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Crested Butte Summer Activities

Crested Butte Summer Activities: As you’re planning your 2021 Colorado summer vacation, you’ve got lots of choices for how to spend your time here. No matter your interests, there are fun activities in Crested Butte for everyone.

After a day full of adventures, you’ll want to kick your feet up and relax at your accommodations. Whether you’re looking for a hotel, a bed and breakfast, a condo or a cabin, you’ll find the perfect lodging on our Partners page.

Downtown Crested Butte

Here in Crested Butte, we have always celebrated our small businesses. Now more than ever, we hope you’ll choose to shop local and support the unique, family-owned companies that make this place so special. Downtown Crested Butte is a bustling hub of restaurants, art galleries, gift shops, spas, cafes, marijuana dispensaries, gear stores and so much more.

Storefronts on Elk Avenue in downtown Crested Butte in summer. The stores are colorful, and flowers in flowerboxes line the street.

Downtown Crested Butte

Hiking

There are day hikes in Crested Butte for people of every ability level. If you’re looking for easy trails, take a stroll on Woods Walk, or enjoy an afternoon with the kids on the Beaver Ponds Trail. Moderate hikes near Crested Butte include Cliff Creek Trail on Kebler Pass, Walrod Cutoff Trail near CB South, and Oh-Be-Joyful Trail on Slate River Road. If you’re up for a challenge, the Green Lake Trail or Yule Pass Trail will provide it.

Trail running

Anywhere you can hike, you can run. Bring plenty of water and be prepared for lots of vertical gain.

Biking

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s a perfect mountain bike ride in Crested Butte for you. Pedal under towering aspen trees on Happy Hour and Upper Loop trails, or explore intermediate terrain on the Dyke Trail off Kebler Pass road or the Strand Hill trail system southeast of town. Challenge yourself on Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman’s or the 403. New to mountain biking? Hire a guide to show you around, or rent a bike at a local bike shop. Our mountain biking guide has plenty of ideas for trails and loops.

Road cyclists will enjoy the views on Highway 135 and County Road 742. If gravel biking is more your style, Pearl Pass is a challenging and beautiful ride. County Road 10 is short but sweet. 

A woman smiles as she coasts down Lupine Trail on a bike in summer. Crested Butte is in the background.

Lupine Trail near Crested Butte

Fishing

Whether you prefer fly fishing or spin fishing, you’ve picked the right place to visit. Crested Butte’s many lakes and rivers provide a prime habitat for rainbow trout, brown trout and kokanee salmon. Talk to an associate at a local fly fishing shop to learn about hatches and current conditions. Even better, hire a fishing guide to take you to the best spots in a dory or a raft, or by walking and wading.

Horseback riding

See the mountains from a new perspective—the back of a horse! A guide will accompany you along the way. View our list of horseback guides to learn more about this kid-friendly activity.

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUPing)

This peaceful sport is a great way to explore Crested Butte’s alpine lakes. It’s easy to learn, and fun for the whole family (and even dogs!). Many local outfitters offer stand-up paddle board (SUP) rentals. Some of our favorite places to paddle board in Crested Butte are Long Lake, Lost Lake and Irwin Lake. Guide services are also available for day trips. Check out our SUP guide for more information.

Rafting

Whitewater rafting in Crested Butte is a great way to spend time outside with your family. The Taylor River, located about 15 miles south of Crested Butte in Almont, is a great place to take a river tour. Paddle through rapids on the fast-paced Upper Taylor, or sit back and relax as a guide rows you down the calm and scenic Lower Taylor. View our list of raft guides or peruse our whitewater rafting post for more information. 

A guide and a family of four paddle through a wave in the river.

Rafting the Upper Taylor

Scenic drives

Many dirt roads in the Gunnison Valley are accessible to two-wheel-drive vehicles and passenger vehicles. Enjoy beautiful views in the summer and fall from Ohio Pass, which connects Gunnison and Crested Butte, or Kebler Pass, which is a scenic shortcut from Crested Butte to Aspen. Cumberland Pass, between Tincup and Pitkin, is one of the highest roads in the U.S. The Jack’s Cabin cutoff is a shortcut into Taylor Canyon, and well worth checking out. Cottonwood Pass, which runs from Almont to Buena Vista, is now paved, but offers the same stunning views it always has. You might even see a moose along the way! Our sightseeing guide has even more ideas. 

Off-road vehicles

Crested Butte offers a multitude of trails and roads for ATVs, motorcycles and 4x4s. Brush Creek and Cement Creek roads are full of motorized singletrack networks. Motos will also enjoy the nearly endless trail options at Hartman Rocks. Taylor Park and Cumberland Pass are popular hubs for all types of off-road vehicles, with dozens of miles of trail and roads in each area. One of the best 4×4 drives in Crested Butte is the trip to Crystal Mill, the famous old mill north of Schofield Pass. Don’t forget to stop at the Devil’s Punchbowl along the way. Consider renting a four-wheel drive vehicle or hiring a guide while you’re here. Read our OHV guide for more routes.

Dogs

Crested Butte is a very dog-friendly town. Take a short walk down Elk Avenue and you’ll undoubtedly meet a few four-legged friends. Dog-friendly hotels are common. Many restaurant patios welcome canine guests, too. Be sure to check the pet policy at your chosen hotels and restaurants before visiting. If you need anything for your pet during your visit, there are several pet supply shops and veterinarians scattered throughout the valley. Nearly all local trails and public lands allow dogs. Please obey leash laws and clean up after your pooch!

A medium-sized white dog pants in a meadow of lupine flowers in summer with snowy mountains in the background.

Gunnison Crested Butte Summer Vacation FAQs

If you’re looking for a more affordable stay, consider Gunnison. There are several lodging options that are less expensive than comparable hotels in Crested Butte. You’ll also find that restaurants in Gunnison are more economical as well. Crested Butte is a popular mountain town destination, so if you’re looking to step it up a notch with this vacation, that’s where you should be.
Gunnison is a small town on the Western Slope that offers lots to do. A few of the main attractions in Gunnison include the Pioneer Museum, Hartman Rocks, Blue Mesa Reservoir and Gunnison Valley Observatory. Popular activities in Gunnison are hiking, mountain biking, fishing, boating and cross-country skiing. There’s also excellent boutique shops, retail stores, quaint coffee shops and antique stores to explore around downtown.
Gunnison offers just about every outdoor summer activity imaginable. Whitewater rafting is a popular draw because of the nearby rivers, including the Gunnison River and the Taylor River. For hiking, biking and exploring, there are millions of acres of public lands nearby, including Hartman Rocks, Gunnison National Forest and the West Elk Wilderness. There’s also fly-fishing in Gold Medal rivers, stand-up paddle boarding, horseback riding, parasailing and golf.
Modern-day Gunnison is best known for its alluring tourism that draws adventurers from all over the world. During the summers, there is whitewater rafting and kayaking on the nearby rivers. Blue Mesa Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Colorado. It’s a huge lake with endless opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming and more. There’s scenic hikes and bike trails at Hartman Rocks and beyond. The city has a rich mining and ranching history, and was the first town on the Western Slope to have a college (now known as Western Colorado University).
Crested Butte is about 28 miles from Gunnison via Colorado State Highway 135 North. The drive takes about 35 minutes depending on weather and traffic. From Gunnison, take Main Street to CO-135 and continue about 27 miles to Elk Avenue in Crested Butte. Turn left onto Elk Avenue to access downtown Crested Butte.
A beautiful mountain town, Crested Butte is the perfect place to beat the heat in the summer. Temperatures are more mild for fun summer activities like hiking, trail running, biking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and stand-up paddle boarding. If you’re looking for a less physical activity, spend time just exploring the unique downtown of Crested Butte and its many eclectic shops. Grab a refreshing coffee, soda or tea and walk around town, enjoying the bluebird skies, sun and refreshing mountain air!
August in Crested Butte is the pinnacle of summer. With temps sitting perfectly in the 70s and 80s, the weather is ideal for whitewater rafting or horseback riding. Or put on your waders and try your hand at fishing Gold Medal waters for brown trout and rainbow trout. Mountain bike through late season wildflowers, or explore the mountains on foot.
Crested Butte is often linked with other luxury destinations in Colorado like Vail or Beaver Creek, but it’s actually quite different from most high-end destinations. Crested Butte was a town long before it was a ski resort, so there’s lots more to do than just ski. During the summer months, the town comes alive with an abundance of outdoor adventures from hiking and biking to more extreme experiences like parasailing and whitewater rafting. Quirky downtown Crested Butte has an approachable, artistic vibe.
Crested Butte is well-known as a winter ski destination, so definitely make plans to get your turns in when the snow flies. More and more vacationers are choosing Crested Butte for a summer getaway because many of the top hotels and restaurants are more affordable during the warmer months. Not only can you take advantage of hotels at a cheaper rate, there’s so much to do! Spend your summer days sightseeing, rafting, kayaking, swimming, stand up paddle boarding, horseback riding, fly-fishing or getting in a round or two of golf. Changing aspen leaves bring visitors in the fall, and spring mountain biking at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison is a popular draw.
In the summertime when the weather is great is the ideal time to get out and explore every inch of Crested Butte. You can shop, walk around town, grab a coffee and just watch people under bluebird skies and lots of sunshine, or plan a fun outing. There’s lots to choose from. You can hike, bike, 4×4 or visit one of Crested Butte’s many galleries or shops in the downtown core.
Crested Butte is one of the safest towns in Colorado. There is very little violent crime year over year, and even minor crimes are at a minimum most of the time. The town is relatively small and most of the locals know each other. Vacationers tend to not cause too many problems, even during peak periods like Christmas or New Year’s Eve. The town has also implemented social distancing and other protocols related to COVID-19 to help keep residents and visitors safe.
There are some prime spots for fly-fishing near Crested Butte. And, while a good fisherman never reveals his honey hole, there are a few popular spots that are can’t-miss on most summer days. To reel ‘em in one after another, plan a guided fly-fishing trip at Gunnison Gorge or along the Gunnison River, where you can either float the river or put on your waders and get in! There are half-day outings that last about 4 hours and full-day trips that take around 6-7 hours from start to finish. The Taylor, East and Slate Rivers are also prime locations for fly fishing near Almont and Crested Butte.
The Taylor River, about 20 minutes from Crested Butte, offers technical class II and III rapids with a beautiful canyon as a scenic backdrop for your memorable ride. Scenic River Tours in Gunnison and Three Rivers Resort in nearby Almont offer guided rafting trips on the Taylor and Gunnison rivers. Spring runoff facilitates extreme whitewater kayaking in March, April and May. Popular creek boating spots include Daisy Creek, the upper East River and Oh Be Joyful. For a short window in late spring, stand-up paddleboarding on the Slate River is a beautiful and mellow way to see the wetlands in the north end of the Gunnison Valley. Flat-water SUP-ing on Lake Irwin, Taylor Reservoir or Blue Mesa Reservoir is a great option the rest of the year.
The Gunnison Valley is one of the birthplaces of mountain biking, and the number of trails here is astounding. The Crested Butte area has more than 750 miles of singletrack for riders to enjoy. There are flat, wide trails that are easy and perfect for families with kids, and also more intense trails that are best suited for advanced and expert riders. Many of the trails start in town, so you don’t have to go far. Others are more remote and require a little effort just to get there.
There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails around Crested Butte. If you’re up for it, there’s a 10.2-mile hike that takes you from Crested Butte all the way to Aspen on the West Maroon Pass trail. Other trails go through pristine wilderness, untouched National Forests and beautiful public lands. There are close to 40 moderate-rated trails in Crested Butte that are ideal for anyone looking for a little challenge that won’t shred your legs. Most trails range from just over 2 miles to some hikes longer than a marathon. Some hikes ascend to more than 12,500 feet in elevation!

Author: Katy Mooney

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