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Crested Butte Ski Resort is a hidden gem buried in the world-renowned Rocky Mountain Range. The resort offers comfortable hotels, satisfying restaurants, virtually non-existent crowds, superb snow conditions, a lift service ski vertical of 2,775ft, mountain gear shopping, and excellent off-piste backcountry skiing. This location is a must-visit ski destination for experts, families, and new skiers.

While skiing here, wear about fifty ski clothing liners, as it is cold! The temperature during the winter rarely surpasses freezing, but this allows for all-season pristine snow conditions. Crested Butte’s locals do not seem to mind the cold, as there is a rustic mountain vibe that rocks, literally; check out the live music scene. 

If groomers are your groove, Crested Butte Ski Resort will scratch that itch. Waking up early to hit the fresh groomers is sure to be a highlight of your winter ski trip.

Skipping breakfast for your early morning ski runs will be no problem as the Paradise Warming House sits at the base of the Paradise Express Lift. A routine skier will find paradise here with first tracks on perfect groomers, a high-speed lift, and no crowds.

The mountain is considered the birthplace of freeskiing, a specific type of skiing that involves jumps, tricks, and terrain park features. Crested Butte revolutionized skiing by starting freeskiing and telemark skiing extreme competitions.

The four terrain parks here are ready to remind you of Crested Butte’s history in trickery. The parks cater to all skill levels and will not disappoint the steeziest riders. Steezy riders from Crested Butte include Olympians Wendy Fisher, Aaron Blunk, and David Chodounsky.

4.3

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Incredible expert skiing, Crested Butte’s hardest runs are on par with the best in the country.
  • check-mark
    A great vibe. Crested Butte is real, it’s a place where anyone who truly lives for skiing can feel right at home.
  • check-mark
    The scenery is incredible. If you ask us, Crested Butte rivals Telluride for best scenery in Colorado.
  • check-mark
    The crowds are far more limited than many of the Summit County resorts off I70 from Denver.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markCompared to other Colorado ski resorts, the snow averages are more conservative. The snow is still good, but this can be a problem when you want to hit the steep stuff. Less snow means less cover, and that can correlate to icy steeps.
  • check-markNot much terrain for beginners and advanced riders. Intermediates and experts are best suited to Crested Butte.
  • check-markIt’s a bit off the beaten path. You’re looking at a 4 hour drive from Denver, and even longer from Colorado Springs. Many resorts along I70 from Denver are far easier to access. (See the above “pro”: Fewer crowds!)

Where to Book:

Crested Butte Ski

Crested Butte Ski Resort 2023 Guide

Resort Profile

  • Chairlifts: 15 – 4 high speed quads, 2 quads, 2 triples, 2 doubles, 5 surface lifts
  • Vertical: 2,775ft
  • Avg. Snowfall: 236in
  • Season: November- April
  • Runs: 121
  • Beginner: 14%
  • Intermediate: 24.6%
  • Expert: 61.4%
  • Kids Ski School: yes
  • Accommodations: yes
  • Daycare: yes
See the complete list of the best Ski Resorts here!

The Resort

Prepare to “get sendy” at Crested Butte; over half of the trails are for expert riders, and half of those contain expert ski chutes, steep bowls, and cliff jumping options. Crested Butte is a seasoned rider’s dream. No wonder Crested Butte gets so many return visitors; the double black terrain at Crested Butte is something to daydream about during summer months.

Don’t start sweating if sending expert runs is not your jam, as the other half of the mountain will cater to you. The beginner zone of the mountain is conveniently located away from the expert trails, so speed demons will not disturb your practice sessions. The greens at Crested Butte are forgiving, groomed, and wide, perfect for a novice rider.

Crested Butte Ski Resort has one base area which offers everything a skier could want. Ski and snowboard rentals, a ski school, restaurants, bars, lodging, lift access for all levels of riders, and spas to help you relax on your epic ski holiday.

Crested Butte gets an average of 236 inches of snow per year. Not one of the most dumped on Colorado resorts, but the snow stays fresh and good because of the chilly weather. Powder days will be legendary here, especially at the steep upper terrain known as The Extremes. Here, an adventurous skier will find world-class challenges, chutes, and cliff drops.

Be aware of snow conditions before sending the steep risky runs off the Peak, as snow conditions truly determine the difficulty of the run, not just the run’s inherent physical traits. Regardless of the snow conditions, the infamous run “Rambo” is only for the most advanced skiers. “Rambo” is the steepest cut ski run in North America, with a pitch of 55 degrees. The run is located off Paradise Express Lift. If you fall, you will be falling for awhile, so look into the beautifully groomed runs adjacent to “Rambo” if you have any doubts.

Opened in 1960 by two men when they bought a ranch on Mount Crested Butte, the resort has evolved to become a top ski resort in North America. Crested Butte was the second resort in Colorado to open a top-to-bottom gondola in 1963. The gondola was notorious for their cabins frequently colliding; I wish I could have witnessed that. Don’t worry this is long gone, no gondola stands in place today.

Purchased by Vail Resorts in 2018, Crested Butte is now apart of the Epic Pass, allowing visitors access to 37 ski resorts in North America. With new ownership, they continue to improve their ski lift system, the on-mountain restaurants, the warming stations, and overall customer service.

crested-butte-ski-resort

Notice that “bars” is omitted; Vail Resorts slapped a ban on selling alcohol within their mountain resorts in April 2022 to set a more serious tone to the ski industry. Hope is not lost; located near the mountain’s base, the Butte 66 and the 9380 Tavern will warm your bellies with some adult juice. Try visiting at the end of your ski day, as snow sports carry consequences.

Over the years, the resort has modernized eight of its fifteen lifts. The other seven are standard fixed grip lifts. This resort is one of the few still operating a T-Bar style ski lift, the North Face Lift, providing access to the most gnarly terrain at Crested Butte. T-Bar lifts have a bar shaped like a T, and it goes behind your bum and pulls you up the mountain, which seems difficult because it is.

Do not shy away from Crested Butte because it only has fifteen lifts, as they offer an astounding 121 trails. Resorts with more lifts do not even offer this many runs. But, prepare to traverse at Crested Butte, as it is necessary to take cat-track trails across the mountain to unlock access to the trails not directly under the lift.

Not only is Crested Butte off the charts for stoke levels, but their wacky level also breaks the scale. Crested Butte locals hold events yearly to spice up the season and bring costumes into the mix. What skier does not love a good dress-up party?

The Alley Loop Nordic Marathon stands as a premier American Birkebeiner Qualifying event and a wild costume party. A nordic race is a fancy way to say cross-country ski racing. Another event, the AI Johnson Memorial Telemark Race is not for the faint-hearted. Racers will hike a 660ft vertical and descend through The Extremes of Crested Butte while dressed in their best costumes. Each event is spectator friendly; keep a lookout, as you may see a world-famous ski competitor dressed as a praying mantis.

If you are around for the summer months, Crested Butte is the origin of mountain biking in Colorado. The downhill mountain biking scene is off the charts. There is also hiking and disc golf.

Crested Butte Ski

Getting There

The nearest airport is in Gunnison, Colorado, about 30 minutes away. Unless you are flying from a major hub, the chances of having a multi-connection flight are high. The airlines servicing Gunnison/Crested Butte Airport include American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines. Once you land, transferring to your new favorite ski mountain can be done by free busing, renting a car, taxi, or shuttles.

The resort is located three miles from the town of Crested Butte. They boldly claim to be “the last great ski town of Colorado.” It prides itself as an authentic town because it was established in 1880 for silver mining instead of coming into existence for the sole purpose of the neighboring ski mountain. Today, the town offers a diverse selection of eateries, live music, bars, cannabis dispensaries, and shopping. Public transportation connects the resort and the town of Crested Butte; the buses are hand-painted by local artists to showcase different aspects of the community!

Crested Butte’s crowds are minuscule due to its “off the beaten path” location in Gunnison National Forest. Many of Colorado’s most popular ski resorts are on Highway 70, including Vail, Beaver Creek, and Cooper Mountain.

Crested Butte is three hours from this bundle of heavily trafficked resorts. Denver, Colorado, is a four-hour drive. The slopes at Crested Butte are worth venturing out towards, especially to escape all the “Jerry’s” found at the close-to-the-capital crowded resorts.

Crested Butte Ski Resort Getting Here

Accommodation

My recommendation would be to stay at The Lodge at Mountaineer Square. You will find a coffee shop and an ice cream shop within the hotel. There is also a fervent fireplace with such cozy couches that my sister decided to take up reading instead of ski during our holiday. Live music vibrates through the lobby on weekends.

If this is booked, there are plenty of other lodging options near the base. Condominiums and Airbnbs are good options, too.

If you choose to pick from the robust lodging in the town of Crested Butte, three miles away from the resort, this will still be convenient.  Creatively painted buses run from town to the mountain’s base area every forty minutes from seven in the morning to midnight.

Bus from base town to Crested Butte

Crested Butte Ski Resort Accommodation

Facilities

Crested Butte is not advertised as one of Colorado’s high-end luxury resorts like Vail and Aspen. But it is not lacking anything, Crested Butte’s facilities are continually upgraded. The resort has a classic mountain feeling, which may be why it is not advertised as luxury. There is also no Four Seasons here, so yeah, this is a mountain town, but in the best possible way.

There are lodging options with heated pools and hot tubs, but they are not as abundant as in some other ski towns. If you are looking for the best gym on the mountain, stay at Elevation Hotel & Spa. The Wildflower Spa is your hit-up if you want to hang out at the mountain’s base; you could tell your overly excited ski partner they can take a few laps without you while you sneak off to this spa.

You will find your pick of gyms, spas, yoga studios, and healing centers in town.

Child Care is provided on-mountain at Camp CB, or you can find a child care provider in town. Camp CB, located slopeside, is the go-to spot for kids. Child care is available for ages two months to three years for the full day, half-day, or hourly. Children approaching three years old can add an on-snow experience with a one-hour private ski lesson.

Crested Butte Ski Resort Facilities

For Families/skiing with kids

The ski school offers all-day, half-day, or hourly lessons for children ages three to fourteen. Children’s full-day classes provide two snacks and a lunch. So your kid can be out of your hair all day while you pretend to be free at last, having the time of your life on the slopes.

The moody fifteen to seventeen-year-olds can join the teen’s program, which includes terrain park lessons and double black terrain.

Crested Butte blocks off learning zones on the mountain, helping kids and families learn snow sports safer. There is even a family-centered terrain park. The magic carpet is found here, a miraculous device that escorts riders uphill by standing on a moving conveyor belt. Crested Butte has two magic carpets, Aspen and Pine. Once you advance your skills, the Peach Tree Lift will be the first chair-life you want to try.

Crested Butte Ski Resort Skiing With Kids

For Beginners

As stated above, there are blocked-off learning zones for beginners. Something unique to Crested Butte resort is the way the mountain is laid out. Each level of terrain, beginner, intermediate, and advanced, is in its own subsection of the mountain. So the beginner trails are all located on one side of the mountain.

This makes navigating the trails easy, as only a few lifts are servicing the beginner area. From the base area, Peach Tree Lift will have short green runs. Once you are ready for longer green runs, hop on Red Lady Express Lift. There are two magic carpets in the beginner zone, as well.

Adult and kid private lessons are offered in two-hour, half-day, or all-day formats for ages 3 to adult. Adults can take a 2.5 hour or 6 hour long lesson, which includes the lift ticket. The rental equipment is provided for students within the lesson charge. All problems will be handled for you. The instructors are prepared to give you “an experience of a lifetime!”

Crested Butte Ski Resort Beginners

For Routine Skiers

Crested Butte is heavenly for routine skiers, and they love to boast about how many returnees they harvest. The town of Crested Butte is a reason to move there in itself, for there is a vibrant social scene, world-class cross-country skiing, and authenticity.

The resort has flourished since its opening, and there is no lack of fun to be had here. Expert riders can take advantage of over half the mountain. If double blacks are what make your ticker click, then prepare yourself. The crowds stay slim in the Peak region of the mountain where the expert trails are.

Take the Silver Queen Express Lift from the base area to reach expert trails; go one step further and take the High Lift right next door to gain the most lift service elevation on the mountain. On the way down from High Lift, called the Headwall, are mandatory expert trails. Do not get on High Lift if you are not an expert.

The resort has an established 1,547 skiable acres. This acreage excludes the off-piste skiing that seems endless when you are in the smack-dab middle of the Rocky Mountain range. The most iconic backcountry peak is Mount Gothic.

Enthusiasts can see this peak from the resort and dream; some make this dream a reality, but take caution as this area is not in ski patrol territory. Riders are warned to have an ax, professional backcountry gear, and special avalanche training before conquering this big mountain-lined beast.

For the daredevils, “Body Bags” is named by ski patrol to spark caution. Most humans should never go near this out-of-bounds run, as it is a steep chute ending in a fifteen-foot mandatory cliff drop. This whole run is a no-fall zone. No-fall zone means you will most likely die if you fall. With that being said, props to anyone that sends this run, and some freeskiers at Crested Butte do. We cannot be held liable for you attempting this run.

Crested Butte Ski Resort Routine Skiers

For Snowboarders

Snowboarding and terrain parks at Crested Butte are stoke worthy. Four terrain parks max out the stoke levels and allow for dope progression due to them offering a variety of x-small, small, medium, large, and x-large features.

For those dipping their toe into terrain park riding for the first time with their family, Crested Butte’s Family Cross Course terrain park is for you. It is accessible from Paradise Express Lift.

There are x-small rollers (little ski hills) and a few small-sized boxes (tabletop plastic boxes that mimic rails). The park is a mile long, and some “rad” turns can be made in this manicured zone. Even if you are not with your family, stop by! But it seems this park’s opening is dependent on snow conditions.

If you are that dude that just bought a snowboard after skateboarding your whole life, go immediately to the Ten Peaks Progression Park. This park offers beginner lines with x-small and small features like jumps, boxes, and rails. You might also meet another buddy with muffled music in their backpack. This is the warmest place on the mountain, so hang out all day, get better, and post “fail” snowboard reels.

Seasoned park riders will love Lower Twister Terrain Park and the high-speed lifts offering service to this destination: Red Lady Express and Silver Queen Express.

Emphasis on seasoned park riders, as the jumps are large to x-large; expect to see 30-foot jumps. This terrain park is under a lift, so senders can impress people passing by overhead. Do not worry about crashing because, in the ski world, it is not about whether you made it or not; it is about whether you sent it or not.

Keystone Jib Park is built for all ability riders and keeps the stoke flowing with park features changing weekly. Let the creativity roll as you make line choices through the small and medium jumps and rails. Frequent riders find it especially stoke-worthy when the terrain park crew changes the features often.

There is no halfpipe at Crested Butte.

However, do not let the stoke blind your judgment. Practice Park SMART; this means: starting on Small features, Making a plan for every feature, Always looking for before you drop, Respecting the features and other users, and Taking it easy.

Crested Butte Ski Resort Snowboarders

Shopping

If you are like my parents, who wait till the day before to buy holiday gifts for your kids, the shops at Crested Butte will have your back. Crested Butte Sports at the mountain village has all your gear needs; they carry the newest ski gear and a great selection of ski clothing.

There are no frilly mountain shopping centers like at Heavenly or Telluride, but it will do the job. Once a high-end shopping center is put in place, Crested Butte will surely be labeled a top luxury resort. The shopping at Crested Butte is charming, and mountain gear is abundant.

In town, park along Elk Avenue to walk amongst the quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants. Shops vary from antiques and tourist shops, clothing boutiques, a hat shop, a chocolate factory, and summer and winter outdoor gear.

Gear Shop in mountain village

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Crested Butte Ski Resort Shopping

The Apres-Ski

Crested Butte Resort is full of skiers that are there to shred and nothing else. Thankfully, there are three slope-style restaurants accessed via ski lift. The convenience of having an on-mountain restaurant is fabulous, but getting sick because you skied too soon after eating is not.

For a special treat, I recommend eating at Uley’s Cabin. You’ll be treated to a five-course gourmet meal by a roaring fireplace. Or, try the Paradise Warming Lounge, which offers grab-and-go snacks and meals for a more low-key vibe. The other laid-back slopeside eatery is Butte 66, located at the base; this location serves alcohol.

In the town of Crested Butte, the après scene is plentiful and filling! Take the free bus or drive your car into town to explore the restaurants and cafes.

A lot of American food is featured in this town, as this is rural America. The Slogar is known for its fried chicken if that is something you are interested in. If you are looking for a place to have a nice wine pairing, the Sunflower on Elk Avenue will appease you; make reservations on weekends, as it can get busy! People complained on Google that they had to wait a bit for their water here, so be on the lookout to avoid those people.

To Sum Up, Visit Crested Butte

Family vacations here will be one for the books. If little ones need to be checked into daycare while the rest of the family slips and slides down the mountain, Crested Butte has you covered. If your family are beginners, you can take a private lesson altogether! Stay at the mountain lodging for convenient slope access, or in town to experience the original mountain town energy encompassed by amenities and facilities.

If you are a sender, get stoked to conquer the double-black slopes provided by the epic mountain. The steep pitch of the slopes here should make even the most advanced skiers question their abilities, but once you muster the courage to travel down the daunting slopes, you will feel invincible. The mountain provides challenging, diverse terrain drool-worthy for even professional riders. The back-country skiing satisfies entry participants to veteran off-piste skiers, so stock up on back-country gear while you are here!

Regardless of your ability, families and individuals will find their favorite holiday expectations met above and beyond at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Whether you want to enjoy the fireplace and apres scene, get a first-time lesson, or drop cliffs, your desires will be filled to the brim here, just like your beer at the welcoming bars.

Crested Butte Ski Resort Mountain

Related Reviews

4.3

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Incredible expert skiing, Crested Butte’s hardest runs are on par with the best in the country.
  • check-mark
    A great vibe. Crested Butte is real, it’s a place where anyone who truly lives for skiing can feel right at home.
  • check-mark
    The scenery is incredible. If you ask us, Crested Butte rivals Telluride for best scenery in Colorado.
  • check-mark
    The crowds are far more limited than many of the Summit County resorts off I70 from Denver.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markCompared to other Colorado ski resorts, the snow averages are more conservative. The snow is still good, but this can be a problem when you want to hit the steep stuff. Less snow means less cover, and that can correlate to icy steeps.
  • check-markNot much terrain for beginners and advanced riders. Intermediates and experts are best suited to Crested Butte.
  • check-markIt’s a bit off the beaten path. You’re looking at a 4 hour drive from Denver, and even longer from Colorado Springs. Many resorts along I70 from Denver are far easier to access. (See the above “pro”: Fewer crowds!)

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