Summit County includes the towns of Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Dillon, Frisco, Keystone and Silverthorne. It also includes lesser known Blue River, Heeney and Montezuma. For real estate listings in the county Blue River falls under Breckenridge, Heeney is in Silverthorne and Montezuma in Keystone. Many unincorporated areas are also labeled under the town nearest them. If you are searching for properties, be aware that the indicated town does not mean the property is within town limits.
Public Lands in Summit County
About 80% of the land in Summit County is federal public lands. That really limits the buildable areas and has the opposite affect on recreational opportunities. The county is in the high rockies located just west of the Continental Divide. The lowest point of elevation is at Green Mountain Reservoir in the northern end of the county at 7,947 feet. The highest point is on top of the Continental Divide where Gray’s Peak tops out at 14,270 feet.
The Mountains of Summit County
Gray’s Peak is a 14er. Meaning the peak of the mountain is over 14,000 feet high. There are three 14ers in Summit County. Quandary Mountain is the only 14er completely in Summit County. It’s elevation is 14,265 feet. The third 14er is Torrey’s Peak. It is connected to Gray’s Peak and also sits on the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide is the county line so half of Gray’s and Torrey’s are actually in the neighboring, Clear Creek, county.
Even though there are only three 14ers in the county, there are still a lot of high mountain peaks you can summit. The Gore Range is a gorgeous mountain range and includes Buffalo Mountain. The Ten Mile Range is the mountain range that run from Peak One above the town of Frisco to Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 that make up the Breckenridge Ski Area.
Lake Dillon is a reservoir holding Denver’s drinking water. Frisco and Dillon have marinas and are lakeside. Silverthorne is just downstream from the lake. Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain are just up the road. The reservoir was built in the 1960s. Before they could build it, the town of Dillon had to move out of the valley. Some buildings, like the Old Dillon Inn (ODI) and The Mint were moved to higher ground. You can still grill a steak at The Mint today. However, most of the town remained and, from what I am told, still sits at the bottom of the reservoir. The Upper Blue River from Breckenridge, the Snake River from Keystone and Ten Mile Creek from Frisco all flow into Lake Dillon. The Lower Blue River that runs through Silverthorne flows out of the lake.
The Eisenhower Tunnel
The Eisenhower Tunnel made access to Summit County and the rest of the western slope much easier. It is the highest vehicular tunnel in the world. It took several years to complete construction of the 1.693 mile long tunnel. Construction for the Eisenhower bore, which is currently the westbound lanes, took five years. It was completed in 1973. The Johnson bore was complete in 1979.
Summit County’s high mountain peaks get a lot of snow. Most resorts tout 300-400″ of snowfall per season. That’s more than 25 feet. It can snow any time of year. Most often our snowfall starts in October and continues through April. Temperatures can fall below zero but when they do, it is generally a cold snap that is short lived. Most often we have temperatures in the 20s and 30s. January is the coldest month. Humidity is very low and we have a lot of sunny days in the winter. That makes it feel warmer than the thermometer says.
Summertime temperatures are generally in the 70s. It’s rare to see temperatures into the 80s. The low humidity keeps it comfortable. Our summer rain is usually moderate showers. We rarely see big downpours. We can get a rainy day here and there but most often we see nice mornings that give way to afternoon showers. They clear out and we have cool evenings. The temperatures drop overnight making for great sleeping weather with the window open a bit. Air conditioning is non-existent here, except in commercial establishments.
Discover why we love Summit County