See it All in 48 Hours: A Winter Guide to Crested Butte/Gunnison
Even if you only have 48 hours to discover it, Crested Butte has more historic Old West charm than you can shake a ski pole at. Residents work hard to maintain its flair and authenticity. One look at the snow capped Elk Mountain range and it’s easy to see why the slopes of Crested Butte enjoy legendary status as some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world.
The smorgasbord of winter fun just begins on the slopes. There’s lots to do in this winter wonderland: snowshoe & cross-country ski trails, snow tubing, ice fishing, fat biking, and an extensive web of snowmobiling trails. And did we mention dog sledding? Lets do it all in 48 hours, shall we?
To maximize time, book a stay at one of the several “ski in/ski out” accommodations that are available. Downtown and the resort are also only three miles apart so everything is easy to access.
Start your 48 hours right. Fuel up with a hearty breakfast. Caffeinate your day with Camp 4 Coffee or a more traditional sit down meal at one of the many breakfast places. Once you have a full belly, it’s time to get down to business.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is home to 1,547 skiable acres, 15 lifts, and 121 trails, so every level of skier or snowboarder is catered to with remarkable runs for everyone. One of the best aspects of Crested Butte is the way that the runs are laid out. The flow down the hill creates trails that link up, making it easy for everyone to meet up for lunch together at the Avalanche Bar & Grill for a burger or at Jefe’s to indulge in traditional Mexican food.
57% of the mountain is devoted to intermediate and expert terrain. Those who love daring, tight, technical terrain will love challenging the best steeps around within the extreme limits of inbounds, double-black diamond terrain. Wear out your legs doing laps on the High Lift and North Face T-bars with runs like Headwall, Teocalli, Spellbound, and Phoenix Bowl.
For the true adrenaline junkies, earn your bragging rights by having conquered the steepest cut ski run in North America on the sustained 50 degree pitch of Rambo‚ “where there is no shame in feeling nervous about dropping in.” Note that many of the runs in ‘the extremes’ aren’t listed on the trail map, so checking in with a local expert is the best way to find out what’s good while there. If you have the time, the resort offers free tours of the mountain.
A favorite post-mountain watering hole is the Secret Stash. Known for their unique topping combinations with names like Notorious F.I.G., Buddha’s Belly, and Steazy Ryder, it’s arguably the best pizza in Crested Butte. For a fine dining adventure with French flair, make a reservation for the Uley’s Cabin Sleigh Ride Dinner. Snuggle up with your sweetie under a cozy blanket in a horse drawn sleigh while winding through the cotton candy landscape.
Think you can keep your eyes open a little bit longer? A perennial favorite is Talk of The Town. This classic bar and is in a historic, two-story building with a jukebox, video games, giant Jenga, pool tables, and often features a DJ spinning an inspired dance party. A host of bars downtown also offer live music and there is a very active winter program of special events.
Sleep in. Just kidding, there is wayy too much to do here! Get up early to avoid the crowd and grab breakfast. We’ve got a lot to do to finish off our 48 hours right!
If you think the downhill action at Crested Butte Mountain is epic enough, brace yourself. Rent a pair of nordic skis or snowshoes and spend the morning on some of the groomed trails in the area. In the summer months Crested Butte also has a reputation as a world-class mountain biking destination, so it should come as no surprise that with the rise of fat biking, it’s making strides as a ‘go to’ location for this fledgling sport. There are a few rental options in the valley and loads of trails to explore – Big Al’s Bicycle Heaven is one of several local shops that can point you in the right direction.
For a quick bite between activities, try out the aptly named Pitas In Paradise and don’t be ashamed to order extra tzatziki sauce. This friendly restaurant has better-than-average selections for vegetarians.
It’s time to give the legs a break and let something else do the work for while. Ready to blow up Instagram during your 48 hours? Book a dog sledding lesson from one of the dog-sled tour operators in the area for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Options include a couple of hours tour or full day trips and guests can be as active as they choose. Take a thrilling ride with an experienced guide or take a lesson and learn to mush for yourself, either way making memories unlike any other. Upgrade the size of your winter transportation mammal if you’d like to explore the mountains on horseback with an outfitter.
Adrenaline seekers might prefer to rent a couple of snowmobiles and explore the wealth of pristine backcountry the Rockies are known for. It’s the most fun to be had in the snow while sitting down and a great way to collect a new mode of transportation for the bucket list. Self guided and guided tours are available.
After two days, you’ll have mountains of memories – and we bet you’ll already be scheming your next visit! Winter adventures in Gunnison Crested Butte pack in so much fun, it’s a shame that 48 hours can fly by so quickly. If you’re dreaming of steep ski runs, pristine backcountry snowshoe trails, or fat biking along winter versions of the region’s legendary trails, chances are you’ll soon find your way back to this unique Colorado playground.
Originally written by RootsRated for Crested Butte & the Gunnison Valley | The Home of Mountain Biking.