Crested Butte Recreation

Crested Butte Submits New Master Development Plan

Screen-shot-2013-01-17-at-8.30.50-AM-620x405Crested Butte Mountain Resort has submitted its new 2012 Master Development Plan to the U.S. Forest Service for review and acceptance. The plans main goal is to attract and retain destination visitors to the area. The process can be expected to take a minimum of two years.


  • Upgrading and relocating the North Face surface lift to a fixed-grip triple chairlift.
  • Relocating Gold Link lift to a new lower area and upgrading it to a detachable quad.
  • Red Lady Lift to be upgraded to a 2,400 person per hour capacity via additional chairs on the cable.
  • The Painter Boy Lift upgraded to a detachable quad.
  • Teocalli Lift to be realigned/extended to the west so that its upper terminal is located adjacent to the top terminal of the Red Lady Express and the future Red Lady Lodge. The MDP seeks approval to upgrade the lift to a fixed-grip or detachable quad.

Click here to read the entire article.

Crested Butte Ski Area Lays Out Vision for Growth

indexCrested Butte Mountain Resort’s new master development plan includes visions of adding about 440 acres and two new lifts on its east side.  One goal: to entice more visitors to stay longer at the out-of-the-way destination resort, which is smaller than the Vail, Telluride and Steamboat ski areas. The resort also aims to make itself more appealing to intermediate skiers and snowboarders, not just experts, who will bring their families.

“We’ve done surveys the last three to four years. The number one comment from guests is always, ‘Can you add more terrain?'” said John Sale, the resort’s director of planning and sustainability. On average, customers stay for about 3 1/2 days, which is a shorter than what peer resorts boast, he said. “Once people make the effort to get here, they would love to have additional ski pods to ski.”

The mountain also wants to boost year-round activities so that summer activities make up 30 percent of total revenue, up from roughly one-fourth of overall revenue today. To that end, it envisions adding several miles of biking and multiuse trails.  The U.S. Forest Service is reviewing whether to accept the plan, which lays out a vision of how the resort might grow over the next five to 10 years, rather than an exact outline of what will happen.

It includes adding 440 acres in the Teo Park and Drainage area. It would also add two lifts, a warming hut and ski patrol station in that area. The changes are intended to let intermediate skiers and riders take a chairlift to get to runs with more of a remote, backcountry feel without having to take an expert black diamond trail.

“A lot of times people affiliate Crested Butte with extreme terrain. We’ve got plenty of it. At the same time, the intermediate skier can get that experience without having to huck off double blacks to get there (after the proposed changes),” Sale said.  Other lifts would be upgraded to better distribute visitors on the mountain and improve access to terrain.

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An Epic Hike From Crested Butte to Aspen in Colorado

On-the-trail-near-the-Maroon-Bells-outside-of-Aspen-200x300Some vacations are about relaxing; some are about sightseeing and some are about accomplishing a goal—climbing a mountain, becoming a certified scuba diver, visiting as many ball parks as you can in two weeks. I’d always wanted to do the famous hike between Crested Butte in Southwest Colorado and Aspen –12.2 miles along the West Maroon trail, crossing the Maroon Pass which is 12,500 feet high. And in the year since— as we get ready to meet up with family for a week at a Portico  Club  rental house in Snowmass, up the road from Aspen–I’ve thought  a lot about that hike.

That I was able to do it has not only given me confidence to push myself in other arenas but has made me smile when I’m feeling low.  I treasure the memory, most of all because I shared the hike with my husband and 21-year-old daughter Mel, an avid hiker and backpacker who led the way.

This would be no walk in the park.   We were at high elevation hiking over a mountain pass. Many people backpack here.   I’d first heard about this hike years ago when we took our kids to ski at Crested Butte, one of my favorite mountain towns. Crested Butte is an old western town with an entire downtown area that is on the national historic register and a five minute free bus ride from the mountain (and the condos) and so safe we felt comfortable letting young teens wander. At many other ski resorts, you are 20 minutes or more from downtown if you stay on the mountain.

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Colorado’s Big Shortcut

Photo by Tom Roche

Photo by Tom Roche

Men’s Journal hit the nail on the head with this great article about the trail between Aspen and Crested Butted. The bottom line is…it belongs on the bucketlist.


More than 100 miles of winding road separate Aspen from Crested Butte. That number drops to ten when you ditch the asphalt and step onto the trail snaking up and over 12,480-foot Maroon Pass. As lovely as the drive may be – and it is certainly lovely – the hike is far more memorable. Fortunately, the folks at Aspen’s Limelight Hotel are happy to give visitors a lift to the West Maroon Creek trailhead (as well as a SPOT Personal Tracker device meant to reassure hikers worried about losing the path). What follows is in equal turns rigorous and scenic.

The hike starts with a photo op. The crisp, clear waters of Maroon Lake perfectly reflect the 14,000-foot Maroon Bells, creating a scene so fetching that locals insist its the most photographed view in Colorado. Two miles up the trail, which winds through the White River National Forest, aspen groves give way to reveal a view of the lush glacial valley carved between the Maroon Peaks and the 13,000-foot Len Shoemaker Ridge.

At tree line, wildflowers take over – purple, red, yellow, white, and waist-deep. The final push to the pass rises along a goat path that cuts above the floral scene along a headwall. At the top, a large rock formation shields hikers from the wind so they can enjoy a killer view (and a hotel-packed lunch). Total time to the top is roughly four hours for about six uphill miles. By comparison, the descent on the other side feels easy – four fast miles on singletrack through meadows. The views are constantly changing for the better so the hike goes much faster without a camera.

Elevation Outdoors Best Colorado Mountain Towns

EO_BestPartyTown_Logo-e1378226404172-150x125We thought it was too much to simply ask our readers to vote for the best single mountain town in the state. So we broke it down a bit into all the aspects that make living in the mountains so important. We put the poll up online and watched the winners slowly assert their dominance. And it ends up that we did find a single most popular mountain town, as Crested Butte took three out of the five categories. The only loss is the towns that didn’t win. Because just being in the mountains is best.


It’s sort of unfair to include Crested Butte in a “best bike town” poll. After all, this is one of two places in the world which claims to be the birthplace of the mountain bike (Marin County, Calif. the other) and the town’s whole identity seems to revolve around the famous 401 Trail. But, as the USA Pro Challenge continues to raise Colorado’s profile in the cycling universe and so many other towns in the state have made cycling a staple of their economy and identity, Crested Butte has still managed to lead the pack.

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Colorado’s Top 13 Family Vacation Ideas for Summer 2013

indexSummer is just around the corner and you don’t need to look far to have a world-class vacation with your family. From theater hikes to Outhouse Races to free events galore, we have the inside scoop on All Things Colorado.


It may be summertime but Snowmass has returned to the Ice Age with the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center that features the most significant Ice Age ecosystem find in Colorado history (and it’s free). Touch a mastodon tooth, marvel at a half-sized 6-foot Wooden Mammoth Skeleton, do a dig of your own or a daily Ice Age Discovery Hike by  Environment Studies.  Visit the Snowmass Rodeo on Wednesday nights (June 12- August 28) and sign up your kids for the Calf Scramble and Mutton Busting. Ride the Elk Camp Gondola up Snowmass Mountain where the Elk Camp Restaurant will open for activities including downhill biking, dinner, campfires, live music, movies, Stryder Park and Kid’s Playground on Friday evenings. Try your hand at some slopeside bowling at the new bowling alley below Venga Venga Cantina featuring eight full-sized lanes, a lounge area with full bar, wood-fired oven pizzas, upscale bar food and more. Then, get inspired at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a stellar place for kids of all ages to take workshops that include sculpture, photography, painting, beading, and mask-making.

Click here to read about all the other fun Colorado towns.

Mountain Biking Crested Butte, Colorado

crested butteFull disclosure: out of everywhere I have ridden my bike, Crested Butte tops the list as my all-time favorite location. I’ve ridden all over the United States, and while there are many places I still want to visit inside our nation’s borders as well as abroad, Crested Butte is currently my favorite place in the world.

When I first learned to mountain bike in Wisconsin, Dean, the man that taught me to ride, used to rave about this place called Crested Butte. I eventually learned that he and a group of friends would take a trip out west every year or two, and almost every single time they went they traveled to Crested Butte. At first I thought that was ridiculous: if you only get to visit the Rocky Mountains once a year, why the heck would you go to the same place almost every time?

I didn’t understand it at the time, but after visiting Crested Butte a couple of times myself, I eventually realized why: if you only get to the visit the Rockies once a year, there’s no point in wasting time on anything less than the best.

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Pot Votes in CO Raise Specter of Weed Tourism

Hit the slopes — and then a bong?

Marijuana legalization votes this week in Colorado and Washington state don’t just set up an epic state-federal showdown on drug laws for residents. The measures also open the door for marijuana tourism.

Both marijuana measures make marijuana possession in small amounts OK for all adults over 21 — not just state residents but visitors, too. Tourists may not be able to pack their bowls along with their bags, but as long as out-of-state tourists purchase and use the drug while in Colorado or Washington, they wouldn’t violate the marijuana measures.

Of course, that’s assuming the recreational marijuana measures take effect at all. That was very much in doubt Friday as the states awaited word on possible lawsuits from the U.S. Department of Justice asserting federal supremacy over drug law.

So the future of marijuana tourism in Colorado and Washington is hazy. But that hasn’t stopped rampant speculation, especially in Colorado, where tourism is the No. 2 industry thanks to the Rocky Mountains and a vibrant ski industry.

The day after Colorado approved recreational marijuana by a wide margin, the headline in the Aspen Times asked, “Aspendam?” referring to Amsterdam’s marijuana cafes.

Colorado’s tourism director, Al White, tried to downplay the prospect of a new marijuana tourism boom. “It won’t be as big a deal as either side hopes or fears,” White said. Maybe not. But many are asking about marijuana tourism.

Ski resorts are “certainly watching it closely,” said Jennifer Rudolph of Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association that represents 21 Colorado resorts.

The Colorado counties where big ski resorts are located seem to have made up their minds. The marijuana measure passed by overwhelming margins, with more support than in less visited areas.

The home county of Aspen approved the marijuana measure more than 3-to-1. More than two-thirds approved marijuana in the home county of Colorado’s largest ski resort, Vail. The home county of Telluride ski resort gave marijuana legalization its most lopsided victory, nearly 8 in 10 favoring the measure.

“Some folks might come to Colorado to enjoy some marijuana as will be their right. So what?” said Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the Colorado marijuana campaign.

Marijuana backers downplayed the impact on tourism. Aldworth pointed out that pot-smoking tourists wouldn’t exactly be new. Colorado ski slopes already are dotted with “smoke shacks,” old mining cabins that have been illicitly repurposed as places to smoke pot out of the cold. And the ski resort town of Breckenridge dropped criminal penalties for marijuana use two years ago.


Ice Climbing Crested Butte? Yes!

Colorado is off again to another very dry and slow start to the winter season. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do out in the mountains. In fact, with the sunny and mild days right now, things would be downright perfect for outdoor enthusiasts if we weren’t all impatiently awaiting the arrival of winter to sustain us through the cold and dark season for the next few months.

If one looks beyond the general lack of the fluffy white stuff in Colorado, they find that in fact it is prime time for downright anything outdoor enthusiast oriented. Colorado is home to great ice climbing. After all it is home to the world-famous Ouray Ice Park. Crested Butte, however, has never been known as an ice climbing haven. However, the rare cold, dry starts to winter around here, do in fact bring about some rare and ephemeral early-season alpine ice climbs that are scattered throughout the surroundings mountains.

And although not world-class or destination worthy, they are none-the-less, high quality climbs in a gorgeous mountain/wilderness setting with little to no one else around. We’ve been excited by the actual good quality of the ice we have, coupled with the enjoyment we get in experiencing a rare and fleeting thing in the Crested Butte back-country…ice climbing season.

Click here to read the entire article about Ice Climbing in Crested Butte.

“September Splendor in the Rockies” Showcases Colorful Crested Butte, Colorado

Colorado’s largest aspen grove turning brilliant shades of color, Indian summer temperatures and a wide range of events and outdoor recreation combine to make “September Splendor in the Rockies” a month not to miss in Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colo. September is an ideal time for people who love the sights, smells, sounds and feel of fall.

A few highlights include the Fall Festival of Beers & Chili Cook-off, Vinotok fall harvest festival, Crested Butte Film Festival, running and biking events, art walks, farmers’ markets, and stargazing at the Gunnison Valley Observatory. For more information about each event, visit or call (877) 351-8724. Ideas for great fall drives are posted on