We were looking for a mountain town to drive to for Labor Day weekend. We loved Crested Butte so much, that we went back for the next two Labor Day weekends. Check out our Crested Butte travel guide below!
How we traveled there
We drove from Denver which takes about four hours. There are multiple ways to get there; I-70 to US 24 or US HWY 285. Most of 285 is two lanes (one lane in each direction) so if there is an accident or heavy traffic it can add hours to your trip. If neither of those happens then we find 285 ends up being faster. In the summer you can drive through Cottonwood Pass to get to Crested Butte which is very scenic (Cottonwood Pass/Highway 306 is closed in the winter).
Where we stayed
The Crested Butte Ski Resort is a 5-10 minute drive from the town of Crested Butte. There is a free shuttle that will take you between the town and the resort. There are many houses and condos you can rent 20 minutes outside of town, especially if you have a large group.
- Nordic Inn – it is located in the ski resort area. It has two queen beds and a large living room where you could fit a blow-up mattress. There were two hot tubs outdoors as well. We could walk to the shuttle to head into the town of Crested Butte.
- San Moritz Condos – This was a two-bedroom VRBO on the ground floor with a sliding door to walk outside. You could fit a blow-up mattress in the living room if needed. It is a ski-in/ski-out right next to the West Wall chairlift which also has hiking trails in the summer. This was a dog-friendly rental and we worked from here with no Wi-Fi issues.
What activities we did
- Meridian Lake – This is a quick hike to a lake where people bring paddle boards and lunch. You can swim in the water or walk along it. Most of the hike is at a steep incline but it doesn’t take long to get to the lake. Dog friendly.
- Judd Falls – This had minimal elevation gain and ended at a waterfall. Dog friendly.
- Prospector Trail – This is a hike up a ski run which is mostly switchbacks. It ends at the Umbrella Bar however the day I went it was closed. The view of the ski mountain made the hike worth it. I went on a Friday and only saw a handful of other people on the trail. Dog friendly.
- Woods Walk – This trail is close to the town and has very minimal elevation gain. It is beautiful when the leaves start to change. The hike is dog-friendly, but there was minimal shade so keep that in mind if you bring your dog.
Paddleboarding – We rented a paddleboard from Wheelies and Waves Adventure Company in town, strapped it to the roof of our car then headed to Lake Irwin. Lake Irwin has plenty of parking right next to the lake. We brought some camping chairs and took turns paddling on the lake. The view is very scenic. There is a mountain next to the lake. Dog friendly.
Boating – We rented a boat on the Taylor Park Reservoir at the Taylor Park Marina. It was affordable and had beautiful mountain views. We’ve also had friends go boating on the Blue Mesa Reservoir which they recommend.
Shopping – Crested Butte has some really cute locally-owned stores on Elk Avenue. Some favorites are:
- Mountain Tails – pet supply store
- Scouts General Store
- Willow Interior Decor
- Milky Way
- Favor the Kind
UTV – We rented this from Colorado Adventure Rentals and rode out into the backcountry. They have everything you need and provide a map of where you can go in the area.
Where we ate
- The Secret Stash – They make gourmet pizza and have gluten-free crust and vegan options. They do not take reservations, so we recommend putting in your name and walking around to the nearby stores while you wait. They also offer pizzas to-go. It is worth the hype and is a Crested Butte must.
- Bonez – This is a taco bar with cool decor. There is usually a wait to eat here so we’d recommend putting your name in and walking around town.
- Pitas in Paradise – This is a casual and quick Mediterranean restaurant with a patio
- Thai Chilli 78 – We love this spot for Thai food
- Farmers Market – On Sundays, Elk Avenue has vendors selling all kinds of items including spices, food, and drinks
Where we drank
- Camp 4 Coffee – Coffee shop
- The Dogwood – Speakeasy with craft cocktails
- Talk Of The Town – Dive bar that plays sports games and has a pool table upstairs
- Kochevar’s Saloon – Dive bar with pool and darts
- Montanya Distillers – Rum distillery with cocktails and live music
What we recommend knowing/preparing
- Elk Avenue is the main street in the town. If you walk along Elk Ave you will find plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. There are a lot of cool shops to wander into.
- Crested Butte is known for their wildflowers which typically bloom in June
- We have heard Crested Butte is a beautiful place to see the leaves change in the fall
What we didn’t do but looked into
- Green Lake Trail – A 9-mile hike that starts in the town and ends at a lake
What we packed
We have only been to Crested Butte in the summer. We wore hiking gear during the day and casual clothes at night. Since it’s in the mountains it does get chillier at night. We recommend bringing a light jacket or sweater. Check out our recommendations for travel clothing and essentials.
We hope you enjoyed our Crested Butte travel guide. Leave a comment below or contact us for any questions. If you are looking to explore more of Colorado, then you should also check out our post on Steamboat Springs.