Crested Butte, located in Colorado's south western Rocky Mountains, offers up a
real cowboy town and some kick butt terrain - in fact CB has hosted the
annual Extreme Skiing World Championships for 22 years, but there is also
lots of cruisers and modern lifts for families at the Butte too.
Crested Butte has a very unique feel, one fourth cool Colorado mining town, one
fourth pleasant groomed terrain on soft western snow, one fourth kick your butt ski
terrain, and one fourth on mountain real estate development. You might think
when you arrive at the slopeside village - un-inspired base, but awesome face.
The Butte looms high above the resort at 12,162' - like the Matterhorn or
Big Sky’s Lone
Peak. Modern lifts shoot off in multiple direction from the Mount Crested Butte Village.
CB, local speak for Crested Butte, is home to a clan of serious skiers attracted
by the 542-acres of inbounds double black diamond extreme terrain off the
Peak's chutes called Banana and Peel, in Teocalli Bowl, and The North Face, some
of which require a 10 minutes hike.
We arrived on a powder day, and lined up for first chair at the Silver Queen
Express, the signature base quad, and got freshies on Forest Queen followed by a
run down Paradise Bowl before East River Express opened and we pounced on that
pow too, along with the throng of crusty Crested Butte’rs.
The Red Lady Lift from the base brings you to Painter Boy and plenty of great
groomed family ski terrain, then the Prospect and Gold Link lifts provide more
intermediate terrain and a real relaxed pace on this lower sunny side of the
Crested Butte is a challenging mountain to describe, much to explore and
something for everyone from
well-pitched runs off Silver Queen and pleasant blues off the Paradise Express lift,
ego pleasers in Prospect, to extreme steeps accessed by upper mountain t-bars
and hikes. Fun glades pop off the sides of trails so keep your eye out for those
Aspen stashes, like Bakery Trees.
Be sure to ski in to lunch at Uley’s Cabin – one of the best on mountain meals
in North America. This cozy slope side cabin on Crested Butte’s Twister Trail
is where Uley once made his moonshine before the sheriff arrested him and made
him his personal prison chef – so legend goes. Uley’s is rustic elegance,
tablecloths and a tantalizing menu define this fine ski dining spot. Feast
on charcuterie and gourmet cheese plates, elk and native cuisine before hitting
the slopes or skiing back to the base for a spa treatment - completely satiated. On a blue bird Colorado ski day,
outside stool at the unique Ice Bar, sip a cool cocktail or a local beer at
this ice carved bar while enjoying the view of the slopes above and skiers
cruising by. Uley’s is also open for dinner – reserve your sleigh ride dinner
some starry night for a raised culinary experience.
The best place to stay at Crested Butte is
The Elevation Hotel and Spa – a very
chic hotel of 250 rooms with a spa, slope view dining in the swank 9380'
(signifying the hotel’s elevation) and prime location – twenty ski boot steps to
the Silver Queen quad. The Elevation rooms are splendid and spacious, call it
Rocky Mountain sophistication, all with views on par, if the exterior of the big
building lacks elegance. Ski lockers are super convenient on the lobby and ski slope
level, the indoor pool and Eleve salon and spa are down a flight.
Crested Butte has added lots of fun activities for families as alpine
alternatives, including tubing, terrain parks and an AirBar jump, outdoor
enclosed Flying Gopher mini-golf, bungee trampolines, rock climbing, and zip
lining. Crested Butte Snowcat Driving is probably the most unique activity -
imagine learning to drive a grooming machine?! Cool!
Mount Crested Butte, the compact ski village above the town where The Elevation,
The Lodge at Mountaineer Square and Grand Lodge are located, offers a skiers
cafes, shopping and dining to keep you amused after the lifts close. Djangos serves
contemporary Colorado tapas style cuisine (antelope for example) in a very
atmosphere – more Miami than alpine mountain. Avalanche Bar and Butte 66 attract
locals and are lively for affordable fare and fun après. Kids will love the
Sweet Spot – an old school candy store with penny candy and games, while
parents pull up a barstool at the Victorian saloon and full bar –all in the same
For more charm and Colorado cowboy feel, take an early evening trip to town, an
historic 1888 miners' town. Now downtown Crested Butte is a colorful Colorado mining settlement turned upscale. Crested
Butte bills itself as Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town, and as proof it is loaded
with lively bars, restaurants and cool Western themed shops (plus a bunch of orthopedic clinics
– which may speak to the sick terrain here) all sporting funky frontier style
architecture. CB is a great walk around town, for skiers and non skiers alike.
Crested Butte is just over a four hour
drive from Denver, or you can fly into nearby Gunnison, or Montrose between
Crested Butte and Telluride. Crested Butte does not get the big bustling lift lines
that other Colorado Front Range and I-70 ski resorts do. You do get a taste of
the genuine local vibe once
you arrive. Crested Butte is operated by The Mueller family of
Resort in Vermont - they wrote the book on ski hospitality.