Crested Butte (CB as the locals call it) is named Mountain Biking Capital of Colorado for a reason. The views and wildflowers off the trails are incredible and there are hundreds of miles of single track to suit every level. Once Kebler Pass opened and I realized CB was only 2.5 hrs away from Aspen and they had a bike week with costumes and races, I HAD to be there. I’m neither good nor brave so I stuck to the green trails and looked cute 🙂
The town has preserved its 18th century “camp” or “log homes” architecture and the locals endearingly use the word “camp” instead of town. The buildings are preserved with the old square wooden facades and the steep tin roofs behind the facade – make your own conclusion how much snow they get in winter based on the roof structures they use! Weather tends to be is cooler than Aspen and Vail so even in the midst of summer it can be 40F at night. CB is also very buggy, mosquitos will eat you alive if you don’t pour repellent all over you (or wear long sleeves). (Spraying won’t do 🤔)
Crested Butte is the friendliest mountain town in CO, full of super cool, very kind, and beyond outdoorsy hippies. They will invite you into their homes, offer you a drink, feed you, tell you everything about town, for the sole reason that you happened to be passing by their house. The extreme outdoorsy-ness and the inclement climate make the locals appear slightly edgy – “crestitude” they call it (Crested Butte + attitude). Town, sorry, meant camp, is full of steampunk style art and metal sculptures and all that gives it a very unique vibe – log homes, camp-like structures, hippie people, and metal art pieces.
Wildflowers and bikes everywhere! Even the weathervane is a bicycle!
Now onto Crested Butte Bike Week:
Chainless World Championships – a not to miss race on Friday afternoon (be in town at 4:30pm to watch it). You can be just a spectator like me. The race resembles a carnival with big costumes and even bigger bikes and downhill makeshift devices on wheels. As the town promotes it: “Bigger bikes. Bigger costumes. More ridiculous antics.” And there are pictures to prove that! The participants roll down the last 7 miles of Kebler Pass into Crested Butte’s main street where everyone drinks and parties at the finish line! This year the most prominent theme was political costumes and in a liberal, hippie town like CB you can only imagine what that meant… Needless to say, we had Trump, we had Mexicans “building” a wall, we had Planned Parenthood pregnant lady…
PC: Lydia Stern
Bridges of the Butte is a 24-hour charity fundraiser event on bicycles to benefit a great cause – Adaptive Sports Crested Butte.. It starts at 12pm on Sat and ends at 12pm on Sun. It is probably the biggest and best party on bikes I’ve been to and I will most definitely return next year! People decorate and light their bikes, wear costumes, and peddle around town and have a grand time! The 2 mile course takes you through all the neighborhoods of town, we can call it “sightseeing on bikes” and is sprinkled with street art during the day and with special light installations at night! There are parties, tailgating, and camping all along the course, you won’t be thirsty but definitely wear a costume! Best part is that anyone and everyone can participate. You can either sign up online and pay the $25 entrance fee, you can fundraise a bigger sum or form a team, or you can just donate day of event and ride around town.
Fat Tire 40 is an enduro mountain biking race where professional and amateur athletes compete for the best time over 40 miles of gnarly single track in the backcountry. Since my level of biking doesn’t probably even allow me to watch such a race, I went exploring trails on my own, smelling the wildflowers, and splashing water in streams!
Favorite terrain for mountain biking: Lupine starting from town, climbing uphill on road, taking a left, following the Lupine Trail to Gunsight Bridge and from there taking Lower Loop by the river all the way back to town – wildflowers, smooth single track, water crossings, and stunning views galore!
Coffee shop not to miss: First Ascent Coffee Roasters – their single origin beans are every connoisseur’s dream!
And just when I thought town couldn’t get any cuter, a Farmers’ Market filled with local art and craft and live music popped up on Elk Ave on Sunday! #justtakeallmymoney #jewelryholic
Museums too: If you are interested in the history of the area, I highly recommend the Crested Butte and Gunnison Museums, they even have a mountain biking wing to celebrate the town’s heritage.
Last but not least, the distance from Aspen to Crested Butte may be only 10 miles as the crow flies, but the road winds between mountain peaks, in deep valleys, and through aspen groves for 2.5 hrs (that’s if you don’t stop and take picture of every peak 🗻 and wildflower 💐 as I did). McClure Pass is one of the most beautiful high mountain passes I have driven through, both on the Redstone and the Paonia sides. And Kebler Pass, though unpaved, is by no means impassable even for my FWD compact car and is in better condition that a major paved highway in Bulgaria.