Locals’ tips for a Crested Butte ski trip

One of the biggest contributions to Crested Butte’s self-proclaimed title as the “last great Colorado ski town,” is its locals. Friendly, eclectic and passionate for the outdoors and the local community, Crested Butte locals are always willing and happy to share their piece of paradise with visitors.  This welcoming spirit is why we had an easy time pinning down a couple locals to spill their ski-vacation tips and secrets below.

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Because Crested Butte is renowned for its “towny” vibe and variety of locally owned shops and restaurants, experiencing this destination like a local ensures you’re going to have a truly authentic ski trip. Experience the best of Crested Butte with these local recommendations.


We asked three locals to share their favorite places to eat, ski, shop, recreate and let loose in Crested Butte…

how to ski Crested Butte local guide

William Dujardin

CBMR athlete, freeride coach + editor for West Elk Project

locals Crested Butte guide

Kaitlyn Archambault

Backcountry skier + paralegal at Huckstep Law, LLC

Flavors

Where do you go for the best coffee?

First Ascent (at the end of Elk Avenue in downtown Crested Butte). Here, you can enjoy a full espresso bar or coffee made from single-origin SteamPunk siphon machines.

Camp4Coffee (located in the Lodge at Mountaineer Square) or Rumors (on Elk Avenue). You can’t go wrong at either, except the line can be longer at Camp4.

First Ascent.

Where do you go for a good breakfast?
Izzy’s if you have time to hang out in downtown CB. If I’m in a hurry to get to the slopes, I go to Gas Cafe.
Paradise Cafe (located on Elk Avenue).
Breakfast burrito in my pocket to enjoy after skinning up the hill! Or the Sunflower Cafe in town.

 

Where do you go for a great family dinner?
The Last Steep in downtown CB. Something for everyone, and has a laid-back, local atmosphere.
Secret Stash (on Elk Avenue)! Get stash wings and Spicy Wais.
The Last Steep. There’s something for everyone.

 

Where do you go for a romantic dinner?
The Sunflower for creative farm-to-table fare or Soupçon for world-class French cuisine in a tiny, refurbished miners cabin.
Sunflower or Lil’s [Sushi Bar & Grill]
Lil’s Sushi.

 

Where do you go for happy hour?
Montanya Distillers tasting room in downtown CB, where you can enjoy great (locally) handcrafted rum drinks and often live gypsy jazz or other acoustic music. Plus, you will always see someone you know, or 10!
Pitas in Paradise in town or Brown Lab at the base village.
The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin (on the corner of 3rd Street and Maroon Avenue). Housed in a historic mining-era cabin, The Dogwood features creative mixology concoctions and weekly specials.

 

What’s your favorite spot for an apres-ski beer?
The Avalanche (located in Crested Butte Mountain Resort base village).
Avalanche.
Brick Oven has an amazing selection of beers on tap, but you have to make your way back to town. I’m looking forward to the new Umbrella Bar on the mountain.

 

Activities + Experiences

What’s your favorite view?

 

Looking down the gut of Paradise Divide from just about anywhere in the valley. Those peaks back there are dead ringers for the Swiss Alps. There’s pretty stunning terrain just to the north of our wide open valley.
Top of Red Lady (the large flat-topped mountain above downtown Crested Butte) looking west or top of Crested Butte Mountain Resort looking out at the surrounding valley.
Hard to choose just one, but I’ll go with the early morning light on Whetstone outside my bedroom window.

 

What’s your favorite winter event or festival?
Big Air on Elk is pretty unique, and I always have a great time photographing it each year. Not every town lets a bunch of skiers and riders shut down their main street for two days to build a 50-foot jump. Much less let them hit that jump repeatedly, at night, while being towed in by snowmobiles in front of a raucous crowd of hundreds of onlookers. It is a pretty high-energy night in the Butte.
The Extremes [competition] in early March, a 4-star Freeride World Tour qualifier. Also, the Al Johnson, Soul Train, the Alley Loop and Closing Day are favorites. That’s not a fair question; this town is too much fun!
The Al Johnson Memorial Uphill/Downhill Race (held in mid- to late-March annually). Don’t be scared by the “race” part. It’s actually just a big costume party!

 

What are your favorite spots for dancing?
Red Room’s on Tropical Thursday Ladies’ Nights with Trevy Trev!
Talk of the Town or Red Room or wherever JustHow (DJ) is spinning.
I’ve had some of my best nights at Bonez.

 

What’s your favorite non-skiing activity?
Snowmobiling. Half-, full-day or two-hour trail rides are available in Crested Butte’s hundreds of miles of backcountry.
Biking. Available year-round, biking in Crested Butte can be enjoyed on summer mountain biking trails through spectacular aspen forests or atop a winter-ready fat bike on the trails off of Washington Gulch Road, Slate River Road and Gothic Road.
Eating? Drinking? Does Nordic skiing count?

 

What’s your favorite ski shop?

CB Sports maintains a down-to-earth CB feel, and has a great crew of knowledgable, friendly locals that work there.
Crested Butte Sports.
Alpineer.

 

Terrain

What are your favorite runs on a powder day?

If you can catch anything in the famed “Extremes” on a rope drop, you aren’t going to have a bad time. Without a doubt, though, a fresh lap down the Mario World pillow-covered landscape of Third Bowl is a run you won’t ever forget.
Fredo’s to Highlife to The Edge to Rock N Roll glades to Dead End Chutes. That’s one run off the North Face Lift, and is awesome for people who like pillows and cliffs
The Headwall off The High Lift followed by the North Face. Yummy.

 

What are your favorite runs for technical steeps?
Too many to list. CB has some of the most varied line-up of steep, technical runs of any resort I have ever skied—and that’s a lot. Fredo’s and High Life are two that will surely get your blood pumping.
Staircase (Spellbound Bowl) or Angle Gully (Headwall). Both are located in Crested Butte’s Extremes terrain.
I’m going to defer to Trent and Will on this one.

 

What are your favorite glades?
Anywhere over by East River lift. CBMR has done a great job adding new gladed terrain to that zone. It was always awesome tree skiing but now you can open it up a bit and really have some fun!
Total Recall or Headwall Trees.
Double Top Glades (off East River Express Lift).

 

What are your favorite groomers?
Pointing it straight down International is a rush for speed seekers, but our tillers and groomers are some of the best in the business, so any morning that we don’t have fresh snow you can count on world-class groomed trail across much of our green, blue and on-piste black trails.
International (the steep black diamond skier’s right of Silver Queen Express Lift).
International.

Now that you have local insight on Crested Butte, you’re ready to experience the best this incredible ski town and resort have to offer. Our 65+ Mountain Travel Experts can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more. They’re standing by at 800-610-8911. You can also get started by filling out a form for a free custom quote.

About Author: Leah Boucher
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now living in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com as Director of SEO + Content, I've been able to combine a litany of skills, passions and interests. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.

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