I have been to Crested Butte twice prior to this trip, once in the summer and once in the winter, but both of those trips were very brief and I didn’t really do much around town. I was also young and single during that time, so it looked A LOT different than my recent trip with my husband and two kids.
This trip was almost a week long and we tried to pack everything we could within that week.
Let me start by saying Crested Butte is definitely towards the top of my ‘favorite ski towns’ list. It is quaint and inviting and the people there are just ‘cool’. I don’t get a bougie vibe from it like I do in Aspen and Vail (don’t get me wrong, we also LOVE Aspen and Vail- just a totally different vibe).
Crested Butte has definitely struggled since COVID and the crazy housing market. People who work there can’t afford to live there, which has caused many places to either shut down, or close for a few days each week. While we were there (mid-August), most places were closed from Sunday-Tuesday. They are definitely working building more low income housing units, but are unfortunately VERY delayed with construction as of now.
August is also a very slow time for ski towns. Kids go back in school so there are less visitors until it booms again in ski season.
Here are the top things to do in Crested Butte (we will update this after each time we visit):
Top Things to Do in Crested Butte
1.Take A Hike
Literally, get out and take a hike!
Rustler’s Gulch: by far one of the best hikes we have every been on. It is 8.8 miles (4.4 to the end and then 4.4 back) long, but I would rate it easy-moderate. If you have a SUV with good clearance, definitely take a right on the dirt road that leads to the trailhead and drive up as far as you can go. This will save you a mile overall (making the hike only 7.8 miles) and the first half a mile hike is at a pretty good incline on a dirt road. The beauty really starts at the trailhead, so you won’t miss anything by driving up. There is beauty at every corner. You have a gorgeous, in your face view of Maroon Bells the entire hike and you end it at a waterfall.
*I don’t recommend bringing kids on this hike. Not because it is too strenuous, but because it takes around 4-5 hours.
Crested Butte Summit: this one is NOT for the faint of heart. You can hike Crested Butte mountain to the summit or you can ride the Silver Queen Express up and then do a 1 mile hike to the summit from there. I would rate this moderately hard and 100% SCARY. If you are afraid of hikes this isn’t for you. The 1 mile to the summit is pretty steep and for the last half mile you are using your hands to climb rocks to the top of the mountain. I just had to tell myself not to look down and I nearly cried at the top from being so high up. On the way down I basically scooted on my butt and crawled like a spider. Troy wasn’t phased at all. It was one of the top things he has done, like ever! This one is a true adventure and thrill.
*do NOT carry kids in a carrier on this hike and I would recommend your child be at least 5 to attempt this.
Hikes We Didn’t Love:
Judd Falls: quick 2 mile hike (1 mile there and 1 mile back). It is super rocky the entire way, which is not pleasant hiking to me, and when you get to the falls there is one bench you can sit on to see the falls and that is it. There are no railings and it is pretty dangerous for small children. It was a pretty waterfall, so if you have never seen one before you could try this hike, but if you have seen waterfalls before I would skip it.
Hikes That Were Also Recommended:
These are on our list to do next time:
Copper Creek Trail to Copper Lake
Crested Butte to Aspen via West Maroon Pass (a local said it is best to go over the pass for about a mile and then turn around and come back to Crested Butte!)
2. How to Find Child Care
Care.com is always a great way to find child care in a new city. After you book them once through that you can get their phone number and work with them outside of care.com.
We also always find care by talking to local waitresses. They usually also nanny on the side or know of people who do.
3. Go Horseback Riding
We didn’t go horseback riding on this trip since the kids are still too young, but I highly recommend going when you are in town. I went one summer previously and it was so beautiful and fun! Call Fantasy Ranch and book a trail ride during your visit. (970) 349-5425
4. Explore Downtown
Downtown Crested Butte is so dang cute! There are TONSSS of restaurants, bars, boutiques, coffee shops, ice cream shops, etc for you to explore.
In the summertime they have a farmer’s market every Sunday that was so much fun!
Where to Eat:
Secret Stash: Ask to sit in the basement (coolest room ever). + their pizza is AMAZING
Montanya: This is a rum distillery but they also have amazing food! Don’t forget to order the Passion Fruit Sour to drink (so.dang.good!)
Places we didn’t love:
Ryce: maybe they were having an off night but we just didn’t really care for the food.
Paradise Cafe: also kind of a let down after all of the recommendations :/.
Places we wanted to try:
Sunflower: they were booked solid Friday and Saturday and were closed Sunday- Tuesday so we didn’t get to go!
Dogwood: so many said to go to Dogwood for cocktails but we completely forgot! Next time!
I am not a skier but apparently the slopes in CB are AMAZING! The town lights up around Christmas too and it is so much fun to be there at that time.
6. Drive Kebler Pass (summer or fall)
*picture taken from uncovercolorado.com
The drive from Crested Butte to Paonia passes West Beckwith Mountain, the best spot in the state to view foliage. With 50 square miles of golden aspens. In the summertime the fields are full of beautiful wild flowers.
7. Hit Up A Concert (summer)
Every week in the summertime you can see a different band perform for free during the Alpenglow concert series. It is located in the back of the Center of the Arts Building and is conveniently right next to a massive kid’s playground called Pirate Park. Bring chairs or blankets and you will be able to buy food (yes, alcohol too) and drinks while you are there. There is also tons for kids to do and play with while you are there as well!
That is all I have right now as far as the top things to do in Crested Butte! I will definitely keep adding to this post as we visit more and more (which I know we will do because we love it!)
If you have anything to add to the post, please list it in a comment below for other travelers interested in visiting CB!
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