CRESTED BUTTE RESORT GUIDE
Images courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Crested Butte Resort Overview
Crested Butte (CB, as the locals call it) is the kind of place where shops close on big powder days! That's telling about where most ‘Buttians’ hearts lie and goes a long way to explain how it can be laid back AND one of the most challenging ski areas. CB is the birthplace of U.S. Extreme skiing and 35% of terrain is rated Double Black. ‘Rambo,’ is the steepest 'cut' slope in the U.S. and ‘Body Bag,’ is where the Extreme Championships are hosted. Most of the Extreme terrain is accessed by a couple of T-bars. Don't worry though, the lower slopes offer plenty for Beginners and Intermediates. The ski school has leading instructors for all levels (including an Olympic medalist!).
CB is more remote than most Colorado ski resorts, but upon arrival, you'll quickly see why it's well worth the trek. CB packs a big punch for a small mountain. Though the Base Area is limited entertainment-wise, take the free, colorfully painted buses to reach the town of CB, 15 minutes down the hill. Here you'll find more than 30 restaurants, a charming, historic walkable town and a community that knows how to have fun — CB really is "the last great Colorado ski town!"
The Epic Pass is the season pass for Crested Butte. The Epic Local Pass provides 5 days at Crested Butte. The Epic Keystone - Crested Butte 4 Pack offers great value for 4 days between the two resorts.
Snow-Making & Grooming
On Mountain Dining
Extreme / Off-Piste Terrain
No frills, no attitude. Just pure skiing and riding
Mid-week lift lines are never an issue. The harder to reach location keeps day-trippers away
Eat well and enjoy the variety. From pizza at Secret Stash, latkes & bagels at Butte Bagels (formerly Izzy's), gourmet French at Soupcon, to farm to table at Sunflower
For experts and thrill seekers, CB is home to some of the best extreme terrain in the nation. It's hard to imagine how steep and rocky it is — so have a look here
A real, historic town, bristling with friendliness and very pedestrain friendly
Travel logistics are challenging (a 5+ hour drive from Denver and the closer, regional airports have limited flights)
Intermediate shredders should be wary; easier terrain is somewhat limited with a steep transition from Intermediate to Advanced
Snowboarders beware, a lot of the extremes require long traverses
Relatively shorter season. The extremes usually don't open until after the New Year
High altitude living (the town of CB town is at 9,000 ft) — if you suffer from altitude sickness, think twice
New to CB? Join an Advanced group lesson — chances are it will feel like a private lesson and be the fastest way to discover the secret spots and extremes. Alternatively, contact guest services to join a free discovery tour of the mountain
Fancy some deep powder, snow cat skiing? Try Irwin Guides - they sometimes have last minute deals if there's room on the cat!
Hit the chutes in the afternoon when the snow is best. We recommend Banana, Funnel and Peel on the lookers right of the Forest Queen Lift. Don't miss 3rd Bowl if it's open (just save some energy for the hike out)
Choose from a wide range of accommodations; for the atmosphere, stay in the town of Crested Butte (10 - 15 minutes down the road) and use the free buses to the mountain (~every 20 mins). There are a couple of hotels with all inclusive packages on the mountain or, if on a budget, consider a slope side condo
Buttians love the Backcountry. Gear is available at the Alpineer (in town) and guided tours from Colorado Backcountry, owned and run by local guides Ben & Janae Pritchett, are one of the best and safest ways to experience it
For an in-depth breakdown of Crested Butte's terrain, head to our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included.
Getting To & Around
A car is not necessary if staying within the CB area. The drive from Denver takes 5+ hours and can be arduous. It's easier to fly to Gunnison and take the shuttle, but Gunnison is at 8,000 ft and often impacted by weather. Alternatively, fly to Montrose, and rent a car for the 1.5 hour trip.
Closest Major City: Denver, CO
Distance: ~250 miles South West
Travel Time: ~ 5 hours drive
Closest Airport: Gunnison, CO
~30 miles, ~40 minute drive
Serviced by United from Denver & Houston and by American from Dallas during the winter
Crested Butte is part of the Elk Mountains Range of the Rocky Mountains. There is not much in the immediate vicinity; the closest resorts on the I-70 corridor are more than 3 hours away.
Monarch Mountain, CO (~75 miles, ~1.5 hours)
Powderhorn, CO (~160 miles, ~3 hrs, 15 mins)
"Neighbors" on the Epic Pass
Travel by Plane
Closest major commercial airport: DEN (Denver International)
~250 miles North East, ~5 hours
Regional airport: GUC (Gunnison Regional - Crested Butte Airport)
~30 miles South, ~40 minutes
Next closest regional airport: MTJ (Montrose Regional Airport)
~95 mi South West, 1.5 hours
Private planes can also come into / out of GUC and MTJ
Travel By Bus
The Mountain Express runs free shuttles from the town of CB to the mountain
Shuttles run every 15 minutes from 7am to 10pm; every 30 minutes from 10pm - 12am
Airport shuttle services is available to / from GUC, MTJ and DEN
Contact Alpine Express; group shuttles from GUC and MTJ, private charters from DEN
Travel by Car
Cars are not needed if staying in Crested Butte.
Pros: Parking is free in CB town and provies flexiblity to visit other ski areas and travel to and from airport
Cons: Roads can be treacherous, parking in town is limited, and parking at the mountain is paid only
Ride shares: (e.g., Uber, Lyft) are quite limited here