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Crested Butte

Crested Butte Ski Resort Guide

Crested Butte, United States

Rated: 3/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForExpert Skiers, Snowboarders, Snowfall and Apres-Ski!
Highest Lift3,620m
Resort Height2,860m
 Nearest AirportsGunnison-Crested Butte and Montrose
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Crested Butte

One of the few US resorts with a reputation for expert standard descents including the steepest lift-served off-piste terrain in the US. Crested Butte is a wonderful and truly unspoilt Colorado mountain town. Annually hosts the US Extreme Ski & Snowboarding Championships. Crested Butte also hosted the 1998 and 1999 ESPN Winter X Games. It also boasts the the US's largest powdercat fleet nearby.


The American ski resort of Crested Butte is at an altitude of 2,860m.

Crested Butte has direct access to 85 marked pistes, served by a total of 15 ski lifts.

The ski resort itself is at 2,860m, so skiing or boarding back to the resort is usually possible. With ski lifts as high as 3,620m, skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Crested Butte?

The next notable snow forecast is 3cm, expected on 2 October.

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Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Crested Butte

Ski Area Stats

Crested Butte Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Black Pistes
Expert Trails
Red Pistes
Intermediate Runs
Blue Pistes
Easy Trails
Green Pistes
Beginner Runs
Cross Country
Total Length
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts


Crested Butte Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift3,620m
Resort Altitude (Crested Butte)2,860m
Lowest Piste2,770m
Max Vertical850m

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Crested Butte
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers

Crested Butte Overview

One of the world's classic ski resorts, Crested Butte has managed to maintain a long history and a genuine feeling of community combined with some of the world's best skiing, served by a state-of-the-art lift system. Few visitors to the place, be they veterans of dozens, even hundreds of ski centres around the world, will fail to be struck by the feeling that here they've found somewhere unique - as at Chamonix, Zermatt or Wengen.

Located at the head of a valley (rather than along the side of a big dual-carriageway road running across the state as many other Colorado resorts seem to be), it is a world away from, well, most of the rest of the world! The surrounding scenery of spectacular mountain peaks and the peaceful location add to Crested Butte's magic.

The resort has hit the skiing headlines in the '90s thanks to its wonderful 'Extreme Limits' ski terrain. This is an excellent idea whereby a large chunk (550 acres) of 'fairly extreme' to 'very extreme' off-piste terrain is set aside for the enjoyment of all skiers competent enough to ride the button tow lift that accesses it. But, unlike most off-piste experiences, there is, eventually, a fence to stop you venturing in to areas of certain death and also patrollers making sweeps of the area. The result is a very successful compromise between the dangers of venturing off-piste in unpatrolled areas and the normal restrictions of staying on the piste.

Fortunately Crested Butte's 'special status' doesn't end on the mountain. Although the accommodation, shops and restaurant complex at the bottom of the slopes are your run-of-the-mill, comfortable, efficient, everything-you-need-to-hand type US base buildings, the old town of Crested Butte, five minutes drive away, is again a unique attraction. This old mining town, that never quite died between the end of mining and the start of skiing as others did, is Colorado's largest National Historic District and looks much as it did a century ago. It even has antique lamplight in the evenings to help add to the ambience of the place.

Miners working in the gold mines above the town used to ski back down in the evenings and today the resort's marketing department is keen to point out that people have skied at Crested Butte longer than they have driven cars, flicked on light switches or even flushed toilets!

You can really feel that love of winter sports in the air as soon as you arrive at the place. The 2001/2002 ski season marks the resort's 40th anniversary. The Callaway and Walton families have owned the resort for 30 of these years, so the celebrations will have a suitably family orientated bias.

 Notable Ski Runs

The longest possible descent in Crested Butte is 4km long and the most difficult run is the 'Rambo 56 Degree, 500ft vertical.'.


There is a popular misconception that, because Crested Butte has some of the toughest terrain anywhere, it only suits expert skiers. Some reviewers have been a little more accurate, claiming it's a choice of beginner or expert terrain with nothing in between. The reality is that Crested Butte has a very well designed mix of terrain for all standards, including miles of intermediate level piste and lots of steep marked pistes for advanced and expert skiers, include some spectacular bumps runs. Of course the 550 acres of 'back country style' Extreme Limits terrain is a unique asset, and one of the resort's few short lift lines can develop as the best skiers queue patiently to ride the surface tow up to the access point. The resort particularly decided to use this type of lift to prevent overcrowding and accidental access of Extreme Limits, and to dissuade skiers not confident enough to ride the lift in a country where chairs are the norm.

More advanced intermediates can tackle the easiest sections of the Extreme Limits terrain, although they're best to go in with someone who knows it in order to make sure they stick to sections within their ability level. Otherwise there are miles of varied trail terrain to suit the most avid piste basher. Skiers of all standards above intermediate may also consider taking a snowcat over to Irwin Lodge, the legendary powder skiing centre located 12 miles from Crested Butte and has North America's, and probably the world's, largest powder cat fleet. Here skiers have more than 2400 acres and over 700 vertical metres (2000 feet) of vertical off-piste powder terrain to delight in.

Back on the pistes of Crested Butte beginners have the big area above the resort base to enjoy - a vast terrain of wide, tree-lined slopes with gentle gradients. The Keystone trail is especially well suited to them. The ski school offers a 'Beginners Shortcut' course which includes a 3hr lesson with a lift ticket and specially designed Elan skis. The inclusive price is low and successfully learning the basics is guaranteed. If you don't reach an agreed standard you can either keep taking lessons for free until you do or get a full refund.

Of course there are numerous other tuition programs for existing skiers, included those led by Kim Reichhelm, who has held pretty well every extreme skiing title available, starred in ski movies and so on. She hosts women's ski adventures (for all ability levels) whilst race camps, extreme skiing clinics and 'adventures on the edge' - such as ski mountaineering - are all available.

There are a variety of pistes to suit all levels of skier ability, from Beginner to Expert.


As with skiing, Crested Butte has a reputation for the extreme with numerous Extreme Snowboarding national and international contest staged here, the Extreme Limits terrain open to 'boarders as much as skiers.

Beginners will enjoy the easy terrain around the base with long fast Keystone chairlift access and lots of little terrain features to gain confidence on.

The fun-park has been improved gradually and now includes 3 rails and 3 jumps, in addition to a well groomed half-pipe. There are several good 'boarder stores at the base and downtown.

Location and Map

Where is Crested Butte?

This ski resort is in Gunnison, Colorado, United States.


Tap Show Map in Full Screen for Full-Screen, or see J2Ski's Resort map, showing Hotels and Ski Shops.

How to get there

 By Air

The nearest airport to Crested Butte is Gunnison-Crested Butte, 42 minutes drive away.

Montrose airport is also within three hours drive.

Gunnison-Crested Butte is just one hours drive away, in good driving conditions, so you can be on the piste quickly.


Ski Lift Capacity

The 15 ski lifts are able to uplift 17,500 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Snow Making

Snow-making is available, with 40 snow cannons.

Season Dates

When is Crested Butte open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is late November, and usual closing is Early April.

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Crested Butte, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Crested Butte Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Crested Butte

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

The normal North American mixture of hotel bars and restaurants and lively bar-restaurants are to be found in Crested Butte. Again many have a more genuine and relaxed feel to them than at the more 'mainstream' Colorado destinations. There is a small local brewery, that serves a good selection of its own beers and good food - the Idle Spur.

Kochevar's is usually lots of fun - a wild west saloon where Butch Cassidy left a gun whilst he and The Sundance Kid were being chased. There's also nightlife on offer at the Eido and Talk Of The Town. Ski area apres ski is available at The Rafters, located, conveniently, at the Base Area.

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