Looking for true Colorado with a bit of the tough stuff thrown in? Then Crested Butte is your place.
This resort boasts some of the most challenging terrain in the US as well as one of the nicest western towns. Don’t worry if you are a beginner…there are some great places on the mountain for you to explore.
The ski school is fantastic, making this a great destination to learn advanced skills or take up snowboarding. It’s a great spot for people who are seeking something a bit different and who aren’t shy about tackling (or being tackled by) harder terrain.
Eating and drinking in Crested Butte are taken as seriously as the skiing!
There are a ton of great restaurants in town and the bars range from a true cowboy watering hole to a young, hip saloon. You can meander up the main street after a terrific meal and find a spot that seems to suit.
Crested Butte also has a great collection of shops that are unique to the area featuring jewelry, pottery, and crafts made by local artists.
Crested Butte Resort Profile
If it’s a traditional attractive down home western style resort rather than a purpose built ski resort that does it for you then Crested Butte is a potential favorite.
The main street of the old town, Elk Street still has rows of restored 19th century wooden fronted shops.
Crested Butte town itself is about three miles from the Butte mountain, which stands alone.
Summit – 12,162 feet (3,707 meters)
Base – 9,375 feet ( 2,856 meters)
Lowest Lift – 9,100 feet (2,774 meter)
Lift Served – 2,775 vertical feet (846 meters)
Overall – 3,062 vertical feet (933 meters) – Requires a short hike to Peak Terrain
1,547 acres (626 hectares)
297 acres (120 hectares)
20,020 people per hour
2.6 miles (4.2 km) Peak to Treasury
Our Review of Crested Butte Ski Resort and Mountains
There is a popular misconception that, because Crested Butte has some of the toughest terrain anywhere, it only suits expert skiers. Some reviewers have been a little more accurate, claiming it’s a choice of beginner or expert terrain with nothing in between. The reality is that Crested Butte has a very well designed mix of terrain for all standards, including miles of intermediate level piste and lots of steep marked pistes for advanced and expert skiers, include some spectacular bumps runs.
Of course the 550 acres of ‘back country style’ Extreme Limits terrain is a unique asset, and one of the resort’s few short lift lines can develop as the best skiers queue patiently to ride the surface tow up to the access point. The resort particularly decided to use this type of lift to prevent overcrowding and accidental access of Extreme Limits, and to dissuade skiers not confident enough to ride the lift in a country where chairs are the norm.
More advanced intermediates can tackle the easiest sections of the Extreme Limits terrain, although they’re best to go in with someone who knows it in order to make sure they stick to sections within their ability level. Otherwise there are miles of varied trail terrain to suit the most avid piste basher.
Skiers of all standards above intermediate may also consider taking a snowcat over to Irwin Lodge, the legendary powder skiing centre which is located 12 miles from Crested Butte and has North America’s, and probably the world’s, largest powder cat fleet. Here skiers have more than 2400 acres and over 700 vertical metres (2000 feet) of vertical off-piste powder terrain to delight in.
Back on the pistes of Crested Butte beginners have the big area above the resort base to enjoy – a vast terrain of wide, tree-lined slopes with gentle gradients. The Keystone trail is especially well suited to them.
The ski school offers a ‘QuickStart’ course for beginners and numerous other tuition programs for existing skiers, women’s ski adventures (for all ability levels), race camps, extreme skiing clinics and ‘adventures on the edge’ – such as ski mountaineering .
Among its many claims to fame is that Crested Butte is a pioneer of free skiing, generally offered for the month between the lifts opening (late November) and Christmas, and in the few weeks during April, after the Easter holidays and before the lifts close.
Crested Butte is something of a mecca for Cross country skiing. There are 30km of groomed trails and a further 160km (100 miles) or more of back country routes in the Elk Mountains and Gunnison National Forest.
Crested Butte town itself is about three miles from the Butte mountain, which stands alone. At the base stations there are various accommodation options – mostly modern condominiums and a couple of upmarket full service hotels – the Marriot and the Sheraton Resort.
The Mt. Crested Butte accommodations are not all ski in and out, but the Marriott is and the Sheraton is also self contained with an indoor and outdoor pool, fitness centre, restaurants, bar, deli and retail shops. Otherwise The Gateway offers good value one, two and three bed condos within a couple of minutes walk from the Silver Queen lift.
The area is reputedly blessed with more good affordable restaurants than any other snowsports resort in the West. Certainly there is everything from economic group and family dining to expensive gourmet dining.
Nightlife still pretty much means a choice of bars, but there are plenty. For apres ski per se it is Rafters in the Gothic building which starts off early near the bottom of the lifts, but thereafter there is usually plenty going on later in town.
Reporters recommend Kochevar’s – a wild west saloon style bar – the Wooden Nickel and the also the Idle Spur, a microbrewery with a good choice of eats also.