Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte is one of those perfect all-around resorts. Terrain serves every level of skier well, facilities are top-notch and the historic mining town offers plenty of diversions.
Funky, laid-back and friendly are oft-heard descriptions of the Crested Butte experience. When you walk into any restaurant or bar in town, it doesn’t matter if you’re a janitor or a Fortune 500 CEO, you’ll be treated with the same warmth and respect—as long as you leave your “big-city” attitude outside. Award-winning wine bars mingle with cook-your-own hot dog stands. Five-star lodging overlooks local hangout shacks in the woods. The apres-ski scene is rich at the resort’s base, especially in spring, when lounging is best on the numerous large, sunny decks. Just down the road, the National Historic District of the town of Crested Butte bursts with charm and authentic Wild West.
And this is what sets Crested Butte apart from other resorts. You can’t create this kind of experience from nothing. It’s built on a town’s history and on its people.
Extreme terrain is Crested Butte’s signature and for good reason. With an expanse of more than 500 acres of double-blacks, it’s a lift-served backcountry world. In fact, locals who have skied and snowboarded here for years claim to not have had enough time to fully explore the possible lines. That’s not hard to believe. Some traverses require a lot of work and take you across exposed steeps that need at least a 5-foot base and new snow on top to boot. Since there are so many excellent choices for dropping in, it’s easy to give up and leave the untouched bounty beyond for more patient—and perhaps intrepid—souls.
Beginners and intermediates can find plenty of fun as well. The mountain is laid out in such a way as to keep beginner and intermediate skiers and riders safely on easier runs. Recent development has, in fact, made us wish we were beginners all over again. Not only is the beginner terrain gentle and extensive, it has its own midmountain cabin with in-your-face views of the main mountain, plus food service and outdoor seating. Taking a break gives not only a physical rest, it also affords peace of mind. From this same mid-mountain cabin, intermediates can access blue runs off the backside that are sure to bring grins, whether the preference might be groomers, rollicking wood shots or trails left au natural.
The resort is host to some of the most entertaining competitions in the West, including the Annual U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships, the U.S. Freeskiing Telemark Championships and the Annual Slush Huck. Add the locals’ penchant for celebrating anything related to snow, skiing and the great outdoors, and you’ve got a big party on your hands.
First three photos courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort; top and third photos by Tom Stillo for CBMR.