“Is the park open yet,” asked three-year-old Melissa turning from her mother to stare expectantly out the restaurant window to a motionless chair lift.
“Not yet honey,” her mother said. “We have to wait a bit longer.”
The family of four from Iowa is in the middle of a week-long Colorado vacation. After visiting Denver and Estes Park, they are spending the last leg of their vacation in the mountain town of Breckenridge to let their children play away bottled up energy and learn about the forest at the same time with Breckenridge Ski Resort’s new Epic Discovery Program.
The historic Colorado mining town turned ski mecca is 80 miles west of Denver. It is famously known as one of the most-visited ski resorts in America, but when the snow melts and the wildflowers bloom Breckenridge has a wider variety of summer outdoor activities than winter activities.
Each summer, mountain biking trails, hiking paths and whitewater rafting tours call visitors to the mountains. For those not as adventurously-inclined, this year’s opening of Epic Discovery, a mountain theme park of sorts, allows them to try summertime mountain activities in a beginner’s environment. Along with an Alpine SuperSlide, the Gold Runner Coaster, a Bungee Trampoline and Expedition Zip Line, the park has a variety of hiking trails, mountain biking paths and a climbing wall to for all skill levels.
From the base of the One Ski Hill Place hotel summer adventurers take a scenic ten-minute ride up a chair lift to the Alpine Camp. The 35-foot Gold Summit Climbing Wall test the skills of all ability levels with 13 climbing routes and once mountain bikers master the beginner’s half-mile trail, they have several intermediate and advanced trails to test out their new skills.
Scattered throughout the camp are informational signs and interactive stations teaching visitors tidbits about the history of Breckenridge, geology, wildlife and environment. One station allows guests to test the strength of a beaver bite compared to a human bite. Both are strong, but the beaver is a powerhouse compared to us.
To promote education through the eco-discovery expeditions, Epic Discovery partnered with The Nature Conservancy, a leading conservation non-profit organization that promotes wilderness education and awareness. The resort will donate one percent of all summer lift ticket and activity revenue to the Nature Conservancy for forest restoration projects on national forest lands.
It is not all educational or traditional outdoor activities on the mountain. The lines to the coaster and alpine slides were never short, but one of the park’s biggest draws is the zip line. The Expedition Zip Line Tour allows guest to take in stunning views of Summit County as they soar over the White River National Forest.
Younger kids can still take part in the Little Flyer Zipline designed for those who weigh less than 100 pounds. They can also spend the day panning for gold at the Mini Miner Gemstone Panning station, playing mini golf with their family or jumping in the Ripperoo’s Bounce House.
Epic Discovery is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Activity passes range from $40-$82.