Outdoors: The Last Spring Skiing at Crested Butte

April 4 2012, 4:27 PM

Why We Love It:  Phenomenal bluebird days, laid-back resort staff, and the happily secluded vibe you can only get from a non I-70 corridor mountain.

When To Go: Late March (closing date this year is April 8).

Suggested Lift: Twister Lift (take the Red Lady or Silver Queen express lifts from the base and work your way down to the Twister. Why the Twister? Because you can run laps on some of the (few) still-open black diamonds and stop between them at the outdoor Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin. This time of year, it may be more mud than ice, but the White Russians are legendary and worth the stop.

Trails To Take: Whatever you can find that’s open. As of Tuesday, just 50 percent of the Butte’s terrain is open, which is to say, mostly greens and blues. Don’t even think about any of the high terrain or bowls.

This past weekend in Crested Butte, we were met with postcard-perfect, 60-degree weather that was as prime for mountain biking or jogging as it was for skiing. We’d traveled to the picturesque mountain hamlet for a wedding, and decided to get some turns in on Saturday before the festivities that evening. We arrived at the mountain at noon-ish after a leisurely breakfast—on the good advice that hitting the slopes any time before 11 a.m. would be unwise thanks to the melt-freeze cycle instigated by the rollercoaster day-to-night temps.

After a lazy couple of runs off of the Silver Queen and Paradise lifts—no point in pushing it, as the snow was starting to get grabby (that slushy, sticky consistency that tweaks your momentum at unexpected intervals)—we settled on a sunny slope with a panoramic view to wait for some friends. We lounged with our feet up under the famous Colorado sunshine and enjoyed spring “skiing” at the Butte for all it was worth.

Getting There: From CO 470 East, take U.S. 285 South toward Fairplay for 123 miles (including the left turn at Buena Vista to stay on U.S. 285). Turn right at U.S. 50 and continue almost 60 miles to Gunnison, and turn right at CO 135/N. Main Street. Follow for about 27 miles and take a slight right on 6th Street; follow through Crested Butte and continue up the hill on Gothic Road/CO Road 317 for about three miles into Mt. Crested Butte and the ski area.