A bridge on Highway 50 is closed, affecting travel to Gunnison from the west. Click here for more info.

Visit Crested Butte in spring

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.

Brice Shirbach rides MTB down a steep, rocky trail in Gunnison, Colorado during spring.

Mountain biking season in Gunnison

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.

Mud season in Colorado

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.

Seasonal trail closures

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.

Off-season in Crested Butte

After the ski area closes in early April, many downtown Crested Butte businesses follow suit. Check the business’s website ahead of your visit to make sure they are open. A few Gunnison businesses also reduce hours, but overall, downtown Gunnison functions normally in spring.

Granite rock formations with blue mountain ridges in the background.

Gunnison Valley spring timeline

Late March – early April

  • Ski area closes
  • Hartman Rocks may open

April and May

  • Low numbers of visitors
  • Some Crested Butte businesses close
  • Spring runoff causes rivers to rise

June

  • Weather warms up
  • High-elevation trails thaw out
  • Wildflower blooms begin
A skier in a costume skis down a groomed slope towards the pond skim at CBMR.

What does Gunnison look like in spring?

Spring scenery in Gunnison, Colorado and nearby.

  • Two people ride mountain bikes at Hartman Rocks in spring.
  • Whitewater rafting on the Taylor River near Almont, Colorado.
  • Lupine near Gunnison, Colorado
  • The Castles, Gunnison Colorado
  • Green leaves and white flowers adorn the trees in downtown Gunnison on a spring day.

What does Crested Butte look like in spring?

Spring brings snowmelt and early season wildflowers to Crested Butte, Colorado.

  • A snowboarder skims across the pond at Crested Butte on a sunny closing day.
  • A mountain peak with a green field in the foreground
  • Two backcountry skiers skin up a gentle slope where the snow is covered in sparkly hoar frost. A snow-covered peak towers in the background.
  • A couple sits on a trailside bench on a mostly sunny spring day in Crested Butte.
  • Purple lupine wildflowers against a backdrop of the snow-covered peak of Crested Butte.
  • The Al Johnson race in Crested Butte, Colorado.
  • A bike leans against a wooden fence during mud season in Crested Butte.
  • Yellow spring wildflowers bloom in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Spring activities in Gunnison

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.

Spring activities in Crested Butte

Whitewater kayaking

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.

Spring skiing

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.

What is the weather like in Colorado in spring?

Crested Butte spring weather

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.

Gunnison spring weather

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..

What to wear in Colorado during spring

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.

Weather cameras

Check live weather cams for real-time weather conditions in Gunnison, Crested Butte, Highway 50, Highway 135 and more.

Two mule deer graze on emerald green grass with snow-capped Gothic Mountain in the background in Crested Butte, Colorado in spring.

Gunnison flights and transportation

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.

Gunnison Valley lodging

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. 

Spring events 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.

Other seasons to visit Colorado

The Gunnison Valley has four distinct seasons. Learn more about summer, fall and winter. Each time of year offers different scenery and things to do.

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