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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.