America's Best Trail Towns: Crested Butte, CO

Why Crested Butte? Because it's crowded with wildflowers, not people.
trail towns

Photo by Kurt Reiss

In a state packed with celebrated mountain getaways, Crested Butte stands out. Sure, other Rockies outposts have peaks as scenic as the Butte’s West Elks, plus slopes brightened by wildflower blooms in summer and golden aspen in fall. But what sets Crested Butte apart is what it doesn’t have: crowds, thanks to its distance from the I-70 tourist zone. Everyone who visits really wants to be here.

Why You’re Here In the Raggeds Wilderness, trails start at 7,000 feet and ascend into little-traveled cirques. Kelly Jensen, manager at The Alpineer gear shop (419 6th Street), recommends a 20-mile shuttle hike that bops from one drainage to the next. Take the Oh-Be-Joyful Trail to Swan Basin, then continue on the Silver Basin and Dark Canyon Trails to Horse Ranch Park. Trailhead Oh-Be-Joyful on FS-754 Shuttle Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle; $100; (970) 349-2620 Permit None

On the Town

PERK Camp 4 Coffee is a Crested Butte institution.
402 ½ Elk Ave.

PUB “A sunny place for shady people” is the self-proclaimed motto at The Eldo, a favorite for burgers, nachos, and live music. 215 Elk Ave.

SWEET Third Bowl scoops up such sophisticated ice cream options as green chile chocolate, bananas foster, and honey lavender. 201 Elk Ave.

FESTIVAL Every summer, when the high country bursts with blooming columbine, lupine, and lilies, the Wildflower Festival celebrates with guided hikes, photography classes, and botany talks (mid-July 2017).