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Crested Butte Winter Vacation

Winter 2021-2022 is just a few months away, and that means it’s time to start planning your Colorado winter vacation and ski trip to Crested Butte and Gunnison. You’ve probably heard of the epic extreme terrain at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, but we’ll also fill you in on activities, tips and fun facts about everything the Gunnison Valley has to offer. Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, this corner of Colorado has all the winter adventures you’re looking for.

Why should I visit Crested Butte and Gunnison in winter?

Skiing and snowboarding are the main reasons most people visit the Gunnison Valley during winter. Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) is a skier’s paradise. It is famous for its steep extreme terrain, but the mountain also has plenty of beginner and intermediate runs, too. Downtown Crested Butte and Elk Avenue is full of great restaurants, shops, hotels and nightlife. The city of Gunnison is less than 30 miles south of Crested Butte on Highway 135. Gunnison is a laid-back town with its own excellent array of dining options and affordable hotels. Gunnison is home to Western Colorado University.

A woman skis through powder at Crested Butte.

What is there to do in Crested Butte in winter?

There are many winter activities to choose from in Crested Butte. It wouldn’t be Colorado without skiing, and there’s no shortage of that in Crested Butte. There’s the famously fun downhill skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. For a wilderness experience, try nordic skiing, either on groomed trails at Crested Butte Nordic or other trails throughout the valley. Backcountry skiing is also a popular activity in Crested Butte. Elk Avenue, the main drag in the town of Crested Butte, is the hub of the apres scene.

What is there to do in Gunnison in winter?

With excellent access to some of Colorado’s most scenic and remote public lands, Gunnison is a hub for outdoor recreation of many kinds. Try snowshoeing, hiking, fat biking or cross-country skiing on the dozens of groomed trails and roads at Hartman Rocks. Anglers will enjoy ice fishing on Blue Mesa Reservoir or winter fly fishing on the Gunnison River or the Taylor River. Downtown Gunnison is home to restaurants, bars, coffee shops and art galleries.

How do I drive to Crested Butte?

If you’re coming from Colorado, Crested Butte is about a 4.5-hour drive from Denver or the Front Range via Highway 285 and Highway 50.

Are there flights from Texas to Gunnison in winter?

If you’re coming from outside of Colorado, check out United’s direct flights from Houston (IAH) and Dallas (DFW) to Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport GUC.

Are there flights from Denver to Gunnison in winter?

United offers service from Denver (DEN) to Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC). Spend less time traveling and more time skiing with this convenient short flight.

How do I get to Crested Butte?

Visit our Getting Here page for more information on Crested Butte and Gunnison driving directions, flights, shuttles, road conditions and more.

Restaurants in downtown Crested Butte with snow.

Why should I ski at Crested Butte Mountain Resort?

Crested Butte Mountain Resort, or CBMR for short, is the quintessential Colorado ski area. The resort, which has been open since 1961, is famous for its many technical double-black runs. 32% of the terrain on the mountain is rated as expert. Not an expert? Don’t worry! With 18% of the runs being beginner, 29% intermediate and 21% advanced, there is plenty of terrain for every ability level.

What are some stats for Crested Butte Mountain Resort?

There are 15 lifts at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, including surface lifts (“magic carpets”), high-speed lifts and T-bars. The back bowls, including Teocalli, Phoenix and Spellbound, can be accessed by hiking. There are 121 trails spread over 1,547 acres. CBMR runs a snowmaking operation from late fall to early winter. The average natural snowfall for the mountain is 234 inches per year. The elevation of the Crested Butte base area is 9,375’ and the peak is 12,162’.

Where should I go nordic skiing in Crested Butte and Gunnison?

If you enjoy running or hiking, you’ll probably enjoy nordic skiing, too. Nordic skiing, also known as cross-country skiing, is a fun way to explore the many miles of winter trails around the Gunnison Valley. Several shops in Crested Butte and Gunnison rent out nordic skis, boots and poles. Trails and roads are groomed at Hartman Rocks, Crested Butte Nordic and Black Canyon National Park. For more of a wilderness experience, check out trails like Mill-Castle, or back roads like Slate River Road and Cement Creek Road.

Where should I go fat biking in Crested Butte and Gunnison?

Fat biking is another way to explore the winter trail systems around the Gunnison Valley. Fat bike rentals are available at several shops in Gunnison and Crested Butte. Fat bikes are permitted on some nordic trails, but not all. Research before you go, and read all trail signs to make sure you are riding on a trail that allows fat bikes. Be courteous and keep the trails in good condition by not riding over the classic ski tracks.

A man rides a fat bike through snow at Hartman Rocks.

Where should I stay in Crested Butte?

There is a wide variety of lodging options in Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. For slopeside and ski-in, ski-out hotels, look no further than Mt. Crested Butte. Condos, houses and hotels are all available just steps from the slopes. For an eclectic experience, stay in Crested Butte at a bed-and-breakfast or a quaint lodge.

Where should I stay in Gunnison?

Gunnison is home to several affordable and convenient hotels. Gunnison is an easy 45-minute drive from Crested Butte Mountain Resort. A unique option is to stay in the tiny town of Almont. Almont is just 30 minutes from Crested Butte and offers riverside cabin rentals and traditional hotel rooms.

Crested Butte vs. Aspen

Crested Butte and Aspen are only about 15 miles away from each other as the crow flies. During summer, hiking trails and dirt roads connect the two towns. In the winter, due to the seasonal closure of Kebler Pass, the two towns are about a 4.5-hour drive away from one another via Highway 50, Highway 33 and Highway 82. Aspen Snowmass is on the Ikon Pass, whereas Crested Butte is on the Epic Pass. Check out our comparison of Crested Butte and Aspen in summer.

Crested Butte vs. Telluride

Telluride is about 3.5 hours away from Crested Butte by car via Highway 50, Highway 550 and Highway 62. Both towns are located at the literal end of the road. The highway in Telluride terminates in the famous box canyon. In Crested Butte, the road ends where the mountains begin. The two ski areas are similar, with plentiful expert runs and hike-to terrain. Both Telluride Ski Resort and Crested Butte Mountain Resort are on the Epic Pass.

Crested Butte vs. Vail

Crested Butte and Vail Ski Resort are both on the Epic Pass. Vail and Crested Butte are about a 3.5-hour drive from each other via Highway 50, Highway 24 and I-70. The two resorts were both founded in the ‘60s. Vail Ski Resort is much larger than Crested Butte but slightly lower in elevation. Vail sees a huge number of daily skiers and snowboarders due to its location along the busy I-70 corridor.

Crested Butte vs. Breckenridge

Breckenridge Ski Resort is also on the Epic Pass. Breck, as it’s sometimes called, also hosts a large number of skiers and snowboarders due to its proximity to I-70. The mountain is famous for its terrain parks. The town of Breckenridge is situated at 9,600’ in comparison to the town of Crested Butte’s 8,880’. The two towns are about three hours away from each other.

Why should I go to Crested Butte for my 2022 winter vacation?

The Gunnison Valley is the perfect place to get a dose of Colorado adventure. The mountain’s legendary extreme terrain combined with the cozy, snow-globe qualities of downtown Gunnison and Crested Butte makes this beautiful part of Colorado the ideal place to escape from the real world.

Author: Katy Mooney

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