The time to road trip is upon us and here at Ski.com we’re adapting to the changing travel landscape by advising our clients on how to safely drive to the mountains this winter for a ski trip worthy of the extra precautions.
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If you live in Texas and like to ski, chances are you’re not hesitant to hop in the car and drive over 10 hours to get to the mountains. As someone who was raised in Dallas, Texas, I spent every spring tucked back of the third row of our Chevrolet Suburban, bound for places like Taos, Crested Butte, and Vail. A day later and car in tow, we’d head to the mountains as a family and before noon, mom and dad would making turns and we’d be on our way to spending our first day in ski school.
I’m excited for this form of travel to return for two reasons. First off, I can’t remember happier vacations as a kid and my parents will likely tell you the same. Secondly, the open road always reminds me just how vast our country is both in terms of culture and scenery. To honor both reasons, I’ve put together a road trip from my hometown of Dallas, Texas to one of my favorite all time resorts, Crested Butte, Colorado. Let’s put the pedal to the metal!
*When driving in the mountains during winter, Ski.com highly recommends using a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle equipped with the appropriate tread.
Dallas > Crested Butte, CO | To The Mountains Roadtrips
Leg #1 – Dallas, TX > Raton, NM
One of the most popular destinations for Texas skiers and riders, Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers decent proximity to the Lone Star State at just over 13 hours of drive time. Besides the stunning scenery and skiing fit for both experts and beginners, “The Butte” offers great family friendly accommodations and some of the best ski in ski out lodging in Colorado. After 2 days on the road, you’re going to need that hot tub!
But before you arrive, you might as well enjoy the open road and all the stops along the way. While North Texas isn’t known for its vast amount of entertainment options or tourist attractions, there are some amazing restaurants between home and the mountains and we’ve got you covered with stops along the way that will keep the entire caravan happy.
Stop #1: Wichita Falls, Texas – Branding Iron Barbecue | The World’s Littlest Skyscraper
After leaving the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, the first major stop is Wichita Fall, TXs. Home to some great barbecue, friendly locals, and novel attractions such as the World’s Littlest Skyscraper, plan this as your first stop and if you have kids, Lucy Park is a great spot to let them run around for 30 minutes before hopping back on the road.
Stop #2: Amarillo, Texas – Sunday’s Kitchen | Cadillac Ranch | Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Amarillo is home to some secret gems that will surprise anyone with a taste for unexpected treasures. If you’re an outdoorsy family that doesn’t mind spending a night under some of the clearest night skies in the United States (stargazing here is hard to beat), consider camping at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, whose namesake canyon is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and mostly just passing through Amarillo and need to stretch to legs, check out the wildly campy Cadillac Ranch for a quick break. Be sure to also stop for a bite at Sunday’s Kitchen before calling it a night and getting a hotel room (Ski.com Mountain Travel Experts can secure your lodging en route too!).
Stop #3 Raton, NM – La Cosina Cafe | Colorado State Sign
After Amarillo, it’s slim pickings in terms of rest stops, restaurants, and entertainment until you reach Raton, NM, which is where US Highway 87 meets Interstate 25. Although it’s mainly rest stops and fast food, Raton (Spanish for ‘rat’) has a few decent options such as Bruno’s Pizza and Wings and great Mexican fare at La Cosina Cafe. On your way north out of town, take Exit 460 to take your photo at the ‘Welcome to Colorful Colorado’ official state welcome sign.
Leg #2: Raton > Crested Butte Mountain Resort
On day #2 of the road trip, finish of the journey off with a beautiful drive up the Front Range of Colorado on I-25 before turning off on Hwy 69 towards Salida, CO. There, take a pit stop and enjoy some of the best Mexican fare in Colorado at Tacos el Tapatio. If shopping for authentic Colorado crafts is on the to-do list, check out the downtown area, which is designated as a creative district and features a slew of galleries, boutiques, and shops.
Stop #4 – Salida, CO: Tacos el Tapatio | Salida Creative District
From Salida, traverse the wonderfully scenic Monarch Pass, which reaches a peak elevation of 11,312 feet above sea level before dropping into the Gunnison River Valley. In the town of Gunnison, turn north on Hwy 135 and follow the picture perfect Taylor River as it winds up the steep canyon and ultimately into the high meadows of Crested Butte.
When it comes to picturesque ski towns, it’s hard to top the historic portion of downtown Crested Butte. If you’re staying in town, enjoy close proximity to nightlife, restaurants, and local happenings and a short bus ride to Crested Butte Mountain Resort for skiing or riding. If you opt to stay at the inclusive base area, enjoy ski-in, ski-out options as well as slopeside lodging for the best proximity to the slopes. Ultimately, the bus that serves skiers can also ferry guests to and from town over the course of a short, 10 minute ride.
Learn more: 5 Days In Crested Butte: A First Timer’s Guide
— Ski.com (@Skicom) September 9, 2020
Prior to arrival, book your lodging with a Mountain Travel Expert so you can relax in the hot tub while the kiddos play in the pool. Sound good? Get a free quote today and plan your road trip with Ski.com