Crested Butte Family Vacation: Where to Stay & Play in Colorado’s Playground
posted by: Amber Johnson
Crested Butte has long been my family’s favorite outdoor playground in Colorado. Sure, it’s a 4.5-hour drive from Denver but that’s part of the charm of this historic town that was originally settled in the 1880s as a mining supply camp. Nestled in the Gunnison National Forest in southwest Colorado, there are no I-70 traffic jams here, only unlimited adventures. And there’s so much charm oozing from this quirky, multi-hued National Historic District with burgeoning flowers spilling from the hanging baskets and the outer-world beauty of Red Lady (Mount Emmons).
Heralded as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” Crested Butte’s Wildflower Festival July 8-17, 2022 showcases not only the dramatic scenery of the Paradise Divide but over 200 workshops–from garden tours to birding and butterflies to photography to culinary and medicinal classes.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is open daily from June 11-September 5; Friday-Sunday September 6-25, 2022. Here is where to stay and play in Crested Butte for your 2022 Colorado summer vacation
Hiking and Biking
Eighty percent of the land surrounding Crested Butte Mountain Resort is open space. Snodgrass Mountain boasts stunning views of Mount Crested Butte with a few different trails for all levels. One of the nation’s most renowned high-altitude field stations, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, is in Gothic, just 4 miles from Crested Butte. During a previous visit, my kids spent a morning at their Nature Camp with a curriculum that delves deep into the surrounding ecosystems. Gothic Valley’s backcountry is not to be missed and mountain bikers populate Gothic Road in their pilgrimage to their famous Mecca: Trail 401. The main drag connects to Aspen via Schofield Pass, a precarious four-wheel-drive road.
If you’re looking for a challenge, Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s vast trail network has 30+ miles of singletrack to complement the more than 750 miles open to mountain biking in the Gunnison Valley. Hitch a ride from the Silver Queen Lift (at additional cost) where hikers can easily summit the iconic 12,162-foot Crested Butte Mountain in just a couple of hours.
If you feel the need for speed, the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park has a diverse network of trails for both lift-served downhill and cross-country rides that connects to some of Crested Butte’s most epic riding. Does anyone else need to brush up on their skills? The pump track at the base area includes flowy rollers and small berms to get riders comfortable on varied terrain. A second Skills Zone is at the top of the Red Lady Express with slightly bigger features for riders.
New this year, CBMR is partnering with the Crested Butte Development Team (CB Devo) for all upper-level youth mountain bike team programming. CB Devo has a proven record of providing excellent coaching and programs for youth riders so be sure to check it out! Also, if you love to adventure a bit later, the resort’s popular Twilight Rides are back from 5-7 p.m. on select holidays and weekends.
The Adventure Park
In the olden days (a.k.a. when I was a wee one), ski resorts were just for skiing and I am endlessly thrilled many base areas have transformed into summer fun zones. CBMR’s Adventure Park offers rock climbing, panning for gems, bungee trampolines and a climbing wall that features a 28-foot-tall tower with auto-belay. And, of course, the adjacent Scenic Chairlift rides on the Red Lady or Silver Queen Express lifts that whisk you to the top of the Gunnison Valley.
3D Archery Course
CBMR offers a 20-target archery course at the top of the Red Lady Express for archers to practice their skills all summer long. Lifelike 3-D targets of mule deer, whitetail deer, black bear, fox, coyote and elk are set amongst the beautiful mountain landscape in a format that appeals to all ability levels. The loop from the lift covers approximately 1.5 miles and returns archers to the top of the chairlift, where they can download back to the base area. Archers are required to bring their own equipment and sign a waiver at the bottom of the Red Lady Express or at the top of the sight-in range. Guests can hike or ride the Red Lady Express to the sight-in range. The archery course is free with a lift ticket or a $5 dollar donation if guests hike in.
Disc Golf Courses
CBMR’s disc golf course, 10-3 @ CB, is named after the course’s high-alpine elevation of 10,300 feet. It’s 18 holes of pure fun for beginners and seasoned players alike. Named one of the top 25 courses in America, the course begins at the top of the Red Lady Express Lift and meanders to within easy strolling distance of the base area. In addition, CBMR offers a short course accessed from the top of the Red Lady Express with amazing views of Mt. Crested Butte. The course loops back to the Red Lady Express once you have completed your round. Rental discs are available at the Adventure Center.
Mount Crested Butte Summer Concert Series
One of the things I missed most during the early days of the pandemic was live music and there is no place more magical (or with a more beautiful backdrop) than the Mt. Crested Butte Summer Concert Series. Guests are welcome to join on Wednesday evenings for free music at the base of the resort. The 2022 lineup is set to begin on June 29 and finishes on August 17.
Adaptive Sports Center
Accessibility in the outdoors is so important and I love seeing people of all ability levels (and their families) at Crested Butte thanks to their Adaptive Sports Center. The resort offers one of the only downhill mountain biking programs in the world for people with disabilities. Their extensive summer program also includes boating, cycling, rock climbing and horseback riding.
Lodge at Mountaineer Square
We have stayed in a number of places in Crested Butte and hands down, the Lodge at Mountaineer Square is our FAVORITE base camp, just steps from the ski lifts. Families can choose from one-, two-, or three-bedroom condos, studio rooms or hotel rooms. The Lodge even has a four-bedroom penthouse suite with breathtaking, aerial views of the valley. Amenities include enclosed heated parking, a business center, a fitness center, a sauna, hot tub, and a heated indoor/outdoor pool with adjacent restaurants and shopping.
The Grand Lodge
The Grand Lodge Hotel and Suites is only 200 yards from the slopes and offers exceptional amenities including the Wildflower Spa, an indoor/outdoor heated pool, a hot tub, steam room, and a business center. The Grand Lodge and Lodge at Mountaineer Square offer easy access to the main Transit Center, which provides free shuttle service to the town of Crested Butte. This full-service hotel features 228 spacious rooms and suites, most with
resort kitchenettes, and 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
My family has purchased the Epic Season Pass for the past few years and membership has its privileges! Did you know if you buy your 2022-23 Epic Pass now, you’ll get discounts on many of their summer activities? The Epic Local Pass is available for $626 for the 2022/23 season, and the Epic Pass is available for $841, providing unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at all of Vail Resorts’ owned and operated resorts.