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Crested Butte and Gunnison Fall Guide

There are several fall events celebrated each year in Crested Butte and Gunnison. The famous Chili and Beer Festival, races and the start of ski season are a few. Fall is a favorite season for many in Colorado. The temperatures in September, October and November in Gunnison and Crested Butte are milder than summer but still pleasant enough to get outside. The leaves on the aspen trees change to bright hues of yellow and gold with the occasional red and orange. Biking and hiking are still enjoyable as well. Fall is also the season for kokanee salmon fishing and scenic drives. This fall guide features all the events and activities to help you plan your fall Colorado trip to Gunnison and Crested Butte.


Fall 2023 Events

Chili and Beer Festival

Sample local food and drinks in Mt. Crested Butte

This annual festival celebrates locally made chili and Colorado brewed beer. Located at the base area of Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), attendees get to sample locally made chili and craft beer from all over Colorado. Once the tasting is done attendees vote on their favorites. There are several categories to vote for, including “best of.” The winners receive a cash prize. The Lil Smokies will also be performing. Enjoy tasty chili and cold beer while listening to modern American roots tunes.

When: September 9, 2023
Where: CBMR Base Area
More information


The Gunni Grinder

Try gravel biking in Gunnison

This gravel race has three courses to choose from—120 miles, 60-ish miles and 30 miles. All routes start in downtown Gunnison. They showcase some of the gravel riding options in Gunnison by taking riders on some of the dirt and gravel roads in the area, including roads at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. A portion of the entry fees will support Gunnison Trails, a local trail advocacy organization.

When: September 9, 2023
Where: Gunnison, Colorado
More information

A scene of fall leaves with a mountain with a large white W in the background

Western Colorado University homecoming

Watch the lighting of the W

Homecoming at Western Colorado University features a parade, a concert, the lighting of the W, tailgating and the homecoming football game. Celebrate 100 years of Western becoming a four-year institution!

When: September 29-October 1, 2023
Where: WCU
More information


Crested Butte Film Festival

Watch new films

This annual film festival features films from all over the world. The festival’s goal is to feature films that highlight connection, creativity, cultural awareness and social action. Enjoy films, panel discussions, filmmaker talks, parties and more.

When: September 27-October 1, 2023
Where: Crested Butte, Colorado
More information


The Grand Traverse Mountain Run

Run from Crested Butte to Aspen

This point-to-point ultra-marathon takes runners from Crested Butte to Aspen. The course is 40 miles long with over 6,000’ of elevation gain through the Elk Mountains. Ride in the Grand Traverse Mountain Bike and ski the Grand Traverse in March to complete the triple crown.

When: September 2, 2023
Where: Crested Butte, Colorado
More information

Two female mountain bikers ride a singletrack trail through golden colored aspen leaves

The Grand Traverse Mountain Bike

Mountain bike from Aspen to Crested Butte

This point-to-point mountain bike race begins in Aspen and ends in Crested Butte. The route is 40 miles long with over 7,800’ of elevation gain. The ride begins by ascending Aspen Mountain for 3,000’. Run in the Grand Traverse Mountain Run and ski the Grand Traverse in March to complete the triple crown.

When: September 3, 2022
Where: Crested Butte, Colorado
More information


Crested Butte Nordic’s Thanksgiving Camp

Learn how to cross-country ski

Crested Butte Nordic is taking a break from its traditional Thanksgiving Camp while they work on completing a new facility. This years camp is for kids ages 10-19 who have xc ski raced before and are looking to develop their skills and improve their racing outcomes.

When: November 23-26, 2023
Where: Crested Butte Nordic Center
More information


Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) ski season opening day

When does Crested Butte open for the 2023-24 ski season?

CBMR will open the week of Thanksgiving. Open terrain and lifts will be determined by snowfall and snow-making operations.

When: November 22, 2023
Where: Crested Butte Mountain Resort
More information


Bridges of the Butte

Raise money for the Adaptive Sports Center

Pedal your butte off! Every sign up for Bridges of the Butte helps raise money for scholarships, equipment and instructors at the Adaptive Sports Center. Participants don costumes and ride through Crested Butte. Every lap raises money! Followed by an afterparty on Elk Avenue.

When: September 10, 2023
Where: Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, Colorado
More information

A colorful sunset over a mountain biker riding through yellow aspen leaves

Fall activities

There are so many things to do in Gunnison and Crested Butte in the fall! Check below for some favorite fall activities in the Gunnison Valley.


Mountain bike through golden aspen groves

With cooler temperatures and changing aspen leaves, fall is a great time to mountain bike in the Gunnison Valley. To really get the experience of the changing leaves hit some trails in Crested Butte. At a higher elevation than Gunnison, Crested Butte has more aspen trees. Here are some fall mountain biking rides in Crested Butte.

A river flowing between fall colored trees under a blue and cloudy sky

Fly fish for Kokanee salmon

Kokanee salmon typically migrate during September and October. They begin at Blue Mesa and travel 30 miles against the Gunnison River to the East River and the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery. There are not many places to experience a salmon run, making the Gunnison Valley a unique destination for anglers.


Leaf peep at one of Colorado’s largest aspen groves

Kebler Pass in Crested Butte, CO is one the largest aspen groves in Colorado and likely one the largest living organisms in the world. Kebler Pass can be used to reach Paonia from Crested Butte. It is part of a couple scenic drives, including The West Elk Loop-Scenic Byway and Ohio Pass. There are also some hikes off the pass. Kebler Pass also makes for a great gravel bike ride.


Rock climb at Hartman Rocks

Hartman Rocks is a popular spot for rock climbing in Gunnison. Fall climbing in Gunnison has mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine. The granite at Hartman Rocks has trad, top rope and sport climbing for beginners to experts. There is also bouldering.

A wide shot of a downtown street with businesses on each side. The street is lined with trees where the leaves are turning colors and cars. There is a stoplight and the sky is blue and cloudy

Hang out on Main Street and Elk Avenue

Check out dining options, local businesses to shop at, and coffee shops and bars on the main drags of Gunnison and Crested Butte. Main Street on Gunnison has galleries, an arts center and a park that often features live music. Elk Avenue in Crested Butte has old mining town charm with lots of bars, galleries and a history museum.


Planning your trip to Gunnison and Crested Butte

Plan your trip ahead of time to find other things to do. Once you’ve enjoyed a fall event in Gunnison and Crested Butte, snuggle up in your cozy lodging for the chilly fall nights. Try to include a fall scenic drive in your route for getting here. Colorado weather can be unpredictable. In the fall it can become cold or stay mild, so check the weather before heading out to ensure you’re prepared.

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