Where to ski, board, stay, eat, drink, shop, play, and buy real estate in Colorado's best mountain towns.
Tucked in the Gunnison Valley, this old-school mining town has a split personality. Crested Butte is where the tight-knit locals live on compact streets loaded with Victorians. At the base of the ski resort is the historic town’s alter ego, Mount Crested Butte, home to the much-newer ski village and lodging. Crested Butte is one place where you’d do best to quietly blend in, as the hard-charging locals aren’t fond of flashy tourists. As for the slopes, the skiing is targeted toward experts (think super steep and super narrow), so beginners might be wise to look elsewhere.
SKI Sun-chasing intermediates should start the morning off basking in the light of East River Lift on Black Eagle Run; in the afternoon, ride the Twister Lift for gorgeous bumps. Experts will find epic terrain packed into the nooks and crannies—for sure hits, take the North Face Poma Lift and ski the trees next to Teocalli Bowl. At the bottom, hike up about 10 minutes and hang a right, and sidestep out to Spellbound and Third Bowl for a bonus round. Just be careful and watch for the cliffs. Seriously.
STAY Rooms at the slope-side Elevation Hotel and Spa start at $275; if you’re looking for a hotel with modern amenities, it’s the finest place in town (500 Gothic Road, elevationhotelandspa.com). Crested Butte is loaded with beautiful homes that have been converted into cute B&B’s; we like the downtown locations of The Ruby of Crested Butte (624 Gothic Ave., therubyofcrestedbutte.com, starting at $149) and the Purple Mountain B&B and Spa (714 Gothic Ave., purplemountainlodge.com, starting at $119).
EAT Avalanche Bar & Grill offers hearty breakfast skillets and juicy burgers for lunch and dinner (15 Emmons Road, avalanchebarandgrill.com). For an upscale meal, try the exquisite tapas at Django’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in Mountaineer Square (620 Gothic Road, djangos.us).
DRINK Originally a rustic miner’s home, the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin was transformed in 2008 into a dark, modern lair with house-infused liquors, custom cocktails, and a comfy lounge area (309 Third St., thedogwoodcocktailcabin.com). The Princess Wine Bar offers live music nightly alongside the gorgeous wood bar and a cozy fireplace (218 Elk Ave., 970-349-0210).
SHOP Locals love backcountry shop The Alpineer for its extensive selection of outdoor clothing and accessories (419 Sixth St., alpineer.com). Decades-old Zachariah Zypp Co. remains the go-to spot for authentic Western silver jewelry (317 Elk Ave., 970-349-5913). The town’s bus depot pulls double duty by also housing Paragon Gallery, a co-op with jewelry, art, and great home goods (132 Elk Ave., paragongallery.org).
BUY IN Updated Victorians or newer, Craftsman-style homes in the town of Crested Butte will start at $800,000; if you’re looking for a more ski-in/ski-out option, condos on Mount Crested Butte run about $500,000.
DON'T MISS Ever ogled the massive treads of a snowcat? Learn how to drive one at the Crested Butte Snowcat Driving Experience, with a one-on-one lesson from one of the mountain’s grooming guys (skicb.com). If that’s a little too hands-on, grab a cup of cocoa and hop on board for the Ice Bar Sleigh Ride Dinner—a snowcat ride to a four-course meal at Ulyes Cabin (skicb.com).