With record-breaking snowfall amounts already this season plus a top of the line Nordic trail system, Crested Butte is a great winter destination for outdoor adventurers–especially snowshoers. And, its central location just a four hour drive from Denver makes it a great weekend getaway. Here are some tips to enjoy a great Crested Butte snowshoe vacation.
If you’re coming to snowshoe, you’ll want to stay at the Old Town Inn located within walking distance to both the Crested Butte Nordic Center and the Main Street downtown district for easy access to gear rentals, restaurants, bars and shops. The Old Town Inn has a warm, cozy atmosphere and all the comforts of home, including a fantastic complimentary breakfast featuring hot and cold items as well as the town’s legendary Camp 4 Coffee. The outdoor, covered hot tub and free chocolate chip cookies (which are fresh-baked every day at 3 p.m.) are welcome treats after being out in the cold all day.
Those who wish to stay closer to the ski resort can find a variety of hotels and condos available (check out the Elevation Hotel & Spa for a luxurious yet affordable option.)
Eat & Drink
Although Crested Butte is a very small town, it is chock-full of great places to eat, drink and socialize. If you just have a day or two, put the tamale platter at Teocalli’s, pad thai at the Ginger Café and a nightcap at the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin at the top of your list. If you have extra time (or are extra ravenous) add in a bowl of lamb korma at the Sherpa Café and late-night drinks at Kochevar’s Saloon. For a romantic evening, make reservations in advance to dine at The Sunflower or the Soupcon. And no visit to the Butte is complete without a stop at Montanya Distillers, whose award-winning white rum was named one of the best in the world, and Camp 4 Coffee, a local icon, for liquid souvenirs.
The ski resort has an array of restaurants and bars as well, but it seems to wind down pretty early in the evening. And most of the shops close soon after the lifts power down putting a harsh hush on the après scene at the base.
Being a mountain town (and one that received a whopping eight feet of snow in January alone) Crested Butte is a winter sports-person’s paradise and self-described “Nordic Ski Capital of Colorado.” From the challenging terrain of the slopes at Crested Butte Mountain Resort to the expansive Nordic trail system in town to the backcountry trails of the three National Forests that surround it, there are snowshoe opportunities galore.
Start at the Crested Butte Nordic Center in town to obtain a free map and advice on where to go based on your ability level and time allotment. Although the center doesn’t offer snowshoe-specific trails, snowshoers are welcome to trek alongside 50 kilometers of groomed Nordic tracks which meander all over town offering quick and easy access to beautiful scenery and delightful solitude.
The trails off the Lower Loop Trailhead around Peanut Lake are especially lovely and provide access to the Magic Meadows Yurt, where “backcountry gourmet” dinner experiences are offered throughout the winter season ($135 per person, reservations required). The yurt also operates on Sundays as the Backcountry Bistro, a warming hut offering coffee, tea, pastries and snacks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (trail pass required: Adults $20, free for kids under 17 years old.) Snowshoe gear rentals, lessons and backcountry guided tours are also offered at the Nordic center.
At the Crested Butte Mountain Resort, guided snowshoe tours leave every day at 12:30 p.m. providing a great way to get some fresh air and exercise while also learning about the area’s history and geography ($90 per person includes gear, guide and snacks). The resort also welcomes snowshoers to participate in group treks up to its new Umbrella Bar for food, drinks and amazing mountain views with events like Full Moon at Ten Peaks (once a month January – March) and Sunset Soiree’s (Tuesdays in March).
Since you can’t exert and eat all day, every day, spend some time exploring the town’s leisure activities from shopping to spas—including several nearby hot springs (check out Mount Princeton Resort near Buena Vista or Waunita Hot Springs Ranch near Gunnison.) The shopping along Main Street rivals any Colorado mountain town twice its size. There are outdoor gear shops on every corner with everything you might need from carabiners to hiking boots, but for something truly special head to Rooted Apothecary for herbal skincare products (and a massage or facial, too, if you like); Casa Bella for nice home goods and hostess gifts; or Townie Books for a coffee table addition by a local author.