Often referred to as “Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town”, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (an Epic Pass destination) is revered as an extreme mountain, but the resort has plenty of family-friendly runs.
The terrain at Crested Butte is naturally divided so that most of the beginner runs do not overlap with the more challenging runs. This natural division encourages skiers and snowboarders to spread out across the wide swath of the resort, which usually makes the lift lines fairly short and often makes you feel like you have the whole mountain to yourself.
If lessons are in order, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from ranging from private or group lessons for adults or kids. You can also sign up to ski in intermediate or advanced ski clinics or private lessons with World Champion skier Wendy Fisher. Ski and snowboard rental equipment is available at the Crested Butte Rental and Demo Center. Crested Butte Mountain Resort also partners with RentSkis.com to make renting gear as convenient as possible.
Kids six and under ski and snowboard free. Everyone else who purchases their lift tickets at least seven days in advance will get the best savings. Crested Butte has a full service travel agency that can help you save money by booking your reservations for lodging, rentals and lessons together.
Looking for some tasty bites? Stop by Butte 66 at the base area and enjoy a milkshake and a burger on the welcoming deck. The all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Woodstone Grille in the Grand Lodge is a great way to fuel up for a day of skiing or snowboarding. In the mood for a burrito? Jefe’s is a good grab-and-go spot.
The best time to go to Crested Butte Mountain Resort is toward the end of February through mid-March. This is the time when there’s ample snow, fewer people and the best chance of bluebird days. If you want to avoid the crowds and higher lift ticket prices, don’t plan a trip between Christmas and New Year’s Day, or during the Martin Luther King, Jr. or President’s Day holiday weekends.
Skiing from the summit to the base will earn you 2,787 vertical feet. Crested Butte Mountain Resort has 1,547 acres of skiable terrain, 542 acres of which is considered advanced. There are 121 trails, with 26 percent considered beginner-level, 57 percent intermediate, 14 percent advanced and 3 percent expert-only. With over half the mountain geared to intermediate and beginner skiers and a centrally located base area, Crested Butte is a great place for families and groups with all ability levels. It’s a dream for the more adventurous skiers and snowboarders with some of the best lift-served extreme terrain in the U.S.
Here are the best Crested Butte Mountain Resort trails for each skill level, according to Zachary Pickett, the resort’s senior communications specialist.
“Beginner skiers and riders enjoy the wide, consistent runs off of the Red Lady Express Lift. Featuring mellow grades, open trails and the ability to explore, these runs are an excellent stepping stone for those who are new to the sport.”
“While for intermediate skiers and riders, the Paradise Express Lift offers countless options of long, intermediate cruisers and mellow bump runs. Located within the middle of the resort, guests can easily access many different runs from the Paradise Lift. For intermediates looking to take the next step, head over to the East River Express Lift and the impeccably spaced trees of Gully Glades. East River is a popular spot due to its generally warmer temperatures and excellent snow conditions.”
“For a consistent challenge, the Silver Queen Express Lift and the Extreme Limits terrain is the perfect area to explore. Long, steep runs will exhaust your legs as you lap the front-side terrain underneath the Silver Queen Lift. The High Lift and North Face Lifts will elevate you to the top of the most challenging runs on the mountain.”
There’s no shortage of places to stay on and around the mountain. Crested Butte Mountain Resort has a wide array of on-site properties from hotel rooms to luxury ski-in/ski-out condos, to villas and there are plenty of nearby options including budget-friendly chains and bed & breakfast inns. The Lodge at Mountaineer Square , Grand Lodge and The Plaza are the most popular accommodation options for skiers and snowboarders who want to stay close to the mountain.
If you ask, locals will almost always recommend a visit to Montanya for their fancy cocktails and inspired cuisine. Try the polenta Italiana or seared Ahi tuna bowl and treat yourself to a specialty rum cocktail or some homemade rum truffles for dessert. The Last Steep is a great spot for comfort foods and easy eats. Don’t miss the fried cauliflower “wings” – you’ll wonder why more restaurants don’t serve them. Secret Stash is the best spot for pizza while Elk Ave Prime is the place to go for steaks.
If you’re in need some hard core relaxation after skiing or snowboarding, try the local spas. You’ll find the 9380’ Elevation Hotel Spa and Wildflower Spa at the Grand Lodge offer everything you could want in an après-ski spa experience and a massage is the perfect way to unwind after a day on the slopes.
If you’re craving a good local après-ski beer, head to the Avalanche Bar & Grill located at the base area. They also serve specialty pizzas, nachos, and a chill vibe.
The closest airport to Crested Butte is the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport. It’s serviced by direct flights on United Airlines from Denver and Houston. Alpine Express is a service that provides door-to-door shuttle service from the Gunnison Airport to Crested Butte. There’s no need for a car once you get there because everything is in walking distance.
You can also drive from Denver, which takes a little over four hours, or from Colorado Springs, which takes just under four hours.