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What Goes Into Planning An Itinerary?

What Goes Into Planning An Itinerary?

main image photo credit: Jens Kreuter via Unsplash

Trusting someone to provide travel recommendations for somewhere they have never been is rarely a good idea.  That is why I am only writing itineraries for places I have personally visited.  To help give you a little more insight and trust into my research and planning, I am sharing my personal itinerary for an upcoming trip before I go.  After the trip, I will report back on what worked and what needs to be changed and will update the itinerary for future use now that it has been vetted.  Super thanks to my friend Kel Nino who is local to the area and advised on what kind of things we should do for the weekend!

I start with a list of major activities we want to do, in this case getting to the mountains, ski school, and dog sledding, and then researched online and booked those.  From there I worked in where we should stay to be close to those, where we would want to eat based on reviews and location, and then filled in any holes with highly recommended activities nearby.  Most of the research was word of mouth from my friend in the area, but I also use Trip Advisor and Google Reviews extensively. Finally, I read some Lonely Planet guidebooks available on Kindle Unlimited (for free!) to get some background and history on the area and confirmed my general timeline and activities. This itinerary took around 6 total hours of research and booking phone calls/emails to coordinate, using the starting information I got from my friends.


The Itinerary

Day 1

  • catch evening flight from home to Denver, Colorado
  • pick up rental car at airport
  • stay at hotel near airport and turn in for the night

Day 2

Attire for the day - comfortable clothes for the drive and a short hike; have warm layers and snow gear handy for the dog sledding in the afternoon

  • 8:30 am - depart hotel for the mountains [note: I am planning to stay on East Coast time, so anticipate being an early riser, but you could easily shift this to meet your time zone preferences]
  • 9:30 am - arrive in Red Rocks Park (60 min drive from airport)
    • park opens ~7:30 am
  • 9:40 am - 10:45 am - Hiking in the park
    • Red Rocks Trail Map
    • The Trading Post Trail is 1.4 miles in length, and goes through spectacular rock formations, valleys and a meadow; wear hiking boots
  • 10:45 - 11:30 am - Eat at the Ship Rock Grille with fantastic overlook views of the park; opens at 10:30 am
  • 11:30 am - depart Red Rocks for Wildernest (60 min drive)
  • 12:30 pm check into rental
    • If not ready to hand off keys, at least fill out paperwork and come back to get keys later
  • 1 pm - depart check in center for dog sled location (30 min drive)
    • Head towards Frisco
    • From Frisco, head South on Hwy 9 (Summit Blvd) towards Breckenridge.
    • Drive about 6 miles until you get to the stop-light at the Tiger Road intersection
    • At Tiger Road, turn left and continue on for 6.5 miles until the road dead-ends in our parking lot. Don’t second-guess yourself just keep going until you get to us!
  • NLT 1:45 pm - check in for dog sledding with Good Times Adventure Tours
    • dress in warm layers for a snow/ski type outing; bring camera
  • 2:15 - 3:30 pm - dog sled excursion
  • 4 pm or 4:30 pm - Breckenridge Distillery Tour
    • 1925 Airport Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424
    • (970) 547-9759
    • daily every half hour from 11 am to 5:30 pm; call ahead to place on tour list or just stop in
  • After 5:30 - Dinner in Silverthorne at Dam Brewery or (if there is a wait) Baker’s Brewery
  • pick up groceries for breakfast and pick up keys to condo if not already procured
  • get settled in condo and turn in

Day 3

Attire for the day: ski clothes, goggles, hat, gloves, boots, water bottle and a snack bar, money and ID, change of clothes for evening in Breckenridge

  • 7:00 am - depart condo for Breckenridge (40 min drive)
  • 7:45 am - park in North or South Lots and pay at lot
  • 8 am -  BreckConnect Gondola opens; 10 min ride from parking lot to Peak 8
  • 8-8:30 am check in at Peak 8 Base Camp for Breckenridge Ski School; pick up gear that you pre-reserved
  • 8:45 am - 3:30 pm - first timer group for ski lessons; lunch break TBD within the group
  • 3:30 pm return gear and take Gondola back into Breckenridge Village
  • ~4 pm - apres ski drinks at Angel’s Hollow.
  • ~5:30 pm - dinner at Angel’s Hollow or The Dredge
  • back at the condo - soak sore muscles in the hot tub

Day 4

Attire for the day - snow gear in the morning, keep change of clothes for car ride and airplane handy

  • 8:30 am depart condo and drop off keys
  • 9 - 11 am - self guided snowshoeing at the Frisco Nordic Center
    • (970) 668-0866
    • 616 Recreation Way, Frisco, Colorado  80442
    • walk ins welcome; $20 rental and $20 trail permit pp; 2 great trails start from the center
  • 12 pm depart for the airport (2 hours minimum drive, plus allow for weekend traffic)
  • mid -late afternoon return rental car and flight home

Getting There

Most people fly into Denver International Airport, which is about 2 hours from Breckenridge and Copper Mountain, the first two big ski areas along Hwy 70, with Vail being an additional 30 min away. 

If you plan to move around, as suggested in the itinerary above, you will need a rental car.  Easiest pickup is at the airport.  If you are a slopes fiend and are planning to stay on a resort with ski in/out, then skip the rental and use a transportation service to get you to the ski town and back.  Breckenridge is very walk-able and has good local transit for free once you are there.

Where To Stay

Near the airport

Best for arriving late or departing early; no frills just a clean, safe place to sleep; <$120 per night

Ski in/out in Breckenridge

If you want to spend as much time as possible on the slopes or in the fun little town of Breckenridge, its worth paying the premium for the resort with ski in/out and privilege of early access on Friday morning; also will save money because you don't need a rental car.  Prices vary greatly by date of travel.

  • 3 stars - The Village at Breckenridge Resort is a ski-in/ski-out property at the base of Peak 9, close to boutique shops and award-winning restaurants along Main Street in the historic downtown area.
  • 4 stars - The DoubleTree by Hilton Breckenridge, located directly across the street from Peak 9 at world-renowned Breckenridge Ski Resort, offers a true mountain experience with spectacular Rocky Mountain views. This full-service resort hotel is within walking distance of the Beaver Run SuperChair as well as historic Main Street. 
  • 4 stars - Mountain Thunder Lodge, an elegant all-condominium-suite retreat, is situated in a beautiful wooded area in the heart of historic Breckenridge – a perfect location for your relaxing mountain escape.

Condo rental in the mountains

VRBO is the best site to rent a condo for a few days.  Properties in Breckenridge are at a premium so if you are willing to stay about 30 minutes away there are great options with 2-3 bedrooms for ~$200/night in Frisco, Silverthorne, and Wildernest.

What To Pack

  • ski jacket and waterproof pants
  • base layer (long underwear or moisture wicking pants and shirt)
  • polar fleece or warmth layer
  • hat and headband
  • scarf or muffler
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • ski goggles
  • gloves and hand warmers
  • hiking boots and/or snow boots
  • hiking socks and ski socks
  • clean and casual evening wear (jeans or ski attire is the norm)
  • swimsuit
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