Breckenridge History

IMG_4499Long before white settlers from the east crossed the Continental Divide, the area that would become Breckenridge was part of the summer hunting grounds of the nomadic White River and Middle Park Ute Native Americans. Although there were a few white trappers, mountain men, and traders roaming the area as early as 1840, the establishment of a town was the result of America’s mid-nineteenth-century rush to settle the West. By 1859 the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush was on, and discovery of gold in the Breckenridge area brought miners and fortune seekers to the “Blue River Diggings.”

By 1862, the Civil War and increasing difficulty in locating free, accessible gold began to clear the camp of prospectors. By 1870 the population of Breckenridge had plummeted to 51. Breckenridge was quiet and would remain so until large-scale hydraulic mining created a boom in the early 1870s.

In 1879, rich silver and lead carbonates were discovered, and fortune hunters once again invaded Breckenridge. Miners, merchants, and professionals migrated to the mining camp for a different reason than in 1859. This time it was for silver rather than gold. Breckenridge became an important hard-rock mining location and a prominent supply center. There was plenty of “elbow room” to grow, and the community organized and incorporated a town government in 1880. An ambitious grid was laid out for the 320-acre town site. Breckenridge’s wide, main street easily allowed freight wagons to turn around, and soon it became the center of social and athletic activities. During this mining heyday, the downtown provided miners with a variety of attractions. Without diversions, life in the mining camp would have been an endless cycle of routine work.

A number of Breckenridge’s historic buildings were also lost during the “postwar” period for a variety of reasons. Some property owners demolished their structures to reduce their tax burden. Other buildings were lost to accidental fires, and some were purposely burned in practice exercises for volunteer fire crews. Some buildings were even torn down for firewood. While economic activity and population declined with the cessation of mining, Breckenridge never became a ghost town. Instead, it remained home to a few hardy, resilient residents.  A decade later, on December 16, 1961, Rounds and Porter, a Wichita, Kansas lumber company, opened the Breckenridge Ski Area, and a new boom era began. Transportation improvements fueled a new Breckenridge recreation “rush.”

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Lively Apres-Ski / Nightlife in Breckenridge

bartender2 Breckenridge’s liveliest apres-ski bars are Tiffany’s in Beaver Run, the Breckenridge Brewery for a great handcrafted brew, Park Avenue Pub in the Village, and Mi Casa, with thirst-quenching margaritas. Bubba Gump’s has a heated outdoor deck with a smashing view of the mountain. Fatty’s bar takes up the entire first floor and locals fill it to the brim. The Maggie holds her own among the apres-ski crowd with good drink specials.

Want to go where the locals go? Head to Blue River Bistro for the martini specials or to South Ridge Seafood for brews on tap.If you’re having trouble adjusting to the altitude, head over to the O2 Lounge in La Cima Mall, where you can enjoy an herbal martini and oxygen-enriched air in 10- 20- and 30-minute increments.

While Tiffany’s rocks until the wee hours, after dinner most of the action moves into town. At Eric’s you’ll find a rowdy crowd on TV sports nights. Sherpa and Yeti’s on Main Street is the hot spot for live music and dancing, with a variety of bands playing blues, jazz, funk and reggae, plus local musicians’ nights, all in an unfinished-sheet-rock atmosphere. This place really rocks, so if you packed your dancin’ shoes, head here. Salt Creek on East Lincoln has live music and a huge upstairs dance floor that brings in the younger crowd. There’s always a long wait line to get into the action. The Dredge, which is a replica of the dredge boats that churned the Blue River for gold in the early 1900s, has a classy bar.

Summit County’s 9:1 male-to-female ratio dramatically improves at The Quandary on Monday nights when those with two X chromosomes get free beer.

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Top Ski Bars In Colorado’s High Country

imagesColorado’s high country is home to some of the most fun ski bars in the United States. After all, Colorado provides some of the most fantastic skiing in the world. Once you’ve hit the slopes for the day, it’s time to unwind with friends and family. Below are five of the best apres-ski watering holes to replenish. My favorite bar in Telluride is the historic Sheridan. Click here to read CBSDenvers favorite high country bars.

Secret Stash, Crested Butte, CO – Secret Stash has the best pizza, wings and beer in the Crested Butte area. The pub is a very popular hangout after a long day of skiing or snowboarding. It has been a staple in the area since 2002 and features a happy hour each weekday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  It’s a restaurant and a fun bar hangout all in one. 

Ajax Tavern,  Aspen, CO – Ajax Tavern is located in Aspen, at the base of Aspen Mountain. This is a fantastic restaurant during the day. One of its most popular entrees is the Ajax double cheeseburger with truffle fries. Once your day of skiing is done, you can kick back and relax with friends in the bar area. It’s a fun place to hang out with a great selection of the finest wines, as well as signature martinis and microbrews.

Cecilia’s Martini Bar, Breckenridge, CO-  Cecilia’s Martini Bar is located in Breckenridge. It provides an amazingly fun time to spend with friends and family after a great day on the slopes. Cecilia’s has a vast selection of spirits, including its signature martinis. There are nightly DJs, making it a prime spot to keep those ski legs loose with dancing.

Colorado Ski Visits Down 11%

colorado-ski-map-620x406According to The Colorado Springs Business Journal ski visits across the state of Colorado are down 11.5% so far this season, compared to the same period last year. The Journal sites the lack of snow and late openings for many Colorado resorts as major factors in the drop of skier traffic.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors, and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, a nonprofit industry group that represents several of the state’s largest ski resorts. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December.”

Despite the slow start, ski areas saw a strong holiday period with conditions more in line with an average year. The New Year started with storms, which bodes well for the rest of the season, she said.

“There is some real buoyancy in the indicators for the months ahead. February and March hotel bookings are pacing ahead of last year by 3.5 percent and 8.6 percent respectively,” Mills said. “Carnival and Easter are well-timed for ski visitation this year and Colorado’s traditional snowier months lie ahead.”.

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Summit County Foreclosures Hit Three-Year Low in 2012

julyfc2012Foreclosures in Summit County fell to the lowest levels since 2008 last year, dropping to 264 in 2012 from 316 in 2011, according to data from the Summit County Treasurer’s Office. Accounting for the number of foreclosures that involved time-share properties, which fluctuates, local filings for single-family homes appear to be on track to return to pre-recession levels.

There were 33 foreclosures in 2008. That number spiked to 47 in 2009 and got as high as 145 in 2011 before beginning to decline last year.  “It could be people’s financial situations improving,” Summit County Treasurer Bill Wallace said. “Or, the other guess is second-home owners are either unable to keep their homes or haven’t been buying second homes. “ Though foreclosures are holding steady to last year so far in 2013, experts expect to see the number of filings decline again over the next 12 months, saying Summit County’s market seems to be directly linked to, though slightly behind, Denver’s.  “It’s coming back down,” said Maggie Dew, business development officer for Stuart Title in Frisco. “We’re close enough to Denver that when their market is strong, then our market is strong as well. However, we do lag behind their market.”

Foreclosure sales across the state have fallen to a six-year low, down 18 percent in 2012 from the year before, with all but 15 counties across the state posting declines last year.  There are more than 30,000 properties on the tax roll in Summit County, and only a small fraction of them have been foreclosed, even through the rough economy of the last few years.

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Colorado Revenue Continues to Grow, Economists Say

imagesColorado’s economy continues to outperform expectations, spurred on by tax revenue from stock sales, although unemployment remains high, state economists told lawmakers Monday.  The state’s tax receipts are expected to be $548.2 million, or 7.1 percent higher, this budget year than the prior year, according to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s economists. The latest quarterly forecast from state economists touched on familiar trends of past reports: Colorado’s economy is outperforming the national economy, but there remains caution because of the revenue growth is driven by taxes on one-time stock sales.  “We have clue after clue that what we’re dealing with is volatile revenue stream,” said Henry Sobanet, Hickenlooper’s budget director.  With the adjusted revenue numbers from December, the state’s general fund is expected to be $8.3 billion for the fiscal year that began in July. The general fund now exceeds the pre-Great Recession peak of $7.7 billion in 2007. The quarterly forecast released Monday afternoon will play a key role in the upcoming debate over the budget, especially as lawmakers debate an overhaul of the state’s system to fund schools. Lawmakers typically give final approval to the budget next month.  State legislative economists also delivered a separate forecast to lawmakers Monday with a similar outlook of cautious optimism for the state.  “I believe it is the spring of this recovery. However, know that storms can still happen in the spring,” said Natalie Mullis, the Legislature’s chief economist.

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Market Insights: THE Simplest Way to Get an Unbelievable Deal

bildeBuy and hold. Three words — that’s it.
The national housing outlook is positive.  The consensus of a panel of economists is that due to low inventory, low housing construction in recent years and pent-up buyer demand, that over the next 10 years we can expect prices to go up around 40 percent or +/-3 percent a year, which is in line with past average appreciation.
Prices in Summit County have plummeted since the peak. The economists mentioned above stated that nationally prices have fallen 33 percent. Here is what is happening in Summit County. Minimum drop in prices- 20 percent.  Typical drop in prices – 25 percent. Very common drop in prices – 30 percent.  The largest drop in prices – 40 percent.

In other words, everything is on sale right now. No matter what you buy, you are getting a deal.  Summit County price appreciation lags the rest of the nation.

There have been three market slumps. The first started in1973 and lasted four years. The next one started in 1981 and dragged on for seven years. And, of course, the current one that started here in 2008 (two years after the rest of the nation).  Based on my experience, our market lags the rest of the country going into and coming out of real estate slumps.

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