Luxury holidays in Crested Butte

Crested Butte might be a warm-hearted ski town today, but it started life with the rough-and-ready character of the Wild West. Bank robber and ‘Wild Bunch’ leader Butch Cassidy once had to leave town in such a hurry that he left his pistols hanging on the bar at Kochevar’s, a watering hole that you can still drink in today. Fast forward a hundred years or so, and you’ll find that things are a little more domesticated. Strolling down Elk Avenue on a frosty evening, you can’t help but feel charmed by the frontier town-esque looks of the shops and restaurants, which are now painted in such bright colours that it seems like they’ve sprung up from the page of a child’s drawing. With warm light blazing from the windows and the scent of a dozen cuisines on the air, they have a truly magnetic pull, too. Cross the threshold and you’ll quickly meet the locals, an authentic, active bunch with life-long love affairs with the mountain. But Crested Butte isn’t all about the winter; unlike some ski towns, this one doesn’t empty when the snow melts. The terrain that makes it so good for snowsports is given over to mountain biking, whitewater rafting, hiking and horse-riding – all against a backdrop of moss-green mountains speckled with wildflowers. The surrounding area may be pure wilderness, but this resort town is rollicking all year round.

When to go

If you’re going for winter sports, January and February are the most reliable months. By mid-January, the snow base has had plenty of time to build up, and you’ll often get some good powder skiing in too. Be aware that January is usually the coldest month of the year, so don’t forget that woolly underwear. The summer months are also popular, bringing with them a bright bloom of wildflowers and pleasant temperatures that tend to hover around the mid-20’s (°C).

Getting there

  • Planes

    The closest airport is Gunnison, a 35-minute drive from Crested Butte. It’s a small, regional outpost, but there are daily flights from Denver and Houston IAH. The other option is Montrose, an hour and 50 minutes away by car. Services from Denver land there all year-round; flights from Dallas, Houston IAH, Phoenix and Chicago O’Hare are seasonal
  • Trains

    The Rio Grande railroad was a vital part of the town’s mining operation, hauling silver and coal along the East River Valley to the town of Gunnison and beyond. That gravy train dried up when the mines closed down, so you won’t hear the train rollin’ round the bend any time soon.
  • Automobiles

    A drive through the Rockies doesn’t involve endless miles of unchanging freeway; here, you’ll find yourself passing through a dramatic landscape of craggy peaks and river-filled valleys. In winter, be sure to check which roads are open, as they can close on short notice, especially after snowfall. The drive from Denver or Colorado Springs takes around four hours when the conditions are good.