Crested Butte, CO
Crested Butte has stolen a lot of hearts and I can see why.
- More about your oliver guide: Cynthia Pillsbury
- Trip type: Adult, Mountains
- Activity level: high
- Ideal length of trip: A few days to a week!
to & from
Crested Butte is not an easy place to get to…. it’s isolated, yet that makes it all the more charming.
We drove from our home in Edwards, which is about a 3 ½ hour drive. Most people fly into Denver and either drive the four hours or connect through Gunnison, which is only a ½ hour away from Crested Butte. Gunnison is a small airport so rare to find a direct flight from most major cities– except Denver, Dallas and Houston (yes, Texans love Crested Butte).
It’s well worth the effort!
Where to Stay
Like other mountain towns, (Jackson Hole, Sun Valley) Crested Butte town is not directly adjacent to the mountain, however it’s only a 5 minute drive. The town is full of charm, delicious restaurants, cute shops, whereas the mountain base could use some love. I would highly recommend staying in town vs. the base.
We stayed at the Scarp Ridge Lodge, which is part of the Eleven Properties. It is a small boutique property, right in the heart of Crested Butte. It’s a splurge, but for a few days it’s an amazing, all-inclusive experience.
Another place to stay that will be less stressful on the wallet is Elk Mountain Lodge.
Where to Eat and Drink
Fare in Crested Butte is far more sophisticated (and pricy) than I ever imagined.
Soupçon –French American fare that stands out for the fresh and innovative flavors. The restaurant is in a small log cabin on a alley way that is as charming as the food is delicious!
Elk Avenue Prime- Just what you expect from a Colorado game restaurant…. Elk tenderloin, Waygu beef, Colorado Trout, Crab deviled eggs… the food is rich and very fresh.
On Mountain make sure to have lunch (or a sleigh ride up for dinner) at Uley’s Cabin. The fire greets you on a cold day/night and you can look out the windows at the expansive views of the mountains.
Another beloved spot by locals and regular visitors alike is Ryce Asian Bisto
Everyone RAVES about Secret Stash Pizza, right on Elk Avenue.
What to Do
Ski, Ski and ski some more… Crested Butte mountain is not for the faint of heart. It has some very beginner runs, and enough intermediate runs to keep you entertained for a day or so, but the mountain is known for it’s STEEP (did I say STEEP?) terrain. It can be intimidating, but it’s more approachable once you figure out the mountain.
To really treat yourself spend a day with Irwin Guides, a cat-skiing outfit that operates in a valley just across form the Crested Butte resort. Interestingly, the mountains where Irwin Guides operates receives A LOT more snow than the resort because of how it is positioned. They spoil you with terrific guides, snacks galore on the cat (in between powder upon powder runs) and serve you a delicious lunch in their on-piste “cabin”.
If you love POWDER, treat yourself!
Irwin Guides operates year-round so if you come to Crested Butte in the summer, they can take you fishing, hiking etc.
If you are there in the summer we highly recommend doing the Aspen – Crested Butte hike. The hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Colorado. The trail can be busy on the weekends, so if possible try to do it mid-week. Wild flowers are at their peak early August. The hike is (much) harder from Aspen TO Crested Butte, about 8 miles of incline to the pass, and about 3.5 miles down to Crested Butte.
There are some logistics involved. Plan ahead and arrange a pick up at the Crested Butte West Maroon Bells trail head from Dolly’s
In Aspen hop on the Maroon Bells (free) bus from the Aspen Highlands station (parking available) but make sure to find out if you need a reservation.
Most people only do one way, so you can also pay the service to drive your car to your final destination.
After you have hiked or skied your heart out… Check out Rooted Apothecary on Elk Ave in downtown Crested Butte. The local company makes incredible spritz, essential oils, masks and more and offers treatments! Next trip I am making time for a Botanical Massage and Herbal Consults!
I loved the shop, Favor the Kind, really cool household items, apparel and gifts. The shop is as good as the name!
We didn’t time our stay to be there during a music show, but the locals love the Public House for the food and live music venue. Also, word has it that they have cool (and affordable) rooms on the top floor.
What to Pack
Crested Butte is casual with a hint of western. Anything goes.