Prior to my recent visit, I have been to Crested Butte four times in the past. Once as a day trip from Aspen and another was to spend the night before hiking from Crested Butte to Aspen. The town is located in Southwest Colorado, 28 miles north of the City of Gunnison. I find it to be a very quiet, charming town with great Victorian architecture. Most of the buildings are from the late 1800’s when it was a bustling coal mining town. It is the eighth largest historic district in the state of Colorado. One of my favorite things to do is to walk the side streets and the alleys, where you will see some charming houses, builings and old cabins.
Situated at an elevation of 8,909 feet, it is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery. The population is today approximately 1,700 people. From Aspen you drive over the McClure Pass to the Kebler Pass. You drive through one of the largest stands of Aspen trees in the country which is really spectacular. In late September when all of the Aspens are a brilliant yellow, it is considered one of Colorado’s Best Fall Drives.
From the east, you can drive over Cottonwood Pass from Buena Vista or Monarch Pass from Salida. The closest airport if located approximate 30 miles south at the Gunnison Crested Butte Regional Airport. Montrose Regional Airport is another option, but the drive is two hours to town. Kebler Pass and Cottonwood Pass are unpaved in many areas so they are not open in the winter months.
Local residents and visitors enjoy skiing, hiking, biking and an array of outdoor activities. The ski area resort is in Mt. Crested Butte, three miles north of town. There are many hiking and biking trails to choose from. I loved my choice of the Lower Loop Trail which is close to town and offers stunning views of the mountains and the Slate River along with beautiful wildflowers. It is a rather easy trail for both hikers and bikers. You can driveup the dirt road to the parking area near Peanut Lake It reminded me of the Ditch Trail in Snowmass Village, CO which is one of my favorites there.
In addition, there are numerous events and festivals such as the Wildflower Festival in July, since it is considered the wildflower capital of Colorado. In addition there is a fun New Year’s Eve celebration, Winter Carnival in January, Mardi Gras celebration, Slushuck or the wacky Spring ski celebration, the Fourth of July Parade and the zany town festival in April known as Flaushink, where people Burn the Grump along with the bad things they want to rid themselves of.
Other annual events in town include:
Annual Alpenglow Summer Concert Series
Crested Butte Film Festival in September
The Crested Butte Wine + Food Festival
Cattlemen’s Days is held in nearby Gunnison in July, with parades, concerts, dancing, a horse show, rodeo events, horse races and cowboy poetry.
Crested Butte Arts Festival is one of the best festivals. It features world class fine artists, food trucks, music and dance along with family friendly activities.
Mt. Crested Butte Chili & Beer Festival in September.
Crested Butte Mountain Theatre at the Mallardi Cabaret Theatre.
The Center for the Arts is a beautiful arts center which features performances like the Alpenglow free summer concert series, music, film, lectures, writing workshops, food and wine classe, childrens programs along with art classes and art exhibitions. I went to a lecture sponsored by the High Country Conservation Associates.
There are a number of art galleries downtown that you will enjoy visiting. A local friend recommended the Shaun Horne Gallery. Shaun Horn is a local plein air painter focusing on the landscapes around Crested Butte. His wife, Dawn Cohen, also paints attractive landscapes.418 Elk Ave. They also sponsor the Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational, where a number of artists are invited to come to spend the summer in order to paint and show their work.
Redline Gallery: At 439 Elk Ave., this is another excellent gallery. I really liked their ceramic pieces.
The Crested Butte Museum at 331 Elk Ave. is worth a visit to learn about the history and traditions of the area. They also feature events, walking tours historic pub crawls and live music.
Many residents of Aspen enjoy hiking from Maroon Bells to Crested Butte, from Crested Butte to Maroon Bells or both ways. It was a wonderful day hike of about six hours with spectacular scenery.
Crested Butte is a vibrant, colorful and fun-loving place to visit year round. Locals and visitors join together in any excuse to celebrate nature and life! Residents have a long history of trying to restrict mining in order to protect the environment and maintain the beauty of the area.