It’s not everyday you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. Many people will go their whole lives and never be “in the middle of nowhere.” Sure, maybe you got off the subway three blocks further than you intended. Or perhaps on that long road trip through Kansas – but not many people can say they’ve skied in the middle of nowhere. But that’s the best part about Crested Butte– that sense of old time Colorado mixed with the feeling that even today there is nothing else around. Take I-70 for example, a solid 3 hours from here. Many ski resorts lay claim to close proximity to the interstate, making it easier to access from metropolitan areas like Denver and Colorado Springs. But the drive into Crested Butte, despite it being in the middle of the night, was beautiful and isolated. A large half moon displaying its bright lunar light across swaths of steep, snow covered Rocky Mountains. The wildlife spotting became wildlife evasive driving as we neared the Crested Butte area, reminding us of the beauty and wildness of Colorado. But once in Crested Butte, the soft lights of the nearby historic buildings and modern lodging accommodations, welcomed us to the little town and ski area where we made a quick night of resting and gearing up for a day on the slopes.
The next day was up early. Despite a poor showing of the winter storm that was supposed to have come through the area, we had a bluebird day, and received a mountain tour with a representative from Crested Butte named Seth. And it was a good thing too. The mountain, though not huge, has a variety of terrain and is most famous for its steeps and back bowls. Be sure to get your T-bar practice in before you head to Crested Butte as two of their upper lifts are T-bars. But if you’re not into the T-bar and steep scenes, you’ll enjoy the lower half of the mountain with great groomers, wonderful 365 degree views, and excellent on mountain dining. Take in the surrounding peaks with an afternoon cocktail at Paradise or a high-end dinner and sleigh ride to Uley’s Cabin at mid mountain. Named for a local moonshiner, Uley’s Cabin is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner that harkens back to the Wild West days. Après at the base area with a soak in the hot tub before heading into the town of Crested Butte about two miles down the road. Free shuttle buses run frequently between the two areas so there’s no excuse to drive. Enjoy a walk down Elk Avenue and see the historic buildings of Crested Butte. Drop into to the local Ginger Café, and try their salmon spring rolls and a ginger martini. Enjoy a twist on pizza at the Secret Stash and return back down Elk Avenue with a stopover at the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin for an after dinner drink and desert. Catch the last bus back up to Mount Crested Butte just before midnight.
Unfortunately, we only had two days to explore the area, but I can see what locals mean when they say you have to stay a whole season to really get to know CB. Only a stone’s throw from the famous ski area of Aspen or the whitewater haven of Buena Vista, Crested Butte in the winter becomes extremely isolated which is exactly what makes it great. Dubbed the “last great Colorado ski town,” Crested Butte is cut off from its larger neighbors to the north and east by winter closures over Cottonwood and Kebler Passes. The only way in and out is through Gunnison – Montrose to the West and Monarch Pass to the east. But don’t let that deter you from visiting Crested Butte because once you’re there, you might just have to stay a while.
Crested Butte Destination Expert