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Crested Butte is sometimes overshadowed by the some of the more famous Colorado mountain resorts. However this little town, is like finding a secret gem tucked away in the mountains. Although there is a ski area, you will find so many fun things to do in Crested Butte year round. In fact, fall is the most spectacular time to visit with the golden aspen leaves.

This little mining town may be known as a skiing destination, but there are golden nuggets of amazing finds that you can bring your family to.

About Crested Butte

Crested Butte, which is located just north of the town of Gunnison. It was founded as a mining town in 1880, on land previously inhabited by the Ute nation. The mountains surrounding it were initially known as the “crested buttes,” giving the land its name. Crested Butte outlasted similar mining towns of its era, in part because it served as a supplier for other hard rock mining operations.

Crested Butte’s economic base turned from mining to skiing, beginning in 1960. Today, the town is considered a year-round vacation destination. Crested Butte’s current permanent population is 1487, as of 2019.

What Are Family-Friendly Things to Do in Crested Butte, Colorado?

Kebler Pass

View along Kebler Pass in Crested Butte, Colorado
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Kebler Pass

This well-known mountain pass is on provides a shortcut between Crested Butte and Paonia to nearby Aspen. It is a beautiful drive in itself and runs through Gunnison National Forest, making it great for viewing the natural beauty. 

We recommend planning your trip during the fall foliage season to make the most out of the beautiful drive. In fact, I was shocked (in a good way) at the huge healthy stands of aspen trees in this area.

This road is often used by both cars and bikes, but it can be rough in areas. The pass is only partially paved and closed in the winter.

You can find several campgrounds along this two-hour route. We also suggest the private Kebler Campground right at the start of the pass in Paonia. (Some people rented our trailer and stayed here for hunting season)

  • Website 
  • Location: CO 133, Colorado 81230
  • Hours: Kebler pass is open 24/7.
  • Cost: Free, campgrounds may charge
  • Any discounts: not applicable.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort

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via Canva

Crested Butte is a common destination for people looking for a ski adventure and one of the favorite ski resorts is Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Most tourists make this resort as their base for their ski vacation.

This is a favorite family go-to partly because of it Ski and Ride School with lessons for all ages, including young children (mostly indoors).

When planning your visit to Crested Butte Mountain Resort, it is advised to book lift tickets in advance. The resort’s EPIC passes offer many benefits including trip insurance. For multi-day stay at the resort, there are multiple lodge options, some of which are open year-round, as well as nearby rental properties.

  • Website
  • Location: 81225 Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado 81225
  • Hours: The lodge desks are open 24/7, Adventure Center is closed for the summer, other hours vary, see website for details.
  • Cost: Lift tickets, lessons, equipment rental, and lodging prices vary. See website for details.
  • Any discounts: Season passes available, see website for details.

Crested Butte Nordic Center

If you prefer Nordic (cross-country) to Alpine (downhill) skiing, then the Crested Butte Nordic Center, a resort devoted to Nordic skiing is for you. The Crested Butte Nordic Center is regarded as one of the ten best Nordic skiing resorts in the country. And in addition to skiing, offers snowshoeing, “fat biking” (using special bikes with low-pressure tires designed for use in snow)

The Crested Butte Nordic Center offers many amenities to its guests. For example, you can ski or snowshoe to the nearby yurt dining for a meal. The resort offers equipment rentals, lessons, and (online)“hot to get started” videos. It also hosts special events throughout the year, including the annual “Citizen race.”

  • Website
  • Location: 620 2nd Street, PO Box 1269.Crested Butte, CO 81224
  • Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, hours of lessons and tours may vary. See website for details.
  • Cost: $ 20 day for a pass, equipment rental varies. See website for details.
  • Any discounts: Seniors, 65-70, $16, Super Seniors (71 and over), free; children $10, dogs $7, fat bikes, free. Season passes also available. See website for details.

Meridian Lake

This beautiful mountain lake is also known as Long Lake because of its distinctive shape. It is a popular summer to fall hiking destination, not far from Aspen, and is a great place to view wildflower viewing in season.

Make sure to bring extra clothes for the kids if you plan a day trip here because swimming is allowed in the lake and who could resist a nice fun bath, right?

Choose between the two access points to the lake. The shorter one is via the Dirt Parking lot in the north, and a longer hike via the Tennis Court parking lot by the south.

  • Website
  • Location: Meridian Lake Drive, Colorado 81124
  • Hours: The lake is open 24/7.
  • Admission: Free
  • Any discounts: Not applicable

Lower Loop Mountain Bike Trail

The Lower Loop Mountain Bike Trail is a beginner-friendly biking trail close to town. Though know as a biking trail, it is alternatively known as the “Woods Walk,” because of the walkers and joggers who also frequent the area. It offers views of Crested Butte Mountain and Peanut lake. You can access the trail from multiple roads, including Butte avenue, and Elk Avenue.

Just a reminder that e-bikes aren’t allowed in this biking trail.

  • Website
  • Location: Peanut Lake Rd, Crested Butte, CO 81224
  • Hours: 24/7
  • Admission: Free
  • Any discounts: Not applicable

Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum

Red and white Western wooden welcome sign of Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum Museum Store
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Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum

The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum is a local history and heritage museum, with a very deep history starting from its building. Long known as Tony’s Conoco building, it started out as a blacksmith shop, then became a garage and then a hardware store, before eventually becoming the museum building in 2003.

The museum’s exhibits are regularly updated and include a model town and railroad, history of skiing, mountain biking, and a children’s exhibit.

  • Website
  • Location: 31 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, CO 81224
  • Hours: Sun—Thurs, 11 AM-5 PM, Fri-Sat. 11 AM-6 PM
  • Cost: $5 admission
  • Discounts: Museum members and children free

The Trailhead Children’s Museum

This may say Children’s Museum in its name, but it sure is a guarantee that not only children will enjoy this golden nugget in Crested Butte. Even older children or the parents can have fun here.

If you have younger kids, we recommend visiting this museum mainly because they have hands-on educational exhibits and guided learning activities catered to very young children including babies and toddlers.

Programs include Arts and Science Camps and after-school classes. This museum, which has recently moved to a new location, also has rental space available for birthday parties.

  • Website
  • Location: 606 6th Street (old Center for the Arts building) Crested Butte, CO 81224
  • Hours: Wed-Sat, 10 AM- 4 PM
  • Cost: Day Pass, $7 kids, $4 adults
  • Discounts: Punch passes and family memberships available. See website for details.

Fantasy Ranch Sleigh Rides

The Fantasy Ranch Sleigh Rides is part of a year-round ranch that offers horseback riding in most seasons, including the recent addition of winter horseback rides. The Ranch’s most distinctive offering is its sleigh rides. During the ski season, this outfit offers 30 (one-horse open) sleigh rides from Almont ranch. Sleighs can hold up to four adults and two children.

  • Website
  • Location: Almont Resort 10209 highway 135Almont, Co. 81210
  • Hours: Sleigh rides most days 11 AM and 12 p.m., Winter horseback rides, 1-3 p.m. Mon-Fri.
  • Cost: Sleigh rides are $150 per sleigh. Winter horse rides are $85 per person. For other seasonal rides, see the website.
  • Any discounts: Information unavailable.

Brush Creek Trail

The Brush Creek Trail is a beginner-friendly trail that is suitable for hiking and mountain biking. This looped trail offers views of aspen groves and wildflowers along the way.

We recommend keeping to the side and looking out when you decide to walk this trail. This is frequented by cyclists and hikers alike.

  • Website
  • Location: Crested Butte, CO 81224
  • Hours: The trail is open 24/7.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Any discounts: Not applicable.

Walrod Cave Loop Trail

The Walrod Cave Loop Trail was described as a short and moderately popular hike. Sights along the trail include wildflowers and it is especially good for hiking and birdwatching. The best time to use this trail is between April and October.

We recommend checking out the caves that you can check out along the trail for the extra kick of adventure.

  • Website
  • Location: 1294 CO road 740, Crested Butte, CO 81224
  • Hours: The trail is open 24/7.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Any discounts: Not applicable.

Silver Queen Express Chairlift

During the winter, the Silver Queen Express Chairlift is an important part of the Crested Butte Ski Resort’s operations. But during the summer months, the chairlift simply becomes a fun summer ride. Chairlift rides are available roundtrip or one way if you prefer to hike down the mountain. Rides are subject to the weather.

If you have smaller children that needs carrying, we recommend not trying this. But if your children are older, this is a great fun ride for the family.

  • Website
  • Location: 12 Snowmass Road, Crested Butte, CO 81225
  • Hours: Daily during the summer. 8:30 AM-2 PM
  • Cost: Adults 13-64, $25
  • Any discounts: Seniors 65 and over, $24, children 5-12, $22, children four and younger, free.

Upper Upper Loop Trail

This 7.6-mile trail is described as “lightly trafficked” and moderate in difficulty. The trail offers a good view of Crested Butte and plenty of wildflowers and aspens to see, Dogs permitted, but must be leashed. The best time to use the Upper Upper Loop trail is between May and October and may be closed for winter weather.

  • Website
  • Location: Colorado 81124
  • Hours: The trail is open 24/7.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Any discounts: Not applicable.

Copper Creek Trail

This twelve-mile trail is moderately trafficked and described as being slightly difficult. The trail takes you to the beautiful Copper Lake, and other highlights along it include a waterfall. The best time to use the Copper Creek Trail is between June and October.

  • Website
  • Location: 8000 Co Rd 317, Crested Butte, CO 81224
  • Hours: The trail is open 24/7.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Any discounts: not applicable

West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway.

This scenic byway begins in Crested Butte and runs for 205 miles, linking Crested Butte with Gunnison and other towns in the region. Along the way, it takes you to or past multiple sites and national parks, including the Gunnison National Forest and National Park, the White River, and Crawford and Paonia State Parks. A 31-mile gravel stretch of the byway is closed during the winter.

Website
Location: CO-65, Cederage, CO 81413
Hours: The byway is open 24/7.
Cost: Free.
Any discounts: Not applicable.

Snodgrass Ski Mountain Trail

If you enjoy skiing, but not the crowd, there is a smaller skiing area three miles away from the better-known Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The Snodgrass Skiing trail is much less crowded than CBMR and provides just as good skiing experience.

The area is open to the backcountry and Nordic skiing as well as snowshoeing and fat biking. It offers low-angle skiing, which makes it especially good for beginners. 

The Snodgrass Ski Area is free and on open land (no private property to worry about), but because it is not a resort, it requires a certain degree of caution and self-reliance.

  • Website
  • Hours: The skiing area is open 24/7; use common sense.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Any discounts: Not applicable.

What Is the Weather like in Crested Butte?

Summers in Crested Butte are described as “comfortable and dry,” and winters as “freezing and snowy.” Therefore, while skiing visits are complete with plenty of gear in the winter. The best time in my opinion to visit is early September. The Kebler Pass is still open, the fall colors are spectacular and the weather is cool but sunny.

Weather in Crested Butte is also partially cloudy year-round, typical of the region. The average high is 75 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, and average low is -8 degrees Fahrenheit in winter.

Getting to Crested Butte, Colorado.

Crested Butte is reachable by car via I-70 from the East, and multiple routes to choose from if arriving from the West, with Highways 50 and 285 recommended routes. The nearest major city is Denver. In the summer, you can get to Crested Butte from Denver by taking I-70, then exiting onto Highway 470 West and from there to Route 285 South.

Recommended routes may vary seasonally, and proper tires are advised in winter.

If you prefer to fly, Crested Butte is home to the Crested Butte/Gunnison Regional Airport, which has direct flights from Denver and other major cities. The next nearest airports are Montrose Regional Airport, which is two hours away, and Denver International Airport, which is 4.5 hours away.

Pinterest image of Things to do in Crested Butte, Colorado with Kebler Pass View and Town front
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Things to do in Crested Butte, Colorado

Final thoughts on Things to do in Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte, Colorado, is a great skiing town, but it is also much more. Its outdoor recreation offerings are not limited to skiing and are available year-round.

If you have different interests, there are also museums and other sites to enjoy. If you have been to Crested Butte recently, what activity did you enjoy the most?

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    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  We travel with kids and extended family.  I take the kids by myself sometimes because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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