advertisement

Skiing & Other Winter Sports

Crested Butte may be Colorado's best-kept secret. Situated at the intersection of two overlapping winter storm tracks, it's guaranteed to have outstanding snow. Offering abundant opportunities for beginners and intermediate skiers, Crested Butte also has what many experts consider the most challenging runs in the Rockies.

The resort has 1,167 acres of skiable terrain. Altogether, trails are rated 23% beginner, 57% intermediate, and 20% advanced. The vertical drop is 3,062 feet from a summit of 12,162 feet. There are 121 trails served by 16 lifts (four high-speed quads, two fixed-grip quads, two triples, three doubles, three surface lifts, and two Magic Carpet rolling conveyors). Average annual snowfall is 240 inches, and there's snow making on trails served by all but two of the resort's lifts. The resort also has an easily accessible snowboard terrain park and superpipe, and offers snowboarding lessons.

Crested Butte offers both a ski and snowboard program (plus year-round recreation) for visitors with disabilities, with specially trained and certified instructors, at the Adaptive Sports Center, located at the base of the ski area in the Treasury Center Building. The resort's Kid's Ski & Snowboard World provides lessons, day care, and nursery services. (Don't forget to keep an eye out for Bubba and Betty Bear, the beloved mascots of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, who will gladly stop for a warm, fuzzy hug and a picture.) Private and group lessons are available in half- or all-day packages. The resort offers rentals of skis, snowboards, helmets, snowshoes, ski boards, and telemark equipment, in single and multiday prices, with overnight storage included. A full-service repair shop is available also. All children 12 and under who participate in lessons are required to wear a helmet (included in the lesson price and available at the rental shop). Equipment rental is also available at several other shops in the base area and around town.

For more information, contact Crested Butte Mountain Resort, 12 Snowmass Rd. (P.O. Box 5700), Mt. Crested Butte, CO 81225 (tel. 800/810-7669 or 970/349-2222, 888/442-8883 or 970/349-2323 for snow reports; www.skicb.com). Full-day regular-season lift tickets are $82 for adults, $47 for seniors 65 and older, $74 for youths 13 to 17, and $41 for children 7 to 12. Early-season lift tickets are less; kids under 7 are free all season long. The resort is usually open from mid-November to early April daily from 9am to 4pm.

Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Sledding & Ice Skating -- The Crested Butte Nordic Center, based at Big Mine Park, Second Street and Whiterock Avenue in downtown Crested Butte ([tel] 970/349-1707; www.cbnordic.org), maintains about 55 miles of marked and groomed trails and organizes backcountry tours. A day pass costs about $18, $10 for children and seniors; lessons and rentals are available. The center also maintains several backcountry huts available for overnight rentals.

Warm-Weather Sports & Outdoor Activities

This is rugged country, surrounded by Gunnison National Forest, three wilderness areas, and towering 12,000- to 14,000-foot peaks. For maps and tips on the many activities available, contact the Gunnison Ranger District office at 216 N. Colorado St. in Gunnison (tel. 970/641-0471; www.fs.fed.us/r2).

The lifts at Crested Butte Mountain Resort don't stop just because the snow's gone, but operate daily from late June through early September for hikers or those who simply want to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery without effort. Single trips cost $15 for adults, $8 for children 7 to 17 and seniors 65 and older; all-day passes cost $20 and $12, respectively. Kids 6 and younger ride free.

Golf -- The 18-hole course at the Club at Crested Butte, 2 miles south of Crested Butte off Colo. 135 ([tel] 970/349-8603; www.theclubatcrestedbutte.com), is one of Colorado’s best mountain courses. The fee for 18 holes, including the mandatory cart, is $95 to $149 in summer. In Gunnison, the Dos Rios Golf Club, 501 Camino Del Rio ([tel] 970/641-1482; www.dosriosgolf.net ), is a scenic course with green fees of $40 to $70 for 18 holes, cart included.

Hiking -- There are practically unlimited opportunities for hiking and backpacking in the Crested Butte area. Some of the best are in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, accessible from a trail head at Gothic, above Mt. Crested Butte, where you can hike to Aspen if properly motivated. Another good trail is located off Cement Creek Road: The Farris Creek Trail (aka the Caves Trail) takes hikers up to a great vantage point of some cavelike geological formations and a great view of the area's original and long-closed ski resort. Ask the chamber of commerce for other trail suggestions, or contact the Gunnison National Forest office .

Horseback Riding -- Guided rides are offered year-round by Fantasy Ranch Horseback Adventures in Mt. Crested Butte ([tel] 970/349-5425; www.fantasyranchoutfitters.com). Trips go into three different mountain wilderness areas, at elevations from 7,000 feet to 12,700 feet, including the incredibly beautiful Maroon Bells. Rides run $65 to $135. In Almont, 17 miles south of town, you'll find Harmel's Ranch Resort([tel] 800/235-3402or 970/641-1740; www.harmels.com), which offers hayrides for $15 per person, hour-long horseback rides for $40, and half-day rides for $80. They also offer cabins, lodge rooms, riverside dining, and fishing.

Mountain Biking -- One of the towns that lays claim to the sport’s invention, Crested Butte has established a firm reputation as the place to mountain bike in Colorado. From single-track trails to jeep roads, there’s something here to please every ability level. Among local shops where you can get trail information, maps, and mountain-bike rentals (from about $35 per day), I recommend Big Al's Bicycle Heaven, 207 Elk Ave. ([tel] 970/349-0515; www.bigalsbicycleheaven.com),in Crested Butte. At Crested Butte Mountain Resort ([tel] 800/810-7669; www.skicb.com), you will find lift-served mountain biking at Evolution Bike Park, with more than 25 trails for every skill level and a rental shop; riders need a lift ticket (see p. ###). Guided mountain-bike tours are offered by Crested Butte Mountain Guides, 416 Sopris Ave. ([tel] 970/349-5430; www.crestedbutteguides.com), which charges $200 for two riders for a half-day guided ride, not including bike rental.

 

Popular choices include the Strand Hill route, which runs for 18 miles and is considered upper intermediate. Better for lower intermediates is the Lower Loop (18 miles), accessiblefrom Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Advanced mountain bikers will love Trail No. 401, one of the best trails in the area, a 26-mile round trip  that climbs to 11,500 feet through some incredible mountain scenery.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.