Breckenridge Peak 6
Credit: Vail Resorts

Breckenridge Ski Resort may not have the steep-and-deep reputation of Copper, Jackson, or Alta, but beyond the crowded pizza buffets is a new jumble of open bowls, chutes, and hike-to territory. Peak 6, the largest ski area expansion in North America during the last decades, now represents roughly a quarter of Breck and a considerable portion of the mountain's more technical terrain. Most of the 543 acres are serviced by lifts, but a slice of the new zone is only accessible to those willing to hike. The trudge is worth it.

The centerpiece of the expansion is three new bowls – Six Senses, Serenity, and Beyond – that plunge down from the ridgeline at 12,500 feet. Surrounding those powder zones, the resort map shows 21 trails funneling skiers back to the safety of the rest of the mountain, but, in reality, this is more of an alpine ecosystem than an annex to the rest of Breck. Skiers careen through narrow gulches, around rocky outcroppings, and across acres of choose-your-own-adventure open space. The only defined routes down from the top of the Kensho SuperChair, which rises impossibly through the notoriously stiff Breckenridge winds, are rare, high-alpine blues.

Getting back to the main mountain – and the warming huts – is easy: Just get a head of steam on Bliss Trail and shoot down Delirium, a hidden pathway that seems to hog all the powder on the mountain. The blue-to-blue combo is fast as hell, making it the perfect way to escape the Peak 6 wilds when a wind whips up or you get a bit peckish.

More information: Two miles north of the resort is Breckenridge Distillery, home to the 2012 gold medal winner at the International Whiskey Competition for the Best Bourbon Whiskey. Tours and a complimentary tasting are offered from 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Sunday. There is also a tasting room downtown just off Main Street.