Crested Butte, Colorado

Written by on March 28, 2017 in CO Cities, Dining, Lodging - 1 Comment

Long before European settlers came to the area, Crested Butte was a stopping place for the Ute Indians. These seasonal travelers followed game into the area during the summers and sought more sheltered areas during the cold winter months.
Crested Butte, Colorado
The next people to explore the region were rugged mountain men, trapping beaver and selling the pelts for high prices to folks back east. Then in the 1860s, silver was discovered in the area and prospectors from all over came in search of this elusive precious metal. Oddly enough, what they found in abundance was coal. And so Crested Butte became the hub for dozens of mining camps in the area, since it had smelters, narrow gauge railroads and supplies of all kinds. The greatest of the silver camps during the town’s mining heyday were White Pine, Irwin, Tin Cup, Gothic and Pitkin. When the silver panic of 1893 hit, and prices dropped to almost nothing, these mining camps folded.

Fortunately for Crested Butte, coal remained a viable and necessary commodity so the coal mines boomed. In addition, the Crested Butte Valley was an ideal place for cattle ranching and it remains so today. It’s ability to survive the booms and busts of the mining era earned the town the nickname “the town that wouldn’t die.”

Crested Butte is actually two towns — the historic mining town of Crested Butte and the town of Mt. Crested Butte which encompasses the modern ski resort base area with its hotels spas, retail stores and restaurants. The two towns are connect by a very cool shuttle service, with distinctive hand-painted buses that operate around the clock. It was listed as one of the “10 Best Towns in America” by Outdoor Magazine.

Today, Crested Butte is supported mainly by tourism. Both summer and winter, Crested Butte is a Mecca for outdoor activities. In the summer, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and river rafting are popular and the scenery is wild and spectacular. Crested Butte is flanked on all sides by mountain including the imposing Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness Area and the West Elk Wilderness Area and access to these wild and wonderful areas is easy.

During the summer months, Crested Butte is worth visiting for two of its famous festivals…

  • The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival takes place in July. Folks from all over the world to view the wildflowers this town is famous for, and to take photos! There are dozens of hikes, lectures and crafting classes during week-long event.
  • The Festival of the Arts takes place in August. This is juried show with about 200 artists participating. Only the finest craftsmen are invited to attend.

During the winter, Crested Butte is magical, as the snow piles up in feet! Mt. Crested Butte ski area offers a plethora of winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, sleigh rides and more. It was listed as one of the “Top 20 Ski Towns” by Ski Magazine and was listed as the “Best Steeps, Trees and Powder” place by Skiing Magazine.

Much of the original architecture of the old mining town of Crested Butte remains today, giving the small community a great deal of charm, while the more modern Mt. Crested Butte has dynamite accommodations and dining. Crested Butte itself has no traffic lights in the main part of town, nor are there any chain stores. Charming boutiques, galleries and specialty shops line Elk Avenue, the main street through town, as well as some fantastic restaurants.

Nearby attractions include the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Curecanti National Recreation Area, The Grand Mesa and Silver Jack Reservoir.

Crested Butte Fun Facts

  • Population 1,500
  • Elevation 8,900 feet
  • Average Summer Temperature in July: 73 degrees.
  • Average Winter Temperature in January: -6 degrees
  • Crested Butte is one of the safest communities in the world. The number of violent crimes recorded by the FBI in 2003 was 2. The number of murders and homicides was 0.
  • Crested Butte was Ranked No. 4 on 50 Best Places to Live list by Men’s Journal magazine, 2002.
  • Legend says that many of the local features like Oh-Be-Joyful Peak, Creek and Wilderness were named after one of the most famous ladies of the evening, who was quite popular with the miners in the early days. Or maybe it was the other way around!

The Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association
202 East Georgia, Suite B
Gunnison, CO 81230
Phone: 970-641-7992,

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