Can you feel the chill in the air? Winter is coming and if you love snow sports and live in the Crested Butte area, you are getting pretty excited to see the white stuff! Winter in Crested Butte is magical. Crested Butte has been voted “The Last Great Ski Town,” meaning it is still authentic, unspoiled, un-commercial and not too glitzy. On top of that, it is an absolute paradise for winter sports of all kinds.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is the local ski area, known for its fantastic extreme terrain, yet offering plenty of beginner/intermediate trails for all levels. While an adult lift ticket will set you back more than $100, there are plenty of package deals available with local lodging establishments and if you stay “down valley” in the Almont or Gunnison areas, you’ll save huge on lodging. If you’re up for a drive, you will find Monarch ski area just an hour from Gunnison. This is a smaller, “locals area” with great terrain and all natural powder that will last the entire day. The lift tickets and food are affordable and parking is free. There are unlimited options for backcountry skiing throughout the county so contact one of the local shops and get your skins out for all kinds of adventures!
Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing
The Crested Butte Nordic Center offers over 50 km of world class groomed trails. Trails are open to classic and skate skiers as well as snowshoes. Gliding through the peace and quiet of a true winter wonderland is magical. On Sundays, ski out to a yurt for hot drinks, alcoholic beverages and some brunch items. For families, it is a great option as kids’ passes and rentals are free. Yes, that’s right – FREE! Throughout the county, there are many trails that are not groomed and don’t require passes. They offer equally spectacular scenery and uncrowded trails. Try Mill Creek, Spring Creek or Lottis Creek trails.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the fat bikes are growing in popularity and Crested Butte now hosts the Fat Bike World Championships. You’ve seen them – the bikes with big, fat, squishy tires meant to ride on top of the snow. While the bikers and Nordic skiers often fight for use of the same trails, there are growing areas for just fat bikes to use. Rentals are also available in Crested Butte.
If motorized sports are more your speed, then try out a guided or unguided snowmobile tour of the area. There are miles of backcountry areas open to snowmobiles and it’s a popular destination for some of the Colorado clubs. Whether you bring your own, or rent one, this is a great way to see some of the winter backcountry.
For a unique winter experience, try a dog sledding tour into the Gunnison National Forest. On these guided tours, you can either snuggle up in the sled and enjoy the ride or learn about dog handling, harnessing and driving your own team! Half day and all day tours are offered near Crested Butte.
Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride
Go for a horse drawn sleigh ride through the snow in the Almont area, just 25 minutes from Crested Butte. This tour comes complete with warm blankets and hot chocolate!
Crested Butte Mountain Resort: www.skicb.com
Monarch Mountain: www.skimonarch.com
Crested Butte Nordic Center: www.cbnordic.org
The Alpineer – Crested Butte outdoor retail shop: www.alpineer.com
Horse Drawn Sleigh: www.fantasyranchoutfitters.com/
For Lodging: Check out Three Rivers Resort in Almont, just 25 minutes from Crested Butte and walking distance to the free shuttle bus. Ski ‘n Stay Packages start from $64 per person if booked prior to December 31st. Choose from a variety of cabin styles, including some with hot tubs on the Taylor River. www.3riversresort.com