Crested Butte, CO: Simply Breathtaking

We’re still flyin’ high, at 9,000 feet, here in the alpine paradise of Crested Butte. Surrounded with majestic mountain peaks in every direction, it’s breathtaking (literally) … case in point, “Crested Butte Oxygen Rentals” is a real business, and real busy. 

The quintessential charming Colorado town, Crested Butte is overflowing with wildflowers from June to September, making it the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.” Everywhere you look, waist-high flowers welcome you to nature’s nirvana.

As such, they have an annual Wildflower Festival in July, with 200+ classes in wildflower expertise (which seems excessive to me, but what do I know … I usually attend festivals only for the open bar wristband.)

Crested Butte’s residents can best be described as a mix of hippie/artsy types, and the rich. Make that the ultra-rich. The average (average!) home price here is $2,688,000 ($695,000 for a condo), and most of those are second, or third, or fourth homes. The arts culture is evident all around town in the form of arts centers, public performance spaces, and unexpected artwork.

But thanks to the early residents of CB and their pro-environment actions, the entirety of CB is surrounded by lush public lands, and developed trailheads with hundreds, if not thousands, of hiking and biking trails leading off into the mountains and through the valleys.

Back in town, there are more dogs than humans, and more bikes than dogs. Crested Butte refers not only to the town of CB, but also Mt. Crested Butte, the ski town located two miles north. At the mountain in the summer, you can grab an ice cream cone, ride the lift to the top, and hike around or watch hundreds of mountain bikers from age 8 to 80 careen down the hill. And festivals here, ahhh so many festivals … music festivals, food and wine festivals, film festivals, river festivals, arts festivals.

Philip was eager to take a road trip west of town over Kebler Pass, until he was informed that it was KEBLER, not KEEBLER, and therefore no cookies nor elves would be found.

Along the pass is one of the country’s largest stands of quaking aspen trees, with 50 acres of trees so large, you can barely get your arms around just one of them, and the beautiful Lake Irwin, paddleboarder’s paradise.

About 20 miles from CB along Kebler Pass, the aptly-named Three Lakes Loop hike takes you above and around not one, not two, but three gorgeous lakes!

Another journey north of CB takes you along Schofield Pass and to the speck of a town of Gothic. A short-lived mining town, it was all but deserted when in the 1920s, a biology professor at Western Colorado College in Gunnison, brought his students here on field trips. He proceeded to set up a field station in 1928 in the ruins of the old mining town, which has since become the internationally renowned Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, conducting scientific research on high-altitude ecosystems. What a setting for science!

Perhaps more importantly, this “town” has a darling coffee shop-slash-gathering point, and has scientifically demonstrated via Venn Diagram the relationship of the various caffeine forms to each other. Now that’s the kind of science to which I can throw my support, so as to avoid embarassment at the Starbucks counter.

Meanwhile, all you really need to know about Crested Butte can be summarized in the name of a popular recreation area here, “OH BE JOYFUL!” (Their local dog rescue is called Oh Be Dogful, which is even cuter.) Yup, it’s hard to wipe the smile of your face when surrounded with such beauty!

Even our RV Park, the tiny and one-and-only place with utility hookups in Crested Butte, was a thing of beauty, nestled up against the hills and with a wadeable, splashable, dog-swimmable river below the wide, lush lawn.

But it was not without mystery. Cows are allowed, but dogs are not? Although, as our kids pointed out, what IS a cow, if not a giant, milk-producing farm dog? Similarly, what is a dog if not a tiny, poop-producing house cow? #thingsthatmakeyouthink

Indeed, we explored CB in a state of rapture, and made the rare decision (for us) that we will return for a longer stay in the future. Even Finn was smiling with every gulp of fresh mountain air!

There’s a saying in CB: come for the winter, stick around for the summer. Stick around for the summer, stay for the fall. Stay for the fall, reconsider your life choices for the spring … something like that. Alas, our time is up, but a return visit is definitely in the future. Next, we’re heading to our 37th National Park, the unusual Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, so deep that the bottom receives only thirty-three minutes of sunlight per day!

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