Crested Butte

Trip Planning

Best Things To Do in Crested Butte When You Only Have a Weekend

Jesse and Lauren Stuart share their tips for a weekend trip to Crested Butte, Colorado.

Crested Butte. The wildflower capital of Colorado and home to some fantastic ski slopes. Sitting pretty at just under 9,000 feet in elevation, Crested Butte is an outdoor lovers' paradise. From pristine rivers and lakes to seemingly endless hiking and biking trails, there are plenty of things to do in Crested Butte when you only have a weekend.

Located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the former coal mining town is about a 4.5-hour drive from Denver. This high-elevation town is incredibly charming and picturesque. From its wild west-looking storefronts scatted along Elk Avenue to the towering peak of Mount Crested Butte in the distance, it's no wonder why Crested Butte is considered one of the prettiest places in Colorado.

From the town, you can access hiking and biking trails, amazing eateries, and killer mountain sunsets and sunrises. You'll soon come to find that a long weekend breathing in the fresh air of Crested Butte is just what the doctor ordered.

Things To Do in Crested Butte When You Only Have a Weekend

1. Hit The Crested Butte Mountain Biking & Hiking Trails

From May to October, hitting the hiking and biking trails is a must! Get up close and personal with the beautiful wildflowers as you drool over the expansive mountain peak and valley views. With over 750 miles of trails, to not get out and explore one of them is a crying shame!

With trails ranging from easy to strenuous and shorter jaunts to longer hauls, there really is a perfect trail for everyone. Some top-rated hiking and biking trails are just below.

Hiking Trails

  • Judd Falls: 2.2 miles
  • Rustlers Gulch: 9 miles
  • Scarp Ridge: 3.9 miles
  • Oh-Be-Joyful: 13 miles
  • West Maroon Pass (hike from Crested Butte to Aspen): 11 miles

Mountain Biking Trails

  • 401 Trail: 13.6 miles
  • Lupine Trail: 10.7 miles
  • Teocalli Trail: 17.4 miles
  • Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman: 18 miles
  • Strand Hill: 9.2 miles

As always, when hiking or biking be respectful of wildlife, stay on the trails, and pack out any trash or waste. Let's keep Colorado and its wild wilderness beautiful.

2. Get On The Water

Rent a stand-up paddle board (SUP), kayak, or inner tube from Wheelies and Waves from their downtown Elk Ave location and head up to Lake Irwin.

Located about 30 minutes outside of downtown Crested Butte, you'll find scenic Lake Irwin resting at 10,500 feet in elevation. You are surrounded by beautiful alpine trees and mountain views, making it a perfect place to spend an entire day or just a few hours.

Plan to pack a cooler and spend the day paddling out on the water, sunbathing, taking a dip, and enjoying the beautiful day and its views.

3. Wander Down Historic Elk Ave

At the heart of Crested Butte's downtown is Elk Ave. Lined with art galleries, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops, Elk Ave is the beating heart of Crested Butte's dining and nightlife scene.

Spend a few hours perusing the shops and having a meal. History buffs, don't miss out on the Historic Walking Tour. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the Museum in town offers walking tours where you can learn more about the history of Crested Butte and how it got to be the top year-round destination.

In terms of dining, Elk Ave is the place to be. Some top-rated restaurants and places to grab a drink in Crested Butte are

  • Secret Stash
  • Public House
  • Breadery
  • Wooden Nickle
  • Bones Tequila Bar & Grill
  • Montanya Distillers
  • Dogwood
  • Sunflower

Tip: When dining out in Crested Butte, reservations are highly recommended

4. Take The Lift Up To Mt. Crested Butte

Head up to the base of Mount Crested Butte and make plans to take a scenic chairlift ride on the Silver Queen. The ride up and down offers great photo opportunities and jaw-dropping views of the surrounding area. You can take a ride on the Silver Queen Express, or use the Silver Queen Express to begin your hike up to Crested Butte's Peak. Either way, the scenery is incredible!

5. Take A Scenic Drive

If you need a rest from all the outdoor activity, a scenic drive is just for you. Kebler's Pass is a picturesque mountain road that stretches 30 miles from Crested Butte and ends near Paonia State Park. The drive is spectacular in the fall and a great drive to see the gorgeous fall colors.

Another scenic drive option is the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway. This scenic byway will take you through Paonia wine country, the rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, through the town of Gunnison, and back into Crested Butte. It's a long loop, about 250 miles, but if you have the time, it's a beautiful drive.

6. Go Fly Fishing Near Crested Butte

For all the experienced anglers out there or anglers-in-training, consider booking a guided tour with Dragonfly Anglers. Offering a variety of half-day and full-day tours, their helpful guides will take you to some of the best fishing streams in the area. Relax on the river and enjoy the great outdoors while you cast the day away.

7. See What Festivals & Events You'll Find

It seems like there is always something happening in Crested Butte. Whether it's a festival or concert, be sure to check out what events are happening over your long weekend visit to Crested Butte. Depending on when you are visiting, try not to miss some of the most popular events like

  • Crested Butte Farmers Market
  • Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
  • Food & Wine Festival
  • Crested Butte Art Festival
  • Summer Concert Series

8. Go White Water Rafting on The Taylor River

Looking for an adrenaline rush? How does white water rafting sound? Book a white water rafting tour on the Taylor River. The river features predominantly Class II and Class III rapids and will take you through the Gunnison National Forest for a little wild and wet fun!

Scenic River Tours and Three Rivers Resort are highly rated tour companies that can take you and your friends and family out for a day of fun.

However you choose to spend a weekend in Crested Butte, one thing is for sure is that it will be a weekend well spent.

Jesse and Lauren Stuart

The Wandering Stus

Lauren and Jesse Stuart, a travel blogging couple, along with their dog Huey cruise the country in their travel trailer sharing travel tips, itineraries, and their adventures along the way!