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Trip Itinerary: A Colorado Spring Weekend Getaway to Crested Butte and Gunnison

Have you considered a Colorado spring weekend getaway? Spring is a quiet time of year to visit Gunnison and Crested Butte. Experience a mellow atmosphere, the first desert wildflowers and a wide range of weather during spring in the Gunnison Valley. Two of the best spring activities in the Gunnison Valley are mountain biking and backcountry skiing. This trip itinerary can help you start planning a spring trip.

A cluster of desert wildflowers at Hartman Rocks

Spring in Gunnison and Crested Butte

This time of year straddles multiple seasons. Crested Butte usually still has snow in the high country, while Gunnison is starting to warm up. You can backcountry ski in Crested Butte and mountain bike in Gunnison all in the same weekend.

 

Visiting Gunnison and Crested Butte in Spring

Spring is a quiet time of year to visit Crested Butte and Gunnison. This means that some businesses might be closed or have limited hours, especially in Crested Butte. Lower visitation might also mean lower rates for lodging for a Colorado spring weekend getaway.

 

Day 1: Friday

Getting to Crested Butte and Gunnison

This is when you’ll arrive for your Colorado spring weekend getaway. Flying or driving are options for getting here. Spring flight schedules begin in April. You can connect to Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) through Denver, Colorado year-round. Make sure to check road conditions if you plan to drive. Spring snow is a possibility in the high country.

Lodging in the Gunnison Valley

Check into your lodging once you arrive. Lodging in Gunnison is convenient and affordable. Crested Butte lodging options are mostly bed-and-breakfasts and vacation rentals. Lodging in Mt. Crested Butte includes vacation rentals, ski-in/ski-out resorts and slopeside condos. Almont lodging includes rustic cabins and cozy vacation rentals. Lodging in rural Gunnison County is mostly cabins, camping, vacation rentals and small lodges close to the outdoors.

 

Day 2: Saturday

Backcountry ski in Crested Butte

The Gunnison Valley has over two million acres of public lands, providing many options for backcountry skiing. Venture into aspen glades, steep couloirs and fun cutes. The routes in this pristine wilderness tend to be technical and challenging. Terrain here is best suited to people who already have some experience. Study Crested Butte backcountry zones carefully, and choose ones within your ability level.

Two people backcountry skiing in Crested Butte

Backcountry skiing safety

Avalanches are always a risk in the backcountry. If you plan to venture into the backcountry, please make sure you have the proper skills, equipment and knowledge to stay safe. The Crested Butte Avalanche Center (CBAC) provides a daily avalanche forecast for the zones around Crested Butte. CBAC analyzes the snowpack every day to help winter backcountry users make smart decisions about where to recreate.

Places to backcountry ski in Crested Butte

Washington Gulch

The Anthracites

Gothic Mountain

Snodgrass

Avery Sluice

Coney’s

Red Lady (Mount Emmons)

Explore downtown Crested Butte

Elk Avenue is Crested Butte’s hub. This historic street is lined with restaurants, shops, galleries, bars, music venues and more. There is also a history museum and a children’s museum. Call ahead to make sure the places you want to visit are open since many businesses in Crested Butte close or have limited hours for the off-season.

 

Day 3: Sunday

Mountain bike Graceland at Hartman Rocks

Graceland follows the north edge of Hartman Rocks. This three-mile trail provides beautiful views of the West Elk Mountains and the Gunnison River. The top of the ridge is challenging, but the descent is smooth and flowy. Link your ride to Cat’s Castle and High Five for a short intermediate loop. Add Gateway and Josie’s for a longer ride.

A person riding a bike during a colorado spring weekend getaway

Hartman Rocks

Hartman Rocks Recreation Area includes over 8,000 acres of public land characterized by unique rock formations, rolling fields of sagebrush and rocky and technical trails. Hartman Rocks is the first place to dry out in spring in the Gunnison Valley. Take advantage of the spring sunshine and tacky trails and hop on your mountain bike. Hartman Rocks has beginner, intermediate and difficult trails.

Spring mountain biking at Hartman Rocks

As snow melts in spring, mud can form on the trails. Go around the mud or turn back if you can’t avoid it. Keep your eyes out for spring wildflowers, too. Please note that all trails south of Powerline Road are closed until May 15 every year for wildlife conservation.

Other trails at Hartman Rocks

Josie’s

Luge

Buddy Bear

Rattlesnake

Ring Dike

Josho’s

 

Explore downtown Gunnison

Most of Gunnison’s shops and places to eat are on Main Street. Find pizza, coffee, Mexican cuisine, bar food, tapas, and craft beer and cocktails. Pop into a gallery to buy a piece of local art as a souvenir. A few businesses have reduced hours in spring, but overall Gunnison continues to s functioning normally during the season.

 

Spring trail closures

Spring in Colorado is also known as mud season. Trails might be closed to bikes if they are still too muddy. Some trails also close from March 15 to May 15 to protect the Gunnison sage grouse. Please abide by all spring trail restrictions. Hikers are encouraged to hike in the morning when the ground is still frozen.

A sign that says "mud season closure" to indicate a trail is closed to motorized traffic during mud season at hartman rocks

Spring weather in Gunnison and Crested Butte

Sun, rain and snow are all possible during a Colorado spring weekend getaway. Plan ahead and prepare for these weather possibilities when recreating outside. Proper planning can help you have a safe and enjoyable time. Check the forecast before you head out and pack water, snacks, and extra layers.

 

Other spring activities

Gravel biking, whitewater boating, hiking and road biking are other fun spring activities in the Gunnison Valley.

Gravel biking

Most of the gravel biking in the Gunnison Valley is in Gunnison. There are over 1,000 miles of gravel roads in the Gunnison Valley. The many miles of dirt and gravel roads in Gunnison usually dry out sooner than trails. Please check road conditions before heading out. Hartman Rocks and Signal Peak are two places to gravel bike in Gunnison.

Whitewater rafting

Spring is one of the best seasons for whitewater rafting and boating. Snow runoff fills the rivers with rushing water for a thrilling ride. The boating season is longer in Gunnison than in nearby Buena Vista, Colorado. The East River, the Gunnison River, and the Upper, Middle, and Lower Taylor are all whitewater rafting spots.

Hiking

Spring hiking varies year by year depending on when the trails melt out. Gunnison Trails usually melt before Crested Butte trails. Hartman Rocks and the Curecanti National Recreation Area are two spring hiking areas in Gunnison.

Hartman Rocks Hiking

Hartman Rocks has over 40 miles of trails. Before May 15 these trails are only open to hikers. After this, they are multi-use and shared with bikes and motorized traffic. Hike in the morning to avoid the mud.

See a canyon with a creek running through it on your colorado spring weekend getaway

Curecanti Hiking

Curecanti is situated along Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest lake in Colorado. Explore hikes that provide stunning views of the canyons that feed into Blue Mesa. A popular hike close to Gunnison is Dillion Pinnacles. This easy hike provides views of Blue Mesa and the Dillion Pinnacles, which are volcanic breccia formed from volcanic activity.

Road biking

Road biking is another way to get outside on your bike in Gunnison and Crested Butte. Road biking routes include Ohio Creek Road, Taylor Canyon and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Black Canyon is near Montrose, Colorado.

 

Plan your Colorado spring trip

Ready for a Colorado spring getaway? Start planning your trip! Use our trip planning guide to plan things to do, book flights, reserve a place to stay and more. Curious what the best season to visit Colorado is? Explore what the different seasons in Gunnison and Crested Butte have to offer with our seasons guide.

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