Families are funny. They have their quirks that anyone outside of the family find weird and either absolutely hilarious or just plain ole strange. If you want to make my sister’s boyfriend crack up uncontrollably, just get my brother and I into a disagreement about the color of the sky, yelling at a louder and louder pitch until I win the argument ;)
Travel is one of our families quirks. Most families love to travel, they dream of Minnie, Micky, and Magic Mountain at Disney, or white sand beach cruises. My family dreams of deserts, mountains, and dirty hiking boots. And food….always food.
Over the past 15 years that we have been traveling together, one of the two places that has become a 6th member of our family is Crested Butte, Colorado.
Writing about Crested Butte intimidates me. How in the world could I ever do this place justice? I would love to write a comprehensive guide to the town, but an entire devoted site would be required. Instead what I thought I would do is share a general guide to the Mountain town, touching on a few of it’s biggest draws.
One of the biggest draws to Crested Butte is it’s community. It is in our opinion, Crested Butte is one of the last great mountain towns in Colorado. It has as much to do, and equal if not superior beauty to Aspen and Telluride. Unlike those star studded spots however, if you were to walk down Elk ave, the main street, decked out head to toe in Louis Vitton, well, you would not quite “fit in” – not that anyone should overly concern themselves with fitting in to begin with- but you see the point.
The town of Crested Butte sits at 8,885 ft, and the mountain town, 9,200. With a population of 1,503, it is the perfect size to visitors such as our family! Locals and devotee’s have been unsettled over the past few years, as, “the Aspen crowd” has begun to move in, threatening the town’s charm, as some see it. The true future of the town, will only be known as time proceeds.
It’s true popularity occurs in the Winter ski season. Not being skiers, we have never visited during this period so I am unable to speak to that, but when the warmth of Summer comes, what I can say is that there are fewer places on earth I would rather be!
There are a plethora of hikes in and around the town of Crested Butte for all skill levels! The majority of trails are numbered as opposed to named. After 15 years, I still find the map available at, and the people at the visitor’s center to be the most efficient, consolidated source of hiking information available. We have yet to come across a book or website that offers a suitably consolidated visitor friendly overview of the area’s many trails (hello business opportunity!)
*Edited to add: Travel Crested Butte reached out to me, I had never seen their site before, but it is a wonderful resource!
Hiking Resources: (Our Favorites!)
Research trails you are interested in online, and when you get into town, stop by the visitor’s center to get a map of trails (the best I have seen) and ask any questions of the staff.
Need to know: Many of the area’s hikes are along popular mountain biking trails, so always be alert for bikers and horses!
- Website: Great Crested Butte Lodging, Travel Crested Butte
- Trail 403- Incredible views of the valleys. Hike halfway from the Washington Gulch side, and return on that same side instead of hiking all the way to the Gothic road side.
- West Maroon Train (takes you from Crested Butte to Aspen) – Have not done it yet, but it’s a bucket list item!
- Snodgrass Mountain Trial – A classic you must hike before they develop it into a ski slope!
Other Outdoor Activities
Mountains Biking is huge in Crested Butte. If you are a biker, you will love this town! Considering our mountain biking experience is minimal, I do not have any guidance here except to say that Snodgrass is a fun ride for novices, though I recommend beginning from the Gothic Road side, and finishing on the Washington Gulch side, then riding your bike into town for a fun morning ride.
Four Wheel Driving There are advanced four wheel driving roads in the area that can take you to truly incredible vistas. Having a high clearance vehicle, with four wheel drive is advised to allow you to explore many of the area’s incredible views, lakes, and activities.
Fly Fishing in town along the East, or Slate Rivers is not the West’s best. Better fishing can be found approximately 30 minutes from town along the Almont River.
Naturing I made that word up, do you like it? Crested Butte is well known for it’s annual Wildflower Festival, and has a plethora of birds and wildlife to view – bears included ;)
My favorite topic. Crested Butte is not home to a single cuisine or dish it is, “known” for, but that sure doesn’t mean it doesn’t have great eats!
- Pizza- The Secret Stash – Shoot for a table downstairs!
- Buffalo Burgers – The Wooden Nickel- Un. Real….Unreal. The Best I have ever had – and I have had a lot of buffalo burgers in my life.
- Salad- McGill’s – Margarita Salad- do it
- Ethnic- Sherpa Cafe- Tibetan/Nepalese – the most authentic ethnic cuisine I have ever had in the U.S!
- Italian – Martichelli’s Gourmet Noodle
- Coffee- Camp 4 Coffee
- Breakfast – Izzy’s
- Bar – The Eldo – If you visit Crested Butte and don’t drink a beer on the balcony….we aren’t friends. Just kidding (but seriously)
There are some hotels available in Crested Butte, but if traveling with friends or family, I highly recommend renting a house or condo. You can either stay in town or on the mountain. The benefits to town are the ease of walking to shops, dinner, and the center of town life. The benefits to staying on the mountain are proximity to the ski slopes in the winter, and swankier diggs and upgrades found in mountain condos.
Greatest Hit Summer Events
These are just a very, very, few of the great events I am qualified to recommend!
- Wildflower Festival- An annual festival drawing people from around the world to admire the area’s unparalleled wildflowers!
- Aspenglow - A weekly Summer concert Music Series which brings out the whole town to relax and mingle!
- Crested Butte Famer’s Market – Saturdays all Summer long!
- Fourth of July Festivities – Begining with a morning parade and continuing all day long!
- Annual Gothic to Crested Butte 1/3 Marathon – I had to miss this race 2 years ago due to injury, but I will be back.
Have you ever been to Crested Butte?
What are your favorite “hidden gem” towns?