Work A Ski Season at Breckenridge
Discover information on working a ski season at Breckenridge and browse winter jobs.USA
Breckenridge was a mining town long before it was a ski resort which adds to the charm of working at Breckenridge. Breckenridge is located in the cluster of resorts in Summit County, Colorado, which includes Copper Mountain, Keystone, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin.
Overall for seasonal workers, Breck is probably the best resort at which to work in the Summit County region due to having the best terrain, the coolest and most vibrant town, possibly even in Colorado, a very friendly year-round local population and among the best terrain parks in the world. The only major downside to Breck is the huge crowds that frequent the resort, especially on holidays and weekends. Crowds are bigger than at other Summit County resorts.
Location and Getting There
Breckenridge is located in Summit County, Colorado. It is around a two hour drive (80 miles) to get to Breck from Denver taking the Interstate 70 west. The drive is very easy as the Interstate is cleared from snow regularly.
The nearest town is Frisco which has all the services and amenities you would require outside of Breckenridge (such as Walmart and car repairs).
If you don’t have a car, the best and easiest way to get to Vail is to take the Colorado Mountain Express (www.ridecme.com) which is a shuttle service. This goes straight from Denver Airport to Breckenridge and costs around $100, but Breck employees get free transportation.
Getting Around Town
Breck has the FREE RIDE shuttle which connects the base areas of the resort and the parking lots. It also runs around town and stops at the Ice Rink, City Market, Recreation Center, Village and Four O’ Clock Roads, Columbine and Broken Lance Drive and Peak 9.
Within Summit County, the Summit Stage bus provides free local transportation. Bus service is available to most ski areas, shopping centers, medical centers, and some residential areas in Summit County. The bus runs between Frisco, Copper Mountain, Keystone Ski Resort, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Arapahoe Ski Resort, Silverthorn, Dillon and Leadville.
Resort and Town Vibe
Breckenridge was founded in the 1850s to service the gold mining in the area. The historic buildings give the town a really cool vibe and stand in contrast to the purpose-built ski villages at other resorts. The locals are also extremely friendly which adds to the attraction of Breckenridge.
Breckenridge town is worth a visit even if you are working at another resort in Summit County. The resort is very slick, with nice lifts, well-groomed slopes and modern infrastructure servicing the large number of visitors.
Breck was the first ski resort in Colorado to allow snowboarders on the hill. This attitude has continued and Breck is a honeypot for terrain park riders with some of the best parks in Colorado.
Terrain at Breckenridge
Breckenridge is based around 4 peaks – Peak 7, Peak 8, Peak 9 and Peak 10, although most of the terrain is not actually on the peaks.
Breckenridge has a good selection of terrain for beginners and intermediates, and a decent selection for advanced and experts. There are 34 lifts in total, of which the major ones are high-speed to help move the crowds. The Imperial Express chairlift at Peak 8 is the highest chairlift in North America and lifts you to an altitude of 12,840 feet (3,914 meters). Even better, it is high-speed and takes just a few minutes. The views at the top are Colorado at its best.
Although Breck claims a vertical Rise of 3,398 feet / 1,036 meters, this includes hike-to terrain. The lift serviced vertical is several hundred metres shorter than this.
There are a lot of intermediate cruisers at Breck and it’s a good mountain for seasonal workers looking to work up their skills.
Peak 7 has a great area for intermediates although the crowds here are probably the worst on the mountain. Above the tree-line there is some hiking terrain and the best bowls on the mountain.
Peak 8 is where the resort was originally built around. Steer clear of this area closer to the base on a busy day due to the crowds. However, above the tree-line you will find some great open bowls, including the Lake Chutes which is the toughest, rockiest terrain on the mountain.
Peak 9 is mostly mild terrain for beginners and intermediates although you can find a few good bumps up higher. There are some nice, long cruisers at this part of the mountain.
Peak 10 is a smaller part of the mountain with shorter, steeper pitch runs, including black groomers and nice tree runs. You will find a bit of respite from the crowds here.
Backcountry is limited at Breckenridge as Colorado law doesn’t let you go out of bounds, except for special gates.
Average snowfall is just over 353 inches (8.97 meters) which is on the higher end for Colorado resorts. There is also snow-making over about 600 acres / 243 hectares of terrain, which is about one fifth of the skiable area.
The peaks at Breck help to increase the chance of snow due to its orographic lift. This means air mass is forced up to higher elevation as it moves over Breck’s rising terrain. This leads to cooling of the air and, often, snowfall.
Lift-accessed fresh powder can get tracked out quickly due to crowds, so you may need to hike a little on powder days once you get to the afternoon. Also, watch out for the windy conditions that often occur at Breck, especially at the peaks, which can make for difficult riding conditions.
- Skiable Terrain: 2908 acres / 1177 hectares
- Base Elevation: 9,600 feet / 2,926 meters
- Summit Elevation: 12,998 feet / 3,963 meters
- Vertical Rise: 3,398 feet / 1,036 meters
- Lifts: 34, of which 4 high-speed 6-passenger SuperChairs, 6 high-speed quad lifts, 1 Fixed Quad, 1 triple lift, 6 double lifts, 1 8-passenger gondola, 4 surface lifts, 11 carpet lifts
- Groomed Daily: 29% of total terrain
- Bowls: 1061 acres / 429 hectares
- Terrain Parks: 4 taking up 25 acres / 10 hectares
- Snowmaking: 600 acres / 243 hectares
- Number of Trails: 187
- Longest Trail: Four O’Clock – 3.5 miles / 5.6 kilometers
Because of its proximity to Denver, its cheap season passes and its awesome terrain and parks, Breckenridge is one of the busiest resorts in North America. This can mean some eye-watering lines at lifts, especially at the base and especially on weekends and holidays.
Some seasonal workers come to Breckenridge just for the terrain parks. The parks and pipe are among the best in the world and always ranked in the top handful each year by the industry. There are four parks and a 22 foot Super pipe.
The Freeway Terrain Park is the main park at Breck and attracts world-class riders pulling world-class tricks. It’s worth going to the park just to watch these guys. You will find four massive jumps and the amazing Super pipe here.
There are parks with beginner and intermediate features nearby for those who aren’t quite at pro-level.
How to Find a Job at Breckenridge
Breckenridge is run by Vail Resorts, which also owns Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone in Colorado. They are one of the largest ski companies in the world. This means on the one hand there are plenty of jobs available, but on the other hand the work environment can be more impersonal for a first-time seasonal worker.
All job openings for the Vail Company are posted at jobs.vailresortscareers.com
You need to start looking early for a job as they receive plenty of applications each season. Winter jobs are posted around late summer or early fall. You can apply for up to five positions at a time.
Minimum wage in Colorado is USD 8.23 per hour and most seasonal jobs pay around this.
Other Mountains you can Visit for Free
You will get a season pass to the other Vail resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone. Keystone is accessible by the free summit county bus but to get to Vail and Beaver Creek you will need a car.
Jobs in Town
If you are not looking for a winter job with the resort, there are also plenty of seasonal jobs available each season in town in hospitality and retail. Options include
- The Summit Daily which is the local newspaper.
- www.townofbreckenridge.com/ may also have jobs advertised
See Work a Winter Season in the United States for information on work visas to the U.S. and job programs for ski resorts.
Vail Resorts hires students on J-1 visas each year, principally through job partner programs which run job fairs in other countries. Vail works with three J-1 visa job companies:
Obtaining a sponsored H2B visa is a little difficult unless you have a specialized skill such as ski instructing. J-1 visas are the most likely way for internationals to get hired.
For Australians – If you obtain a J-1 visa yourself through a J-1 visa company, then you may be able to get a job with Vail through normal hiring processes.
If you have previously worked for Vail, it’s best to get in touch with your previous supervisor for direct hire again the next season.
Finding Accommodation for the Season
Breckenridge offers staff housing for employees. It is recommended to take this option unless you have something else lined up.
It is very expensive to rent in Breck unless you have a group of people already. But even if you come with a group, generally the better places are locked up already during the summer. Second, employee housing is quite social and is the best way to meet people, especially if it’s your first season.
In employee housing, you can get shared options (two to a room) for around $350 a month, or single options for around $500 a month. This is easily the cheapest option you will find in Breck for the season.
Staff housing is located on Airport Rd, which is just outside the main town. There are buses to take you into work and to the hill on your days off. However, they only come every half hour and finish around 10pm. So, on nights out you need to prepare for a pretty cold walk home, or try and get one of the very few cabs in town.
They can be quite strict of course in staff housing so if you lose your job for whatever reason you will be kicked out. Watch out also if you park your car in the parking lot, you could expect a few dings to the car during the season.
Renting in Town
If you’re not in staff housing, Breck does have properties available to rent but it can be difficult to find housing. The earlier you can get in, the better. You could expect to pay $600+ per person per room in town.
A few options for rental listings are:
For longer-term residents, the Summit Housing Authority has information on affordable housing projects in the area. They also have training for first-home buyers and people who qualify for Government assistance programs.
Employees at Breck also live in the local municipalities. These include Dillon, Silverthorne & Frisco in Summit County; Park County (Fairplay & Alma); Lake County (Leadville) and Clear Creek County (Georgetown & Idaho Springs).
The best place to shop for groceries is in Frisco which has a Safeway and a Walmart. The Summit Stage bus into Frisco is very handy for this and takes around 10 -15 minute. Silverthorne and Dillon are the places to go if you’re after cheaper gear during the season.
There are over 30 pubs, bars and restaurants on Main Street and you will never get tired of the nightlife in Breckenridge.
Favourites among seasonal workers include the T-bar which has incredible views over the Ten Mile Range and is the best spot for an après-ski drink and the Gold Pan Saloon which reportedly the oldest liquor license west of the Mississippi and has DJs playing beats on the weekends.
The Motherloaded Tavern has live music on the weekends and a great selection of house-infused liquors. Modis has some great cocktails, while Rita’s has Tacos and awesome tequilas. For late night dancing, Cecilia’s has the largest dance floor and DJs every night. If all of that isn’t enough, Frisco also has a number of clubs, bars and great restaurants.