Getting Oriented

The great east–west Colorado corridor I–70 cleaves through the heart of Summit County, punching west from Denver past Idaho Springs and Georgetown. The traffic here can be heavy and fast; everyone is in a hurry to make it through the Eisenhower Tunnel, the traditional gateway to Summit County. Those with an extra half hour and a yearning for hairpin turns, shaggy mountain goats, and 100-mile views opt for U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide. As it drops into the Summit County Basin on the west side of the divide, U.S. 6 passes Arapahoe Basin and Keystone Ski Resort before merging with I–70. Both roads skirt Dillon Reservoir, with its shoreline communities of Dillon and Frisco. The highway quickly disappears back into a narrow mountain valley and climbs to Copper Mountain and then up and over Vail Pass.

Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. Tucked up a western valley off the Continental Divide, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin tend to attract more of a local—and hardier—ski crowd, and hikers in summer. Keystone is an intimate resort town but "A-Basin" is little more than a ski area.

Lake Dillon and Breckenridge. Dillon and Frisco are twin towns hugging the shores of Dillon Reservoir, a sparkling human-made lake. Skiers will bypass both for Breckenridge, the largest ski area in Summit County. "Breck" has a blend of authentic Colorado character with a flashy dose of upscale lodges and high-end condos.

Copper Mountain and Leadville. Farther west on I–70, Copper Mountain makes up for a lack of mountain charm with its near-perfect ski mountain. The high-altitude mountain town of Leadville will leave you breathless, both from the thin air and from the gorgeous views of Colorado's highest peak, 14,440-foot Mount Elbert.

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