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Crested Butte Beginner Skiing Guide

Looking for easy ski runs at Crested Butte Mountain Resort? Although Crested Butte is famous for its extreme terrain, easy ski trails at Crested Butte make up 14% of the mountain’s terrain. This Crested Butte beginner skiing guide will tell you which lifts have runs for novices, help you get around the mountain and show you which runs match your ability level.


Beginner chairlifts at Crested Butte

Three lifts primarily serve Crested Butte beginner skiing terrain: Peachtree lift, Red Lady Express and Painter Boy lift. See where these lifts are located on CBMR’s winter trail map.

Carpet lifts at Crested Butte

Not ready to tackle a chairlift yet? Practice your skills on Aspen Carpet, Spruce Carpet or Pine Carpet. Carpet lifts are conveyor belts you stand on to be transported to the top of a small slope. Carpet lifts are the best place to start for brand-new skiers and snowboarders who are still getting comfortable on their skis and boards.

Peachtree Lift

Peachtree lift is specifically geared toward beginners. It’s located at the base area to the right of the Treasury Center. Peachtree is one of the newest lifts at CBMR. It was installed in winter 2021-22. Each chair holds three people. This area is designed for beginners to learn the basics of skiing and riding before heading to more difficult trails. This is where you want to head if you’re still learning things like how to turn and stop.


This short groomed run is directly under the lift. It has a consistent pitch so you can focus on mastering the fundamentals. This part of the mountain is mellow. You’re most likely to encounter other beginners and people taking lessons.

Rustler’s Gulch

Head left off Peachtree for the tail end of Rustler’s Gulch. This short run is groomed and also has a low and consistent pitch ideal for those who are learning. A few black runs connect to the top of Rustler’s Gulch, which is above Peachtree. 25% of the terrain at CBMR is advanced and 37% is expert. Honing your skills on Crested Butte beginner skiing terrain can help you work up to the black and double-black terrain this ski area is known for.

High Tide

Take High Tide if you want to get to the base area. Head right once you unload from the lift to get to Red Lady and the Treasury Center. High Tide is groomed. The base area has food and drink options when you’re ready to take a break. Butte 66, Coal Breaker Coffee Co. and Rooster Run are in the Treasury Center. Grab a cup of coffee for a break or head here for lunch. There is also an ice cream shop and a burger joint at the base.

A person skis down a gentle slope called warming house hill at crested butte mountain resort. Warming House Hill heads to the base area

Red Lady Lift

The bottom of Red Lady Express is right at the base area. It’s a high-speed quad and the fastest beginner lift. This lift has the highest concentration of green runs on the mountain. Red Lady is great for beginner skiers who have some prior experience but aren’t ready for blue runs yet. All the green runs off Red Lady funnel onto Warming House Hill, which ends at the base area. Warming House Hill is groomed.


Head straight once you unload from the lift. The run is a few hundred yards to skier’s left. There are many runs to choose from in this area. Carefully follow trail signs to take the runs you want to ski. Green signs indicate easy trails. Houston is groomed and is the easiest way to get to the base area from Red Lady. Houston is long and winding. It isn’t steep but will allow you to practice picking up some speed. You’ll pass Painter Boy lift on the way down. The trail flattens out for half a mile just past Painter Boy. Do your best to keep your speed through here. Be mindful of others since this area sees many skiers. Snowboarders should avoid this trail so they don’t have to hop or walk. Take Warming House Hill from here to the base.

Poverty Gulch

Head straight off the lift before taking a left onto Poverty Gulch. This run is groomed. It begins with a slightly steeper pitch before leveling out. You can also drop into the trees on the skier’s right to practice glade skiing. The trees in this area are widely spaced and not steep. Head to East River for more glade skiing if you enjoy skiing these trees and are looking for more of a challenge. Poverty Gulch connects to Houston.

Mineral Point

Head left off Red Lady to get to Mineral Point. The top of this run is next to Teocalli lift. The upgraded Teocalli lift was installed in winter 2019-20. It seats four. Mineral Point is usually groomed with ungroomed patches off to the side. This is a good place to practice skiing mellow powder. This run connects to Houston.


The lap bar on Red Lady has a map of the mountain. Pull the bar down on the ride up and view the map to help navigate the mountain. To get to Kubler, head straight once you unload from the lift. Take the first left onto a trail that is lined with trees. Eventually, this run connects to Lower Keystone. Kubler is not groomed, but Lower Keystone is.

Peanut to Lower Twister to Big Al’s

Take a sharp left after you unload from Red Lady to get on Peanut. Pass under the lift and keep heading straight. Peanut intersects with a run called Roller Coaster. Look up to the left at the intersection before crossing to avoid skiers coming down. Uley’s Cabin is to the left after the intersection. This après spot serves Colorado-inspired lunches and signature drinks. Reservations are recommended for inside dining. More casual dining is offered on the patio. The run becomes Lower Twister as you pass Uley’s Cabin. Lower Twister becomes Big Al’s once you pass the entrance to a terrain park on the left. Big Al’s is short and a little steeper than Peanut and Lower Twister. Enjoy this swift downhill before getting back to the base. These runs are groomed.

Roller Coaster to Lower Keystone

Take a sharp left after you get off Red Lady. Follow the signs to pass under the lift and then take a right. Roller Coaster is steeper than other greens off Red Lady. It connects with Lower Keystone to get you back to Red Lady.

An adult and two children ski on a trail through the trees.

Painter Boy Lift

Painter Boy lift is located on Houston shortly before it becomes Warming House Hill. Aspens grow plentifully on this part of the mountain. You can get a small taste of what tree skiing is like on one of the wide and groomed runs that cut through the trees. The Crested Butte beginner skiing green runs over here are short and all funnel back to the bottom of Painter Boy. You can also use Painter Boy to get to some mellow blue runs. Three people fit on each chair.

The Umbrella Bar

The Umbrella Bar is also at the top of Painter Boy. The Umbrella Bar serves soups, snacks, sandwiches and drinks. There is bar seating inside the yurt and picnic tables outside. Kick back in an Adirondack chair and enjoy the sun on bluebird days. The location of the Umbrella Bar provides fantastic views of the peak and the surrounding mountains.

Splain’s Gulch

There are many runs at the top of Painter Boy. Take a moment to look at the trail signs so you know where you’re going. Green trails are the easiest. This groomed wide-open run goes under the lift. It is flat and a good choice for beginners. You can use it to get back to the bottom of Painter Boy or head to the base. Hang right at the bottom of the run to get to Warming House Hill.


Unload left off Painter Boy to get to Topsy. This groomed run goes through the aspen trees on a wide path before ending at the bottom of Painter Boy. It’s steeper than Splain’s Gulch and runs parallel to it. This run is short, like most of the runs at Crested Butte. Overall, Crested Butte tends to have shorter runs than other ski areas such as Jackson Hole or Vail.

Alley Loop, Elk Ave, Mary Jo and Grand Traverse

These groomed runs can be accessed by unloading left off Painter Boy. They are all short and take you on wide paths through the aspen trees. Use the trail signs to navigate them. These runs access Columbine Hill, a blue run. The top of the run has a great view of the mountain and a shrine decorated with prayer flags.

Gunsight Pass

Head right once you unload from Painter Boy to get to Gunsight Pass. Pass the Umbrella Bar and look for an opening in the trees on the right side of the blue run Prospector. This groomed trail passes some of the ski-in/ski-out residences on Crested Butte Mountain. It ends at the bottom of the Teocalli Lift. Teocalli unloads in the same area as Red Lady. You can take any of the green runs from here back to the base.

Twin Bridges

Take a left off Gunsight Pass to ski Twin Bridges. This run takes you under a bridge and to the bottom of the Prospect Lift. It is not groomed and is one of the hardest green runs at CBMR.

A mountain peak lit up in the sun. Crested Butte Mountain is home to Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Westwall Lift

Westwall lift is next to Peachtree lift and behind Westwall Lodge. Westwall serves a blue and black run. You can also use it to get to the base area if you’re staying in one of the nearby condos. To get to the base area, unload left at the top of the lift and take the cat track to T Bar Road, which connects to Warming House Hill. Some skating or walking may be necessary.


Prospect Lift

This lift provides ski-in/ski-out access to condos located in Mt. Crested Butte. Prospect unloads where Painter Boy unloads. Take any of the green runs off Painter Boy to get to the base area.

Fixed grip vs. high speed lifts

Most Crested Butte beginner skiing lifts are fixed grip lifts. Fixed grip lifts tend to be slower and have less capacity than high speed lifts. They are attached to a constantly moving cable. Fixed grip lifts maintain the same speed for the whole ride. High speed lifts are faster and sometimes referred to as “express lifts.” High speed lifts slow down in the terminals so people can load and unload them safely. Peachtree and Painter Boy are fixed grip lifts. Red Lady is a high speed lift.

Skiing tips for beginners

If you’re brand new to skiing, take a lesson with the Crested Butte Ski and Ride School. Group and private lessons are available for adults and children. Rent skis, poles and boots to familiarize yourself with how the gear works before committing to buying your own. Rental shop staff will walk you through how everything works and help you switch out gear if you need something different throughout the day. Grab a trail map from the Treasury Center or use the Epic Pass app so you can navigate the mountain. Dressing properly is just as important as having the right gear. This guide to visiting Crested Butte in winter has a winter packing list and more information about a Colorado ski vacation. Staying safe will also help you have a good Colorado ski trip. Check out the downhill skiing tips in this winter trails etiquette article for information on skiing safely.


Plan your Colorado ski trip

Plan your Colorado ski vacation today! Our trip planning guide can help you book flights to Colorado, find a place to stay, plan things to do and more. This weekend ski trip itinerary can help you get started.

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