When I think of Crested Butte, I think of skiing.
Last season, Crested Butte opened Teo 2, new hike-to terrain just east of Teocalli Bowl (hence the name), and an exciting addition to the resort’s stellar Extreme Limits – the North Face, Phoenix Bowl, Third Bowl and the Headwall.
Currently Teo 2 is hike-in and hike-out (bring skins if you can, it makes the outbound journey much easier). However, the resort has plans, already approved by the U.S. Forest Service, to add a lift and cut intermediate trails.
More than just an amazing mountain for skiing, Crested Butte is also a vibrant, dynamic town. It’s as unique a place as you’ll find anywhere.
Many of the town’s mining era buildings have been preserved, although miners wouldn’t recognize most of them today. Done up in brilliant colors with an eye toward the funky, they define the town’s character and charm. Bikes seem to outnumber cars, summer and winter and local dogs are widely known by name.
There’s absolutely nothing corporate or cookie-cutter about Crested Butte, whether we’re talking skiing and snowboarding, architecture, food or drink. And that’s why Crested Butte can legitimately call itself “the last great Colorado ski town.”
Ski ‘Til You Drop
If you’re in Crested Butte in winter, you most definitely came to ski and ride Crested Butte and that you will. I’ve written about family skiing at Crested Butte in the past. You can find my favorite post here. Otherwise, here is some basic information to get you oriented.
If you’re staying in Mount Crested Butte, walk to the base or catch a free shuttle from the condo areas. Shuttles from town run frequently and drop off on the edge of Mountaineer Square. From here, it’s just a quick walk to the Red Lady and Silver Queen Express lifts.
The Red Lady Express serves some of Crested Butte’s easier terrain. It’s also a quick way to get on mountain and over to East River, where the early morning sun shines brightest. This summer, logging crews were hard at work on East River, opening up additional intermediate terrain.
The Silver Queen Express takes you to the top of the mountain, with easy access to the front side steeps and bumps, the Twister lift, Paradise Bowl (the mountain’s intermediate playground) and the surface lift to the Headwall.
Take a look at the map. Pick your place and start skiing.
If you’re headed out into the bowls, the North Face or up to the Headwall, be aware of Crested Butte’s beacon policy. Basically, well-prepared skiers and riders (those with beacons) go first through the gates when the Extreme Limits open.
Explore the mountain on your first day.
With 1547 skiable acres, Crested Butte is large, but not daunting. It’s easy to get a taste for what each lift offers.
After that, it’s all about repeating, refining and redefining what it means to ski.
Fuel and Refuel
All this skiing and riding is going to make you hungry. Luckily, Crested Butte’s got you covered on-mountain and off.
New this season is the Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks. Located at the top of the Painter Boy, Prospect and Gold Link lifts, the Umbrella Bar offers cocktails, casual lunch fare and stunning views, from underneath a 35′ canopy.
For sit-down dining, head to Uley’s Cabin at the bottom of the Twister Lift. Named for Uley Sheer, a miner and moonshiner, the Cabin is also the home of the outdoor Ice Bar. Paradise On Crested Butte is a more casual option, bringing island breezes to the snow with Montanya Rum Hurricanes and Huli Huli Ribs, in addition to grill, salad and pasta stations.
Just a quick walk up a short hill at the resort base, you’ll find the Bakery at Mount Crested Butte, an institution for hungry skiers who prefer their food bready and filling. Look for hearty fare like deep dish pizza slices, bierocks and sausage rolls, as well as beer in the Brown Labrador Pub (kids are welcome at lunch).
In Town Fare
In town, you won’t go wrong with The Ginger Café, offering sumptuously healthy pan-Asian delights. The Secret Stash is a long-time favorite for creative pizza. Now in a larger location, it’s also less of a secret (but much easier to get in). Finally, for solid, delicious ski town classics, look for The Last Steep, serving fish tacos, teriyaki bowls, coconut shrimp and, of course, burgers.
Also, don’t miss Teocalli Tamale, a walk-up-and-order southwestern restaurant serving lunch and dinner. But be aware: on powder days they open late.
Tamales can wait. There’s skiing to be done.
A Cocktail Town
Yes, a major beer company tried to turn Crested Butte into generic “Whatever, USA” in 2014.
Luckily for us, it didn’t stick. While there’s nothing pretentious about Crested Butte, cocktails make for the best drinking in town.
The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin
A half-block north of the corner of Elk and 3rd Avenues, you’ll find the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin. Located in an aptly named, rambling shanty of a building, the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin serves up unique beverages, many mixed with in-house fruit and vegetable infusions.
Don’t miss the popular Beetnik Martini, a garnet-hued combination of beet-infused vodka, ginger and lemon and served straight up. Mr. Pink, a blend of pink peppercorn vodka, peaches and champagne (called bubbles on the menu) is the choice of owner Sarah Jane Lubeley. And the menu goes well beyond these two, featuring vodka, gin, whiskey, rum and tequila-based drinks.
Non-infused cocktails can be made virgin, but you can’t come into the Cabin unless you’re over 21.
Montanya Rum Distillers
But for a full menu of options, and a welcoming, warm atmosphere, visit Montanya Rum on Elk Avenue.
Feeling cold and looking to be warmed from the inside out?
Mosey on in and order a Maharaja Martini. A distinctively tasty and warming combination of Montanya Oro Rum, North Indian chai spices, freshly pressed ginger, fresh lime and cardamom, it’s the perfect après drink and the distillery’s most popular martini.
All Montanya rum, every drop of it, is made on site, from scratch, using Louisiana cane sugar and Louisiana molasses.
As at the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin, the Montanya Rum drink menu is extensive, wholly unique and local. It’s unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else.
Which is how I feel about Crested Butte: the skiing, the town, the dining and the cocktails.
Portions of this post originally published at Colorado Ski Country USA.
More Crested Butte:
- Crested Butte: Great Family Skiing From Beginner to Extreme, March 10, 2011.
- Why We All Love to Ski Crested Butte, Colorado, November 30, 2010.
- Keep Looking Ahead: Family Biking at Crested Butte’s Evolution Park, September 3, 2015.
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