Crested Butte is enormous, with acres upon acres of varied terrain. It’s a great place for beginners, intermediate skiers and advanced crazy skiers who want to ski off the edge of cliffs and do all sorts of gnarly, jaw-dropping maneuvers. As a destination resort, the area gets a lot of out-of-state visitors, but because it’s so large, lift lines, especially once you get away from the main base area, are manageable. This is an easy mountain on which to spend several days and never ski the same run twice.
Distance from Grand Junction: 154 miles, 3½ hours, depending on conditions
One-day lift ticket prices: Regular prices are $95. Holiday prices (12/21/12 - 1/4/13)are $98.
From Nov. 21 to Dec. 13, lift tickets are only $59.
Crested Butte partners with Powderhorn Mountain Resort, so any Powderhorn pass holders can get 50 percent off lift tickets all season.
Lodging tips: There is plenty of lodging right at the base of the mountain at Mount Crested Butte. There is also lodging available (smaller hotels, B&Bs) in the town of Crested Butte, which is a couple miles down the road. There are also discount chain hotels in the town of Gunnison, which is about 20 miles away.
The resort pairs with most lodging properties in Mount Crested Butte, Crested Butte and Gunnison to offer free skiing with lodging through Dec. 19.
Mountain stats: Four high-speed quads, two fixed-grip quads, two triple chairs, three double chairs, three surface lifts. 1,547 acres
•26 percent beginner
•58 percent intermediate
•16 percent advanced
What makes it worth the drive: For good skiers, the extreme skiing is awesome, with the most lift access to extreme skiing in North America. The mountain has more than 350 acres of gladed terrain, and it also has a huge amount of variety in its terrain. Black runs don’t always have moguls, but can simply be excessively steep and fast.
Crested Butte also offers the North Face Guide, which is a good way for intermediate skiers to get the extreme skiing experience in a more controlled environment, since a guide goes along with the group.
Because the mountains are north-facing, they don’t get sun-soaked and hardened by the next day.
What else can I do? The town of Crested Butte is charming, with smaller shops and lodging. Nordic skiing is available, as well as dog-sled rides, sleigh ride dinners, winter horseback riding, a winter zip-line and an adventure park. Oh yeah, for those whose lives aren’t complete without heavy equipment, there are Snowcat driving lessons.
Signature run: International — it’s a long black diamond run that becomes blue, barreling right down the front side of the mountain.