Denver locals and ski visitors alike tend to beeline it up the I-70 corridor whether they are driving up for the weekend or flying in from DIA for a week-long vacation. And there's lots to love about the Northern Colorado ski resorts accessible from I-70; you can ski smaller, less developed gems like Loveland and A-Basin or big-time resorts like Breckenridge, Vail, and Beaver Creek. But traffic can be a bummer at times (just check out this video), and let's face it, sometimes you need to try something new. Whenever we want to avoid I-70, Curbed Ski heads to Crested Butte. Here are 9 reasons why you should do the same.
9. There's a down-to-earth, friendly vibe: There's nothing worse than arriving at a ski area and feeling accosted by a bunch of stuffy, only-for-show, stuck-up tourists. Crested Butte never feels like this. The locals are friendly, the tourists are friendly, and even the town dogs are nice. Everyone is here because they are livin' the ski life, not because they want to show off their new fancy fur coat. It's a breath of fresh air.
8. The ski area is great for families: Crested Butte offers a ton for families. There's a huge lesson program, plenty of magic carpets for the beginners, and a high-speed quad (the Red Lady Express Lift) that exclusively serves beginner terrain. The mountain is well-sized for families, not too big to intimidate people learning for the first time. Child care is also offered, head over here for more info. Is your family tired of skiing? Try a zipline tour, spend a few hours in the adventure park, and if parents need a date night, make a reservation for the little ones in Crested Butte's "Kid's Night Out" program. In town, families flock to the sledding hill which is conveniently located next to the Big Mine Ice Arena and Nordic Center (kids can also ice skate, rentals available for the Nordic Center).
7. But it also has amazing experts-only skiing: Some family-centric ski areas don't offer much for the double-black-diamond crowd, but not Crested Butte. Check and see what's open when you arrive, but Crested Butte has amazing terrain, whether you want steep bowls or well-spaced trees. There's even a new section called Teocalli 2 Bowl that's debuting this season.
6. Whether you stay in town or on the mountain, you don't need a car: The Crested Butte bus system is free, easy to maneuver, and efficient. Whether you stay ski-in/ski-out at the ski area, or down in town, visitors don't really need a car. Downtown Crested Butte is flat and walkable, with everything centered around Elk Avenue. Curbed Ski usually likes to rent a vacation home in town; it's only a short 15 minute bus ride to the ski area. Check out the routes here.
5. There are plenty of dining options: Curbed Ski is in the midst of creating our first-ever Crested Butte dining guide, but until then, know that this historic town doesn't lack for dining options. On mountain we love Uley's Cabin for relaxing, upscale lunches or the classic sleigh ride dinner. Our favorite restaurant at the base of the ski area is Django's, a small plates hot spot that has great wine and a chic atmosphere, perfect for a date night. In downtown Crested Butte, check out Teocalli Tamale for fast-casual Mexican and Montanya Distillers for appetizers and killer cocktails.
4. No lift lines: Perhaps because of its more remote location, Crested Butte just doesn't get the crowds that plague Colorado's I-70 resorts. We've never waited for more than 5 minutes in a lift line, and ski patrol and the lift operators always do a good job of keeping the lifts open and running. Crested Butte lets you focus on the skiing, not on lift-line strategies.
3. It's not hard to get to: We're always amazed at how quickly we get to Crested Butte. It's a scenic, 4-hour drive from Denver which may seem like a lot until you realize that the 2-hour drive to Vail can easily turn into 5 hours with bad I-70 traffic. Instead, Highway 285 is a cinch to navigate and rarely has traffic as bad as its better-known counterpart. Pro tip: stop in Buena Vista's Eddyline Brewery for an easy, scrumptious dinner at the drive's half-way point.
2. It's still affordable: Unlike other ski towns where it seems like you have to get a second mortgage to afford your ski vacation, Crested Butte still offers up serious value. Lodging is often 10-20% less than other ski towns, and lift tickets are still reasonably priced (of course, it's all relative). Food is also a bit cheaper here, with the family-friendly focus meaning that there are plenty of casual options and fewer $90-per-filet steak houses. Curbed Ski can still afford to ski Crested Butte during the holidays, which is saying a lot.
1. Crested Butte is a real ski town: No offense to other not-to-be-named ski areas, but plenty of Colorado resorts offer up great skiing without much of a town. The town of Crested Butte is what makes it so special. Expect historic mining cabins, old Victorians, real shops owned by locals, and quirky buildings covered in license plates. It's a pedestrian oasis, with almost everyone choosing to walk or bike (check out the fat biking) instead of drive. And there's a thriving community that plans fun events for all (just head over here to take a look).
So that's it, Curbediverse: 9 reasons you should head to Crested Butte. Did we convince you?
· Crested Butte Mountain Resort [Official Site]
· Gunnison Crested Butte [Official Website]
· I-70 Traffic Is So Bad You Can Ski Faster Than You Can Drive [Curbed Ski]
· Where to Try Fat Biking, From Tahoe to Crested Butte [Curbed Ski]
· Adorable Miner's Cabin in Historic Crested Butte Asks $925K [Curbed Ski]
· The Ten Ski Towns You Absolutely Must Visit This Winter [Curbed Ski]