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Visit Crested Butte in Fall

Are you planning to visit Crested Butte in fall? Fall is a glorious time of year in Gunnison and Crested Butte. The mild weather and colorful fall leaves make it beautiful to be outside. Trails are in prime condition for hiking and mountain biking. Elk hunting season begins, and anglers can experience the thrill of an inland salmon run. If you just want to take in the beauty of the fall colors, there are plenty of opportunities to see fall leaves. Due to abundant aspen groves and over two million acres of public lands, the mountains around Gunnison and Crested Butte are some of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado. This guide has all the information you need for planning a fall trip to Gunnison and Crested Butte.  

a person rides a bike on downtown street

Crested Butte Fall Weather

The weather tends to be crisp and is usually mild. Fall high temperatures in Crested Butte range from the 50s to low 60s. Lows are in the 20s and 30s. September and October are usually dry and sunny, but rain and snow are also possibilities. Average fall precipitation is 2.06 inches and average snowfall is 5.5 inches. Usually, the first frost hits Crested Butte in September. The first snow usually falls at the end of October.

During fall in the Gunnison Valley, most people start hikes or bike rides later in the morning to be outside during the warmest part of the day. If you plan to camp on your fall visit to Crested Butte, bring warm gear and clothes. You might wake up to a frosty camp!

a cow in the foreground of a grove of trees and a mountain peak

What does Crested Butte look like in fall?

Check out these snapshots of Crested Butte’s fall transformation.

  • a mountain biker on a singletrack trail with a mountain peak in the background

Gunnison Fall Weather

Gunnison is usually a little warmer during fall than Crested Butte and tends to get snow later. Highs in Gunnison during September and October range in the high 50s to low 70s. Lows are in the 20s and 30s. Trails in Gunnison usually remain dry for several weeks longer than in Crested Butte. The first snow in Gunnison usually falls in late October or early November.

What does Gunnison look like in fall?

See what Gunnison looks like with changed leaves.

Where can I see fall leaves in Crested Butte?

The aspen and cottonwood leaves mostly turn yellow and gold, though you can also find red and orange leaves. Colors usually peak in mid-late September, and the leaves drop off the trees in late October or early November. Checking local forecasts and foliage trackers can help you time your trip with the peak colors.

Where do aspens grow?

Aspens grow between 5,000 and 12,000 feet in elevation. Aspens have smooth white bark and quaking leaves, giving them the nickname “quakies.” They grow in groups that are clones of each other. You can tell which trees are clones because their leaves turn at the same time.

a thick grove of trees

Is there wildlife viewing in Crested Butte in fall?

Bears, eagles, elk and other small game are active in the fall. Bears become more aggressive in the fall as they prepare for hibernation. Making noise while hiking, such as talking or carrying bells, can help avoid a bear encounter. Bald eagles are winter residents in the Gunnison Valley and migrate here in the fall. They can often be spotted along the Gunnison and East Rivers. Ungulate animals such as elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep are on the move in the fall because of the rut and hunting season. There are also moose in the Gunnison Valley, though seeing them is not as common as elk or deer. Watch out for these animals on the roads. You might also hear elk bugling early in the morning because of the rut.

A bald eagle sits on a tree branch

Where are the best places to see fall leaves in Crested Butte and Gunnison?

Kebler Pass

Kebler Pass is home to one of the largest aspen groves in the U.S. The trees here are massive in height and width. Driving, hiking and biking all common activities on Kebler Pass. Mountain biking trails include the Dyke Trail and Kebler Wagon Trail 606. A few hiking trails include Three Lakes Loop, Dark Canyon Trail and Marcellina Pass Loop. Gravel bikers also take to Kebler Pass because the mag-chloride-coated road offers a smooth ride.


Pitkin is another great place to see fall leaves. Pitkin is located east of Gunnison, offering easy access to Gunnison National Forest and Fossil Ridge Wilderness. There are many things to do in Pitkin that also serve as opportunities to enjoy fall colors. Hop on your gravel bike and ride Cumberland Pass from Pitkin to Tincup. This ride has amazing views of the Sawatch Range. You can also e-bike and take 4×4 vehicles on Cumberland Pass.

Things to do in fall in Crested Butte

When you visit Crested Butte in fall, the weather is usually clear and cool. Hiking, mountain biking, gravel biking or a scenic drive are good ways to see fall leaves and enjoy the weather. Fall is also hunting season and a great time of year for fly fishing.

Fall mountain biking in Crested Butte

Fall mountain biking allows you to enjoy the beautiful Colorado fall foliage on some of the best MTB trails in the world. Most of the best fall mountain biking in the Gunnison Valley is in Crested Butte. One of the best areas for fall mountain biking in Crested Butte is Brush Creek. Popular fall trails in Brush Creek include Deer Creek, Teocalli Ridge and Strand Hill.

a mountain biker on a trail lined with tall aspen trees
Two people and two dogs hike on a trail in the fall

Fall hiking in Crested Butte

Hiking is one of the best ways to see fall foliage. Read about the best fall hikes in Crested Butte and Gunnison to plan your next hike. Crested Butte fall hikes include Trail #403, Green Lake and Judd Falls. Fall hikes in Gunnison include Beaver Ponds and Mill-Castle.

Fall Scenic Drives in Crested Butte

If you’re short on time or can’t hike or bike, a scenic drive is an excellent way to see fall colors. There are two Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways in the Gunnison Valley, along with other scenic mountain passes. Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways in the Gunnison Valley include the West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway and the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.

A sweeping scene of hillsides covered in trees with leaves that have changed to fall colors
Three people ride gravel bikes on a path lined by fall trees

Fall Gravel Biking in Crested Butte

The Gunnison Valley has thousands of miles of gravel roads for gravel biking. A few gravel biking routes include Maggie Pass, Ohio City to Taylor Park and Waunita Pass. There are Gunnison gravel bike rides at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, too. Lily Lake and Paradise Divide are two gravel rides in Crested Butte.

Fall hunting in Crested Butte

Fall is elk hunting season. The Gunnison Valley has three game management units (GMU): GMU 54, GMU 55 and GMU 67. Learn more about hunting and start planning a Colorado elk hunting trip.

A silhouetted hunter walking on a grassy path in front of mountain peaks
A fly fisherman casting his rod in the river

Fall fishing in Crested Butte

The kokanee salmon run on the Gunnison River is a unique reason to plan a fall fly fishing trip to the Gunnison Valley. Outside of traveling to Alaska, this is one of the only places in the U.S. to experience a salmon run. The run’s peak is usually mid-September. Plan a fishing trip during this time to enjoy the fall leaves and weather.

Other things to do in fall in Crested Butte and Gunnison

Looking for other fall activities in the Gunnison Valley? Visit the arts centers in Gunnison and Crested Butte for classes, kids programs, and live music. Check out the Trailhead Children’s Museum in Crested Butte for even more kid-friendly activities. Immerse yourself in local history at the Crested Butte Museum and the Gunnison Pioneer Museum. Browse local art at galleries in downtown Crested Butte or Gunnison. For a relaxing activity, soak in Waunita Hot Springs east of Gunnison. Don’t forget to check the events calendar to see what else is going on while you’re in town!

Fall Activities at Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) operates a downhill bike park in the summer. The bike park has 30+ miles of lift-served singletrack available for mountain bikers of all abilities. Kiddos can get outside at the Adventure Park. The Adventure Park has rock walls, a bungee jump trampoline and a gem panning activity. The bike park and the Adventure Park are open from June to September. At the beginning of September, they are open Monday-Friday. In mid-month hours go down to Friday-Sunday.

a mountain scene of a rock formation that looks like a castle

Fall photography in Crested Butte

Photographers will have an abundance of beautiful scenes to capture in Crested Butte. Many of the best places to take photos in the Gunnison Valley are even more stunning in the fall.

Fall stewardship in Crested Butte

Practicing trail stewardship is an important way to ensure we can continue enjoying the outdoors in Crested Butte and Gunnison. Please be respectful and follow trail etiquette when hiking, hiking, and taking photos. Stay on the trail and do not disturb wildlife and plants.  Make sure you pull off the road safely if you want to stop for pictures or look at trees on a scenic drive. It might be tempting to leave your mark on an aspen tree when you visit Crested Butte in fall, but carving into them harms them. Please avoid this, even if the tree already has marks on it. Only camp in designated camping areas, clean your campsite up when you leave and fully extinguish all fires. Read about the different stewardship organizations in the Gunnison Valley if you want to learn more about stewardship or become involved.

a mountain biker on a trail through a grove of aspens

Fall events in Crested Butte and Gunnison

There are several annual fall events to attend in Crested Butte and Gunnison. Some include Chili and Beer Festival, the Gunni Grinder, the Crested Butte Film Festival and opening day at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Halloween in Crested Butte

Crested Butte is home to the bar scene in the Gunnison Valley. Many of the bars on Elk Avenue have Halloween events. Most of these events feature live music and a costume contest. Bring your A-game! Crested Butte can, and usually does, turn every event in town into a costume party. Interested in learning more about the Gunnison Valley’s spooky past? Check out this blog about haunted places in Crested Butte and Gunnison.   

a downtown street lined with trees with changed leaves

Are restaurants open in Crested Butte and Gunnison in fall?

Restaurants in mountain towns often take breaks in spring and fall, which are usually less busy than summer and winter. If you plan to visit Crested Butte in the fall, keep in mind that many restaurants and businesses close or have limited hours in late fall and early winter. Call ahead to check hours and make reservations. Most restaurants open back up during Thanksgiving week, which is usually when Crested Butte Mountain Resort opens for the ski season. Most restaurants in Gunnison stay open year-round.

Planning your fall trip to Crested Butte and Gunnison

Ready to visit Crested Butte in fall? This trip itinerary can help you start planning a fall weekend trip to Gunnison and Crested Butte. Browse places to stay and things to do and book flights with our trip planning guide.

Other seasons to visit in Colorado

The Gunnison Valley has four distinct seasons. Each one brings different scenery and things to do. Learn more about winter, spring and summer in the Gunnison Valley. 

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