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Crested Butte

Though often finding itself the Butte of the joke... as home to the steepest lift-served off-piste in the US, CB is no laughing matter. A pioneer of extreme skiing competitions, annual host of the Extreme Ski & Snowboarding Championships and home to the US’s largest powdercat fleet, this terrain means business. Luckily, lovely locals in its last-of-its-kind Victorian town don’t take themselves too seriously - their nickname for the resort is “Crusty Butt”...

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

At a glance: • Eclectic mining town • Amazing expert terrain

Great for: • Experts • Families • Off Piste

Though often finding itself the Butte of the joke... as home to the steepest lift-served off-piste in the US, CB is no laughing matter. A pioneer of extreme skiing competitions, annual host of the Extreme Ski & Snowboarding Championships and home to the US’s largest powdercat fleet, this terrain means business. Luckily, lovely locals in its last-of-its-kind Victorian town don’t take themselves too seriously - their nickname for the resort is “Crusty Butt”...

Crested Butte Resort

As one of CB’s famously friendly locals puts it, “it’s off the beaten path and we love that”. 4.5 hours from Denver airport, it isn’t as easy to get to as resorts on Colorado’s I-70 Corridor - but that’s one of the reasons it’s so darn fantastic

For someone who’s willing to fly further, travel deeper and ski harder; this resort in the Colorado region of the Elk Mountains is the El Dorado of the ski world. With the East River to the north east, Gothic Mountain and Paradise Divide to the north, and no signs of civilisation in either direction, it feels like another world altogether. There’s nowhere better to take it all in than the exposed faces of the 12,162 ft Mt. Crested Butte summit.

You have to look beyond the resort’s modest 1547 acres to see its true potential. Its greatest strengths are off-piste and not included on trail maps. They’re also down in the town: preserved for posterity, sitting 3 miles or 5 minutes (by free shuttle) from the base station, downtown Crested Butte is considered the last real Colorado ski town. You’ll spend nights here waiting for John Wayne to sidle through the saloon doors, and hobnobbing with charming locals in going on 50 bars and restaurants.

Stats & FAQ

Location: Colorado, USA

Established: 1961

Open: December- April

Downhill: 1547 acres

View our detailed Crested Butte snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Crested Butte snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Gunnison–Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC)30 miles, 40 mins
Denver International Airport (DEN)253 miles, 4.5 hours
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 23%

  • 57%

  • 20%

Top Altitude:12,162ft / 3707m
Bottom Altitude:9375ft / 2856m
Resort Altitude:9375ft / 2856m
Longest run:2.6 miles
Slope Orientation:N W
Vertical Drop:3061ft
Skiable Vertical:
Night Skiing:No
Glacier:No

Snow Report

  • Top
  • 13cm
  • Base
  • N/Acm
  • Forecast
  • N/Acm

Web Cam

Crested Butte web cams
Downhill Runs:1547 acres
Beginner slopes:23%
Intermediate:57%
Advanced slopes:20%
Lift Pass Price: $71 (single day adult pass)
Nearby resorts: Aspen

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Crested Butte

While at 1547 acres the ski area sounds modest, this doesn’t factor in the terrain over the hill, some of the gnarliest at a North American ski resort and officially the continent’s steepest lift-accessed turf. Thanks to the lack of crowds, fresh stashes are also easy to come by. And those are just a few of the reasons Crested Butte hosts various extreme freeskiing championships.

But for all the hype about its nail-biting steeps, beginners needn’t go running for other hills. In fact, much of the mountain is a big softy. The Red Lady high-speed chair from the base serves nothing but green and double green cruisers and the entirety of Ten Peaks is devoted to blue terrain.

With 57% of groomed terrain suitable for intermediates (and more in the pipeline), there’s more than enough to keep confident skiers and boarders busy. Tuck into some quick laps off of the Prospect and Gold Link Lift; then move on up to tons of steeper trail options off of Paradise and East River Express lifts. Take things to the next level on International, a groomed black where you can really let rip.

As you’ve heard, expert terrain is where CB shines, with dozens of double black trails denoted as EX (“Extreme Terrain”) that will knock your thermal socks off. EX counts as “cliffs with a minimum 20ft rise over 15ft run and slopes with a minimum 50° average pitch over 100ft run”... These areas, such as off the North Face Lift and in gate-accessed Teocalli Bowl over the top of the resort, are as tough as you’ll find on US soil. With phenomenal scope for backcountry, get a Crested Butte Mountain Guide to show you all there is to know about the area. For powderhounds, cat skiing at nearby Irwin (which is usually buried in snow) makes for a fantastic day trip.

Crested Butte Apres Ski

Where words fail to do justice to variety of the bars and restaurants of downtown CB, two examples may have more luck: the oldest saloon in town, Kochevar’s, is number one – draped in taxidermy, porcelain dolls, and other brick a back the saloon has collected since opening in 1886.

Number two, Secret Stash, is a retro-Asian-fusion gourmet pizza place with lots of seating laid out on the floor.

The offerings at CB can’t be pigeonholed. Once described as a “drinking town with a skiing problem” there’s inevitably dancing too, the best at Talk of the Town or the trippy but terrific Red Room. This is, of course, if you make it that far. After a day on EX terrain, a 4 o’clock beer at Avalanche by the base of the lifts may be enough of a night cap.

The emphasis here is on outdoor sports, but there's plenty to do besides slide downhill in every way imaginable. One of the world's best dog sledding operations is here, the Lucky Cat Dog Farm, who will take lucky visitors on magical tours of varying durations to abandoned mining settlements. Try a snow shoe tour under the full moon or visit the nordic centre down in town. Look out for guided sleigh tours through historic downtown Crested Butte or you may wish to try ballooning, including trips over to Aspen - there's a light airstrip for scenic flights.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Crested Butte

When is the best time to ski Crested Butte?

An altitude range of 9,100 - 11,900 feet is excellent for preserving snow but as Crested Butte’s terrain is the steepest, most technical terrain in Colorado, it’s also some of the trickiest to cover. While the front, beginner and intermediate side of the mountain is usually open for the Christmas holidays, the North Face has been open by Christmas in fewer than 20% of seasons. Except when there’s abundant early season snow, experts will have the best time from February onwards. The good news is, the High Lift and North Face steeps usually hold onto packed powder conditions up to and beyond the early April close.

Peak Dates

Famed for once having the most skiing Santa’s at any one moment, Christmas in Crested Butte is sure to leave you with a few stories. Other zany activities have included a Winter Solstice party, ice carving competition and the spectacle of Santa being pulled down the slopes by snowcat..

Join crowds on the Butte 66 deck to watch a torchlit parade and fireworks show for New Year in Crested Butte, or get merry down in town where, needless to say, drinks specials and live music will be ubiquitous.

There’s no such thing as half-term in the US, not that this quiet resort would feel the strain if there were. So Half-Term in Crested Butte is about the most likely place that teachers, mum, dad and kids will all have a blast.

Not making do with just any old egg hunt, if it’s anything like previous years, Easter in Crested Butte will see a mountain-wide Golden Egg Hunt with prizes like a season pass for the whole winter.

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Families in Crested Butte

National Geographic voted CB the “best ski town for families hoping to raise the next freeskiing champion”. But even if your offspring are not born super shredders, with activities like the Adventure Park with a Zero Gravity BagJump, rock-climbing wall and bungee tramps, CB is a winner. The laid back attitude in the resort makes it a stress free place for all visitors.

The area has trails especially for kids, including ones that ski through a (now uninhabited) bear cave, Forest Service lodge and gold-mining building. Often on selected dates “no-strings” free lift passes are available for under 12’s.

Day care is offered from age six months at the slopeside Whetstone Children's Centre - full-day, half day or by the hour - and rates are said to be cheaper than other Colorado hot spots. Kids’ World, meanwhile, offers the usual incredibly comprehensive child-friendly ski program that is the norm for Colorado's top ski resorts. The 7ft skiing teddy, Bubba Bear, is especially popular with the kids in ski school.

Teens too have more just for them than most resorts offer, including a specially tailored tuition program (skiing or boarding). In town there's a Teen Centre with billiards, football, table tennis and sponsored activities like dances and movie nights.

GroupsGroup Holidays Crested Butte

Whether you’re a bunch of seasoned skiers or a mix of different abilities; staying near the slopes in Mount Crested Butte or down in Crested Butte town, this place has a smashing variety of ski terrain and entertainment to suit everyone. The resort is experienced when it comes to hosting ski clubs, weddings and family reunions, making a group trip of any shape or size doable.

More Crested Butte Holiday Resources


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