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7 Unforgettable Winter Activities for Houston Families

Houston families are dreaming of escaping to a winter wonderland! Crested Butte is a snow globe set at the end of the road in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. What is there to do for Houston families in Crested Butte during winter? When you bring your family to visit Crested Butte in winter you can experience the magic of playing in the snow, skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, enjoying the picturesque downtown and cozying up, hopefully by a fire, after a fun day. Crested Butte is about 30 miles north of Gunnison, Colorado, which also holds much winter fun. Read on to start planning a Colorado winter trip to Crested Butte. Create lifelong memories and enjoy a taste of winter in the mountains!

A view of buildings lining a downtown street for Houston families to see

1. Ski at Crested Butte Mountain Resort

There’s no skiing in Houston, but there is a run at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) called Houston and Houston families love to snap a selfie there! This green run is great for beginners to get some practice on. Advanced and expert skiers can also enjoy skiing at CBMR. Check out some of the best double-black ski runs at Crested Butte to start planning the runs you want to do. CBMR is known for extreme terrain like this. Looking for something more mellow? These intermediate ski runs and trails at Crested Butte are a great place to start. Crested Butte Mountain Resort is just a few miles north of the town of Crested Butte. CBMR has 1,547 skieable acres with terrain for skiers of all abilities. There are 121 trails to choose from. Brand new skiers and those looking to sharpen their skills can take a private or group lesson with the Crested Butte Ski and Ride School. The Peach Tree and Red Lady Lifts are great beginner lifts for the kiddos. There are also a few magic carpets around the base area.

2. Visit museums and art centers

Crested Butte Museums and The Center for the Arts Crested Butte

Looking for a bit of culture on your trip? Crested Butte has a children’s museum and a history museum that are open in the winter. The Trailhead Children’s Museum offers programming for kids of all ages and exhibits where kids can experiment with STEM, create crafts, play and more. The Crested Butte Museum has rotating and permanent exhibits about the history of the area. Learn about the history of skiing and mountain biking, what the town was like in the coal mining days, and view a model from the 1920s when the railroad was still running. The museum also offers talks and historic tours around town. The Center for the Arts Crested Butte hosts art classes, live music, films, music and art camps, and more! The Center also has a rotating gallery.

The Gunnison Arts Center and the Gunnison Pioneer Museum

The Gunnison Arts Center offers art classes for kids and adults, movement classes such as dance and martial arts, performances and more. The Gunnison Arts Center also has a monthly art walk to the downtown galleries the first Friday of every month. Thinking about a summer visit, too? Check out the Gunnison Pioneer Museum, which is open seasonally.

3. Ice skate in Gunnison and Crested Butte

Ice skating in Gunnison

Jorgensen Ice Rink is located in Gunnison right off Highway 50. The facility has an indoor and outdoor rink and an outdoor frozen pond. Public skating, skate lessons and drop-in hockey are available at the indoor and outdoor rinks. Rent skates on site or bring your own. Skate for free anytime on the frozen pond. The outdoor rink is also free when it’s open. It’s especially fun for Houston families looking for special winter time experiences.

Ice skating in Crested Butte

Big Mine Ice Arena is located in Crested Butte next to the Crested Butte Nordic Center. You can rent skates from the Nordic Center or bring your own. The ice in Big Mine Ice Arena uses no refrigeration- it is all natural.

Ice skating at Blue Mesa Reservoir

If you’re looking for a wilder experience- check out Blue Mesa Reservoir. Once it freezes over it is another popular ice skating spot. Skating at Blue Mesa immerses you in the beauty of the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Please ensure you have the proper skills, equipment and knowledge to stay safe if you plan to lake skate.

A wintery mountain scene that Houston families love to see

4. Sled & Tube in Crested Butte and Gunnison

Sledding in Gunnison

There are no lack of hills or mountains to sled down in the Gunnison Valley. Sledding is great winter fun for kids who are too little ski or anyone who likes the thrill of going downhill fast. The most popular sledding hill in Gunnison is known as the Green Monster. It’s a large hill that’s part of the practice field at Western Colorado University. Climb all the way up it for a thrilling ride down, or sled off a smaller slope on the edge of the field. Gunnison Nordic Club also grooms a cross-country skiing track at the practice field that is perfect for beginners and kids.

Sledding in Crested Butte

Crested Butte has a sledding hill heading north in-between town and Mt. Crested Butte. There is also a sledding hill behind the Crested Butte Nordic Center. Bring your own sleds or stop into local hardware stores to purchase some.

5. Check out downtown Crested Butte and downtown Gunnison

Downtown Crested Butte

Crested Butte’s hub is Elk Avenue. This is where most of the restaurants, shops, art galleries, coffeeshops and bars are. Souvenir shops, toy stores and places to get sweet treats also abound. You could easily spend an afternoon or even a day exploring them all. Many of the buildings on Elk Avenue are historic. Their colorful fronts and Victorian shapes are leftover from the days when Crested Butte was a mining town. These picturesque buildings are perfect for a family photo op. You can even get Crested Butte Mountain in the background of your photos. If you have older kids, catch some live music once evening hits.

Downtown Gunnison

Main Street is Gunnison’s downtown. Just head south on Highway 135 for about 35 miles to get there from Crested Butte. Downtown Gunnison is home to places to eat, shops, art galleries, the Gunnison Arts Center, coffeeshops, thrift stores and more. There is also a park downtown that features a mural of local flora and fauna and winter and summer activities. Scan the QR codes on the mural to learn more about the plants, animals and insects of Gunnison.

6. Dog sled in Gunnison National Forest

Dog sledding is a truly memorable experience that children, and adults, of all ages can participate in. Go on a half or full day guided tour. Most tours include refreshments and the opportunity to stop to take in the view and get photos. You can even learn how to operate the equipment and lead the dogs, with your guide available to instruct and help. Or you can relax in the sled and enjoy the ride. Either way, this is a unique experience you won’t find in many places!

7. Give cross-country skiing, fat biking, snowmobiling 0r snowshoeing a try

What else haven’t you tried? Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, fat biking? Gunnison Crested Butte offers all of these Colorado winter activities to Houston families and more.

Cross-country skiing in Crested Butte and Gunnison

The Crested Butte Nordic Center grooms over 50 km of trails for classic and skate Nordic skiing. There are trails for skiers of all abilities. Cross-country ski trails are labeled the same way as downhill ski runs: easy trails are green, intermediate trails are blue and difficult trails are black or double black. All Nordic Center trails are labeled with their difficulty, so this is a great place to XC ski with kids. You must purchase a pass for most Nordic Center trails. The Nordic Center also offers ski and snowshoe rentals and lessons. Gunnison Nordic Club grooms a few areas in Gunnison for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as well.

a skier on a groomed Nordic skiing track in a wooded area with a pointy mountain peak in the background

Snowshoeing in Crested Butte and Gunnison

Snowshoeing is a great activity for families who enjoy hiking. Inexpensive rentals and the many miles of groomed trails in Gunnison and Crested Butte mean there is no learning curve. All of the trails the Crested Butte Nordic Center and Gunnison Nordic Club grooms are open to snowshoeing. This activity is great for Houston families with kids of varying ages. If you can walk, you can probably snowshoe!

Fat biking in Crested Butte and Gunnison

Want to give fat biking a try? Some bike shops offer fat bike rentals in the winter. The fat bike accessible Nordic Center trails or Crested Butte Mountain Resort are both good options for Houston families. Please make sure you have the proper passes for fat biking in these areas and abide by all rules. Hartman Rocks Recreation Area in Gunnison is also groomed for fat biking.

Snowmobiling in Crested Butte and Gunnison

For something a little more adventurous, go on a half or full day snowmobile tour. Bring your own sled (make sure you have all the proper registrations) or go with an outfitter. The Gunnison Valley is comprised of over 2 million acres of public lands. There are abundant opportunities to get out and explore. With any winter recreation, avalanches are a possible concern. Please ensure you have all the proper skills, equipment and knowledge necessary to stay safe in and navigate avalanche terrain.

Plan your winter trip to Crested Butte

Are you ready to experience the magic of winter in the Crested Butte mountains? Start planning your trip! Book flights and a hotel or vacation rental early for the best rate. Browse all available lodging options based on your trip dates and desired amenities to find the perfect place to stay. Our trip planning guide can also help you plan things to do, pick places to eat, check the weather and road conditions, and browse flights.

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