Dubbed Colorado’s “last great ski town,” Crested Butte, or “CB” as the locals say, was a major coal-mining hub until 1952. These days, the town, anchored by Elk Avenue, is one of the country’s top winter destinations. Here’s where to eat, play and stay in the ski mecca, perched at nearly 9,000 feet.
For 15 years, The Secret Stash (303 Elk Ave.) has been serving up pizzas with a twist, including the Notorious F.I.G., topped with mozzarella, bleu and asiago cheeses, sliced prosciutto, dried black mission figs and truffle oil, and the olive oil-based You’re Driving Me Caprese, with large tomatoes, fresh basil, pickled red onion and balsamic reduction. The casbah-like eatery is dotted with colorful lanterns, ceramic Buddhas, stickers, old vinyl records and Colorado state flags. For après, order the Poor Boy Special: a slice of cheese pizza, a shot of well tequila and one Pabst Blue Ribbon for $6.
Unwind after a long day on the slopes at Montanya Distillery (212 Elk Ave.), which offers award-winning cocktails like Rum Sangria, Salty Dog or Cucumber Templar in a cozy tasting room. Or head to Dogwood Cocktail Cabin (309 Third St.), an old miner’s cabin tucked just off Elk Avenue, for house-infused libations like the Poco Loco, with pineapple, habañero, honey and lemon, or Up In Smoke, with mezcal and ruby-red grapefruit. Order the cabin-made pretzel with beer cheese and stone-ground mustard, or the chocolate fondue paired with fruit, white cheddar, bacon brittle, bread and gummy bears.
At First Ascent (21 Elk Ave.), choose from made-to-order coffees from Costa Rica, Panama and Ethiopia, made with an Alpha Dominche Steampunk coffee maker. For spicy chai and hot Ghirardelli cocoa, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, stop at Camp 4 Coffee (402 1⁄2 Elk Ave.).
Hit the trails
Conquer the snow on a fat bike from Big Al’s Bicycle Heaven (207 Elk Ave.). Looking for the right trail? Just ask the staff. The Strand Hill Trail is a moderately difficult 16.3-mile loop; beginners can depart from the shop and take the Lower Loop Trail, an easy, scenic single-track.
Peruse brands like Patagonia, Mountain Standard and Scratch Labs for camping, skiing and outdoor gear at Chop-wood Mercantile (120 Elk Ave.). The shop also stocks local goods, from hand-printed coaster ornaments from Sage8 Studio to vintage Crested Butte stickers and leather pint sleeves and lotions from the Colorado Real Soap Co. For advice on ski areas, equipment for snowshoeing and skiing and trails, head to The Alpineer (419 Sixth St.).
Dine with a view
Named after mining pioneer Uley Sheer, Uley’s Cabin and Ice Bar is a winter-only eatery on Crested Butte Mountain at the base of Twister Lift. Lunch and dinner menu selections include Scottish salmon with house-smoked bacon succotash and roasted tomato, and Rocky Mountain elk bourguignon with baby carrots, mushrooms and English peas, and there’s an outdoor ice-topped bar for cocktails. Reserve a storybook-like sleigh ride (pulled by a Sno-Cat) to the cabin, followed by a five-course meal.
Take a walk
On the last Thursday of every month, mingle with locals and join Art-Walk (from 5–8 p.m.) for a complimentary stroll through more than 11 art galleries, including Paragon Gallery and North Rim Glass. Pick up a map at ArtWalk’s head- quarters or look for the “ArtWalk Tonight” flags festooned outside participating galleries.
AN INSIDER’S FAVE RUNS
We asked Zachary Pickett, communications coordinator for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, for his top picks:
Best for Beginners: Houston
Beginner skiers and riders enjoy the wide, consistent runs o the Red Lady Express Lift, with no better starting spot than the Houston Trail. Featuring mellow grades and the ability to explore, Houston is an excel- lent stepping stone for those new to the sport.
Best for Families: Elko Park
Tucked away near the Prospect and Gold Link lifts, Elko Park is an undulating intermediate trail that is groomed to perfection. Families will love the wide trail and the feeling of privacy as this part of the mountain sees less traffic (but we can just keep that our little secret!). Before heading back for your second lap, grab a drink or bite to eat at the Umbrella Bar.
Best Views: Windy Gap
Just below the top terminal of the Silver Queen Express Lift, Windy Gap offers expansive views of the West Elk Mountain Range, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and Elk Mountain Range. This intermediate groomed run connects over to Paradise Bowl with views that truly make you feel like you’re actually there—in paradise.
Best for a Quad Workout: Crystal to Sylvanite
Crystal and Sylvanite are technically two individual trails, but together they make a long, quad-bursting bump run down nearly 2,000 vertical feet. These advanced trails are not groomed, but do offer a few bailouts if your legs are ready for a break.
Best for Showing Off: Resurrection
Resurrection is located directly underneath the East River Express Lift, offering you the chance to really show o your skills. This advanced bump run begins nice and mellow before rolling over into a steeper pitch with large bumps—and plenty of hecklers!
Best for Testing Your Mettle: Rambo
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is known for the 542 acres of Extreme Limits Terrain, but it is also home to the steepest-cut run in North America: Rambo. Be careful approaching the top of Rambo as it immediately pitches downward at a consistent 50 degrees all the way to the bottom. The run is straight, so your objective is clear, but don’t underestimate it!
Best with Access to Aprés: Peanut
The destination is the true prize at the end of Peanut. When you’re ready for a post-ski day libation, take Peanut over to the mid-mountain Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin (see details above). This green trail is mellow for the whole family, and the kid-friendly Ice Bar is a great place to cheer the day. Be responsible, though—you still need to get back to the base area.
Local’s tip: Lift tickets on the cheap
Pump gas at any Shell gas station outside Gunnison County and receive a voucher for a buy one, get one free lift ticket.