When you visit Crested Butte in spring, you’ll witness a time of change in the Gunnison Valley. From March to June, the valley transforms from a snow-covered winter wonderland to an emerald-green paradise. It’s a quiet time of year in Crested Butte, where you’ll encounter few other visitors. The spring lull is less pronounced in Gunnison, which attracts mountain bikers eager to hit the trails at Hartman Rocks. Boaters of all types seek out high water on the Gunnison Valley’s creeks and rivers during spring runoff.
Spring brings dry trails and high-desert blooms to the rolling, sage-covered hills of Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. Hartman’s is the first spot in the Gunnison Valley to dry out in spring. The exact opening date changes every year—it depends how quickly the snow melts. It can be as early as mid-March, or as late as early June. Follow Gunnison Trails on Instagram for updates.
When Hartman Rocks does open, locals and visitors alike flock there to take advantage of prime mountain biking conditions. Spring snowmelt keeps the trails tacky, and spring weather in sunny Gunnison is often ideal for riding.
Spring in the mountains is sometimes referred to as “mud season.” Snow melts, turning trails and walkways to muck. Never travel on a muddy trail. If you encounter an isolated patch of mud or a puddle, ride or hike through it rather than around it. This reduces the impact on the land surrounding the trail.
Plan your route in advance to avoid mud. The best way to do this is to check Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association’s trail conditions report, which is updated frequently in spring. Stick to trails listed as dry.
Mountain bikers who make the pilgrimage to Gunnison in spring need to be aware of annual trail closures during this season. The Signal Peak trail system and the south side of Hartman’s are affected by spring wildlife closures. Here’s everything you need to know about spring trail restrictions.
Late March – early April
April and May
The best spring activities in Gunnison revolve around the rivers and public lands surrounding Gunnison. As mentioned, spring is prime time to go mountain biking, hiking or climbing at Hartman Rocks. Boaters will get a thrill from rafting and kayaking the spring runoff on the Class III rapids of the Taylor River and the Class I-III Gunnison River.
Kayakers from far and wide visit Crested Butte each spring for the runoff on the steep creeks surrounding Crested Butte. Only experts should venture into these Class IV and V rapids.
On average, Crested Butte receives abundant snowfall in March and April. Spring skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort is always cause for a party. Many skiers also choose to explore the backcountry during this season. As always, backcountry skiers should seek out avalanche safety courses and utilize all available avalanche forecast resources before exploring backcountry ski terrain.
Spring temperatures in Crested Butte vary widely and change quickly. Average lows can be anywhere from single digits to the high twenties. Average high temperatures fluctuate from the high thirties to the high fifties.
Average low temperatures in Gunnison during spring range from the high teens to the mid-thirties. Average high temperatures range from the low forties to the mid-sixties..
Be ready for anything from clear, sunny weather to snowstorms. Pack lots of layers and a range of options in case the weather shifts. Check the weather forecast frequently to avoid getting caught outside in inclement conditions. As with any season in Colorado, sunscreen is a must.
Check live weather cams for real-time weather conditions in Gunnison, Crested Butte, Highway 50, Highway 135 and more.
Nonstop flights from Texas and Denver serve Gunnison-Crested Butte Airport year-round. Flights may be reduced in spring. Check our Getting Here page for full flight schedules.
Free public buses transport people around the Gunnison Valley. To learn more about local buses, check out our public transportation page.
Due to light visitation in spring, lodging is plentiful and sometimes cheaper this time of year. From 12-bedroom mansions on the mountainside to cozy cabins on the river, there’s a huge variety of places to stay in Crested Butte and Gunnison.
In early spring, Crested Butte Nordic puts on The Grand Traverse, a ski mountaineering race between Crested Butte and Aspen. This race kicks off at midnight during a notorious party called Disco Inferno. Another spring ski race is the Al Johnson Memorial, a telemark ski race held on some of the ski area’s steepest terrain.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort closes in early April. End-of-season celebrations often include live music.
Commencement at Western Colorado University is held in mid-May. Planning to cheer on a graduate? Make a Gunnison hotel reservation well in advance.
Over Memorial Day weekend, mountain bikers head to Gunnison from all over the world to compete in Gunnison Trails‘ Original Growler, a grueling race that loops Hartman Rock’s famous singletrack trails.
Spring activities and trip itineraries for when you visit Crested Butte in spring.