Gunnison and Crested Butte Winter Activities

Wondering where in Colorado to go for your winter ski trip? Crested Butte, Colorado is known for steep downhill skiing. Surrounded by millions of acres of public lands, Gunnison and Crested Butte also have easy access to scenic Nordic skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Something equally magical about winter activities in the Gunnison Valley is the towns that make it up. There are four unique mountain towns in the valley: Gunnison, Almont, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. Each town has its own vibe and things to do. Take a break from skiing or head to town once the day is over to experience what they have to offer!

A cliff face topped with snow

What is there to do in Gunnison in the winter?

Gunnison’s hub for winter activities is Main Street. On Main Street there are clothing stores, gift shops, restaurants, galleries and coffee shops. The Gunnison Arts Center is also downtown.


What kind of events does Gunnison have in the winter?

One of Gunnison’s main winter events is Night of Lights, which is held in early December. Main Street shuts down, local businesses serve winter treats, and Santa lights the tree. Gunnison hosts an ice fishing tournament on Blue Mesa Reservoir as well. Find more winter events in our winter guide.


What is the arts scene like in Gunnison?

The Gunnison Arts Center hosts classes, art exhibits, concerts and more. The arts center also hosts an art walk on the first Friday of every month. Main Street is home to a few art galleries as well. Discover local art including paintings, jewelry, pottery, photography and more.


What can I do outside in Gunnison for winter activities?

Gunnison has fat biking, cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing for winter activities.


Where can I cross-country ski in Gunnison?

Gunnison Nordic Club grooms a few areas around town for cross-country skiing. The practice field at Western Colorado University, Dos Rios Golf Club and Van Tuyl Ranch are groomed for cross-country skiing. They are easily accessed and have flat grades for those learning how to cross-country ski. The roads at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area are periodically groomed and are perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers. Mill Creek, which is located a few miles northwest of Gunnison off Ohio Pass road, offers a more remote cross-country skiing experience. The road is groomed for several miles, but after that, the track is not maintained. For intermediate and advanced cross-country skiers, the views of the snowy Castles will be worth the trek. The South Rim road of Black Canyon National Park is also groomed for classic and skate skiing, depending on snow levels. This road is relatively flat and appropriate for cross-country skiers of all ability levels. Enjoy stunning views of the canyon far away from cars and snowmobiles.


Where can I snowshoe in Gunnison?

There are trails to snowshoe at Hartman Rocks and Mill Creek. These areas are multi-use, so be sure to share the trails and follow good winter trails etiquette.

fat biking winter activities in Gunnison

Where can I fat bike in Gunnison?

Hartman Rocks is the best place to fat bike in Gunnison. Gunnison Trails grooms over 14 miles of singletrack specifically for fat bikes at Hartman Rocks.


Where can I ice skate in Gunnison?

Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Colorado, is a popular ice skating spot. Once it freezes in the winter, people head west of Gunnison to skate on the wild ice. If you plan to lake skate, make sure you have the proper skills, equipment and knowledge to stay safe. Jorgensen Ice Rink also has an indoor and outdoor rink with public skate hours. The property also has an outdoor frozen pond available to the public for skating.


What are family-friendly winter activities in Gunnison?

Gunnison has a sledding hill popular with the locals at the Western Colorado University practice field. The Gunnison Arts Center also has many kid-focused art classes. Other winter activities such as ice skating and dog sledding.

A downtown street in the winter. A mountain peak in the background obscured by fog

What can I do in Crested Butte in winter?

Downtown Crested Butte, Elk Avenue, has many places to shop, eat and get drinks. Crested Butte is a former mining town turned quirky ski town. Elk Avenue is lined with colorful historic buildings that have been here since the mining days. Elk Avenue also has numerous art galleries and a museum. Just east of downtown is the Center for the Arts Crested Butte.


What kind of events does Crested Butte have in the winter?

Crested Butte hosts several events in the winter. The Alley Loop is a Nordic ski race that takes place every February. As with many Crested Butte events, costumes are involved. The Grand Traverse and Gothic Mountain Tour are ski mountaineering races that demonstrate the grit and athleticism of ski-mo racers in the Gunnison Valley and beyond. Some of Crested Butte’s bars, including the Eldo and the Public House, host live music in the evenings. The arts center hosts concerts, performances, classes and more. The Crested Butte Museum does historic pub crawls, walking tours, and historic ski and snowshoe tours. Check out our events calendar to view more events.


What is the arts scene like in Crested Butte?

There are many art galleries in town to check out. They display paintings, ceramics, jewelry, drawings and more. Crested Butte has a large artist community, so much of the artwork comes from local artists and was inspired by the local landscapes and wildlife. The arts center has a gallery that rotates artwork, so there’s frequently something new to see.


What can I do outside in Crested Butte in winter?

Many summer hiking and biking trails can be utilized in the winter. These trails can be snowshoed, fat biked, cross-country skied and snowmobiled. Before heading out on a trail please double check its winter use rules. There is also an outdoor ice rink in Crested Butte.

A person cross country skis away from the camera with a dog with mountain peaks in the background

Where can I cross-country ski in Crested Butte?

The Crested Butte Nordic Center grooms 50 kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing. Most of these trails can be accessed right from town. Though they’re close to town, you don’t have to ski far before being away from the noise of cars and people in town. You will need a pass for most Nordic Center trails. Some trails are dog-friendly; your dog will need a pass as well. There are also ungroomed areas to cross-country ski in Crested Butte. Some include Brush Creek Road, Slate River Road and Washington Gulch Road.


Where can I snowshoe in Crested Butte?

Some Nordic Center trails can be snowshoed. Check the Nordic Center’s website or study a paper map to learn the rules of a trail before using it. Cement Creek Road is another popular area for snowshoeing.


Where can I snowmobile in Crested Butte?

Kebler Pass is a popular snowmobiling spot that can be accessed right from town in Crested Butte. Lake Irwin is another place to snowmobile in Crested Butte.


Where can I ice skate in Crested Butte?

Big Mine Ice Arena is a covered outdoor ice rink in Crested Butte. Big Mine doesn’t use refrigeration, so you get the experience of skating on natural ice in the rink. Check it out during open skate hours.


What are family-friendly activities in Crested Butte?

Families can enjoy other winter activities such as ice skating and dog sledding in Crested Butte. Snowshoeing is another fun and easy way to get outside with the kids. There is also a children’s museum that offers camps and classes for kids. If you have kids learning how to ski, check out the Ski and Ride School at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.


A scene of hotels and vacation rentals with snowy mountain peaks in the background

What can I do in Mt. Crested Butte in the winter?

Mt. Crested Butte is home to Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR). CBMR is known for steep and extreme skiing, though plenty of terrain there is also suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers. Mt. Crested Butte is also where you’ll want to stay if you want to be close to the resort. You can choose from ski-in, ski-out resorts, vacation rentals and traditional hotels.


What is skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort like?

The terrain at CBMR is 14% beginner, 24.6% intermediate, 24.8% advanced and 36.6% expert. Crested Butte Mountain Resort is known for extreme skiing. The mountain also has some of the steepest in-bounds ski terrain in Colorado. Expert skiers will enjoy steep faces, big moguls, thickly wooded glades and rock features of all sizes. However, beginner and intermediate skiers will find greens and blue runs to enjoy as well. Check out some of the best intermediate runs at Crested Butte. New skiers can take a group or private lesson at the Crested Butte Ski and Ride School.

A skier skis down a powder run

What events does Mt. Crested Butte have in the winter?

The Al Johnson Memorial Telemark Race at CBMR commemorates local mail carrier Al Johnson. Competitors must race on telemark skis and often don costumes. Mt. Crested Butte also hosts Blister Summit, a consumer-focused gear testing event. Test new gear and ski with professional skiers.

A view of a reservoir with snow capped mountain peaks in the background. A person and her dog are in the foregound

What can I do in Almont in winter?

Almont is a small town located between Gunnison and Crested Butte on Hwy 135. In the summer this area is popular with rafters, fishers, horseback riders and OHVers. In the winter Almont makes a good basecamp for ice fishers and snowmobilers.


Where can I snowmobile in Almont?

Taylor Park offers off-piste snowmobiling. For a more beginner experience, consider hiring a guide service.


What events does Almont have in the winter?

There is an ice fishing tournament on Taylor Park Reservoir. Test your ice fishing skills and compete for money and prizes.


Planning your trip

Along with having the coolest mountain towns in Colorado, here are seven reasons to ski Crested Butte this winter. While planning your trip, choose where to stay and book flights to get here. Looking for other things to do while you’re here? Consult our winter guide.



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