One of the more popular places to stay in the beautiful state of Colorado is Breckenridge. It's for a good reason! This part of the state has some absolutely stunning landscapes and plenty of fun outdoor activities to enjoy.
In this article, we’re narrowing in on 5 things to do in Breckinridge. Plus, they are all either cheap or completely free for all the budget-friendly families out there like us.
Camp at Lowry Campground
When finding a campsite near Breckenridge, sometimes it's a good idea to look a little further away from the actual town than whatever is within city limits. It also can open you up to faster access to the things you want to see within the area. When we camp in this part of Colorado, we like to stay at campsites in the surrounding national forests. Through lots of research, we discovered Lowry Campground. As it turned out, it was perfect for our needs.
What is so great about Lowry Campground? Well, the location! This campground is near three great mountain towns: Frisco, Dillon, and Breckenridge. From here, you can quickly access the well-known local Frisco Adventure Park, Dillon's great deep water marina, and of course, there’s tons to do in Breckenridge. That's not all, there are numerous great trails nearby. We will discuss two of them we enjoy a bit later.
When you drive uphill to Lowry Campground, you’ll first notice the absolutely amazing views of Lake Dillon on the drive. You won't have these same views at the campground, but you will have something nice—the feeling of isolation. Sure, there will be campers near you, but you should feel like you are away from the crowds of people in the surrounding towns way up here.
If you want the best spot in Lowry, we suggest site 24. It's the most separated from all the other campers. Let's just say, there's lots and lots of room to roam in this campsite. Several other campers mentioned how nice our site was during our stay, so we're confident we picked the right one.
Even though it doesn't have water and sewer, it does have electricity, a fire pit, a grill, and a picnic table. That's usually good enough for us since we always bring water with us when camping. As for the sewer, since Lowry Campground is located in a national forest, you'll simply need to drive a few miles down the hill to dump at the Upper Blue Sanitation District building. It's really no big deal.
Another thing we really liked about this campground was the shorter pines at each campsite. Most people might feel as though they want the trees for shade at their campsite, but we usually use our awning or sit on the opposite side of our Jayco depending on the time of day. Short trees mean better stargazing and astrophotography for us, so we'll gladly trade some shade for more stars. This is a decent place to enjoy looking at celestial objects at a Bortle 4 classified dark sky location.
Lowry Campground is a nice place to RV if you are looking for an inexpensive place to camp near it all.
Known as the BreckConnect Gondola, this mild "thrill ride" is probably the best free ride in the area. (At least it was a thrill ride for our family of 4, who are somewhat afraid of heights.) Used primarily as a form of transportation from the town of Breckenridge at the base of the mountain to the ski resorts, the Breckenridge Gondola is a nice 13-minute ride.
On the gondola, you'll pass by a bunch of busy resort condos and hotel rooms, which should make you feel happy about your RV ownership and the quiet location you'll return to when you are done exploring the top of the mountain. You should also notice a green area on the way up: the picturesque Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve. After the gondola makes a couple of quick stops, you will finally arrive at Peak 8.
There's a ton to do on Peak 8 like mini golf, luging, panning for gold and other fun things. But since this article is being written from a budget perspective, you don't have to do any of it, so enjoy the free ride back down the mountain. It's perfect for kids of all ages and won't cost a dime.
Visit the Breckenridge Troll
As the kids like to say, I'm not going to "troll you" with this next selection. It's "legit.” When visiting Breckenridge, definitely add a visit to see Isak Heartstone. Created as part of the annual Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) back in 2017, this wooden art piece is an inspiring representation of what can be made of recycled materials. The Breckenridge Troll was created by the Danish artist Thomas Danbo, who has other giant wooden trolls all over the world.
To get to Isak Heartstone, don't just use Google Maps to search for the Breckenridge Troll. At the time of this writing, it doesn't work. So, type in Isak Heartstone instead. You'll see the location and plenty of parking near the ice rink and railroad park.
Since we visited this giant statue during the peak summer tourist season, we were worried the parking lot would be full. Fortunately, it wasn't even at ¼ capacity. Once you get to the trailhead, you will have a choice to go right towards the Illinois Gulch Trail or to the left towards the Trollstigen Trail. Obviously, stay left and follow the signs to the troll. You can't miss them.
The hike is on a flat trail made for everyone, including families with strollers. Getting to the troll only takes about 5 minutes as you hike through a beautiful pine forest.
Once you arrive, you'll notice this mammoth wooden statue that is 15 feet tall, just sitting on the ground holding onto a tree. It's really a site to see! Our kids pointed out that he has toenails that are painted green rocks, so hopefully, he isn't getting some infection from sitting in the dirt for so long.
After you are done spending time with Isak and taking pictures, you can either continue the walking loop back to the parking lot or return the way you came. If you are feeling up to it, try out the other trails in the area at the trailhead. This is a nice area for some easy hikes.
Speaking of hiking, it's time for some amazing ones.
Hike to Gray's Lake
Located in the White River National Forest, Gray's Lake is one of the most amazing hikes in the entire area! If you know us, you know we love uncrowded alpine lake hikes. This one fits the bill. It is the least crowded hike we have ever been on, and that is saying a lot. There were literally no people on the way up to the lake, and also while we were there, we only saw four people back at the trailhead getting ready to head up.
What makes Gray's Lake one of our favorite hikes? It is absolutely stunning! If you have ever been to another lake in Colorado called Ice Lake in the San Juan Mountains, you'll notice Gray's Lake has a very similar light blue color. The big difference is that this lake is small with nobody around. Along the trail, it is loaded with windflowers. There were so many flowers. I would even say this trail even rivals some in Glacier National Park. The lake was so peaceful. We sat at it for well over an hour and had it all to ourselves. We would have stayed much longer if it wasn't for the potential storms rolling in over Ruby Mountain right behind the lake. Safety first!
As for the technical details, we hiked a little more than 2 miles to Gray's Lake in the morning and arrived after moving at a very leisurely pace. It's pretty much all uphill on the Upper Peru Creek Trail and then the connecting Horseshoe Basin Trail to the lake for an elevation gain of about 1,200 or so feet. So, take breaks along the way depending on your fitness level. Also, the dirt road is a bit rough driving in for a few miles, so we recommend a vehicle with 4WD.
If you are willing to drive about 20 minutes from Lowry Campground to the town of Montezuma and then a few miles down a dirt road, you will be thrilled with what you see. Absolutely put Gray's Lake on your list.
Explore the Mohawk Lakes
Yes, we are hikers through and through. So we had to include a second hike on this list. When we RV, it's mainly to both hike and stargaze. Since Breckenridge has loads of beautiful hiking trails, we couldn't go without including the beautiful Mohawk Lakes.
Located about 40 minutes from Lowry Campground and just south of the town of Blue River, you'll find the trailhead to the Mohawk Lakes in the White River National Forest. If you don't hike regularly, this might be more challenging, so keep that in mind when thinking about doing this little adventure. The overall mileage to see Mayflower Lake, Lower Mohawk Lake, Mohawk Lake, Upper Mohawk Lake, and all other lakes beyond is a little over 8 ½ miles. Trust us, it's worth it to go as far on this trail as you can. The lakes get progressively more beautiful the further up you venture.
On this out-and-back hike, the first lake is Mayflower, which is nice, but we strongly recommend you keep going. Lower Mohawk Lake is even better looking, but the real magic begins when you reach the basin containing all the other lakes. They are surrounded by several 13ers peaks which add to the beauty of the lakes.
There is also a lot of history to be discovered on this hike. As you make your way up the trail, you'll see plenty of evidence of the mining past in this part of Colorado. Abandoned mines and metallic equipment can be found just off the side of the trail. Soak it all in as you enjoy the hike, and think back to all the hard work that was done through here as you work hard gaining over 2,100 feet of elevation to see all the lakes.
It's a great hike for both the history buffs in your family who also want a workout. We really enjoyed it.
Enjoying Breckenridge doesn't have to be an expensive vacation. There are plenty of inexpensive things to do in the area, especially if you are RV’ing. We hope you’ve enjoyed these 5 things to do in Breckinridge, Colorado, on a budget.