EDITOR’S NOTE: Pack your bags! FOX31 Denver’s Kevin Torres and Anne Herbst are taking you on a week-long #COroadtrip through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. They’ll be detailing each stop during our 9 PM broadcasts from June 28 to July 2.
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — Few mountain towns are as stunning as Crested Butte. Located in the Central Rockies, Crested Butte is known as the “wildflower capital of Colorado.”
Although Crested Butte is a popular ski town, it’s also bursting with life during the summer months. Towards the end of June, the town’s wildflowers pop with color. They attract people from all over the world. The wildflowers are so popular, the town even has a festival dedicated to them.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Crested Butte. One of our favorite drives happens to be up Kebler Pass, which brings you over miles and miles of aspen groves. The views are simply stunning. There’s also plenty of camping available on top of the pass, so pack a tent.
If you’re not a fan of the outdoors, there’s plenty of shopping and dining to do along Crested Butte’s Elk Avenue. This old mining town provides a beautiful downtown setting, enjoyable for all ages.
If you’ve never been to Crested Butte before, chances are you don’t know the story of “Jingles the Cat.” Jingles is considered Crested Butte’s unofficial mayor. The pudgy cat has a permanent home at the True Value hardware store in Crested Butte. Folks from all over the area stop by there on a regular basis to see him.
If you venture over to the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, you’ll get to see the former world record holder elk. It was killed near Crested Butte in 1899. As the story goes according to old newspaper articles, “On March 19, 1961 they (owners of the elk antlers) were certified a new world record. Score 442 3/8.” These days apparently there’s a new world record holder. But the Crested Butte elk is still pretty impressive.
RELATED: All current stops on #COroadtrip
The U.S. Forest Service has a few recommendations for camping near Crested Butte. The following suggestions come from its website:
- Cement Creek Campground – Gunnison RD
This part of the Gunnison National Forest has impressive landscapes and receives relatively low use. Cement Creek Campground provides access to hiking, mountain biking, ATV and motorcycle riding, spelunking and fishing. It lies within 15 miles of Crested Butte, CO. The landscape is mostly aspen in a narrow valley. There are 13 campsites.
- Gothic Campground – Gunnison RD
The terrain surrounding Gothic Campground is as rugged as it is beautiful. The mountain biking, hiking, motorcycle riding and four-wheel driving can’t be beat. This older rustic site lies in a stretch of the Gunnison National Forest that is sandwiched between the Maroon Bells-Snowmass and the Raggeds Wilderness Areas. The area seldom gets crowded so it’s worth the extra effort and time it takes to reach the region. The landscape is spruce/fir trees. 4 campsites.
- Lake Irwin Campground – Gunnison RD (Expected opening July 4)
Lake Irwin Campground is bordered on the eastern side by Lake Irwin and the western side by the Ruby Mountain Range. This rugged terrain provides challenging mountain biking and hiking. The lake is usually so full of fish you can see them rise to the calm surface. The area is very picturesque and filled with wildflowers in July and August. There are 32 campsites.
Crested Butte is also a hiker’s paradise. VisitCrestedButte.com features several hiking recommendations, including the following:
- Beaver Ponds Trail #516
This is an easy trail, approximately 1/2 mile in length and has benches and interpretive signs. The trail begins off the Ohio Creek Road 22 miles north of hwy 135 and ends at a large beaver pond where a picnic ground is provided. Fishing is available in the ponds.
- Boulder Creek Trail #478
The trail head is out of Gold Creek Campground. The trail climbs steadily, with lots of switch backs, to Boulder Lake. 8 Miles round trip.
- Conundrum Trail #1981
The trail leaves one mile west from Gothic (trail 739), hike up to Judd Falls following the Copper Creek trail. Continue along until markers to Copper Pass/Triangle Pass (trail 1981) are seen. Follow the trail over Triangle Pass and down into the valley along Conundrum Creek, this leads to Conundrum Hot Springs. The trail winds through forests and eventually along steep, slide hill with much loose rock. 9 miles one way.
- Curecanti Creek
It descends from the rim of the upper Black Canyon to Morrow Point Lake, following Curecanti Creek. It ends at the lake with a view of the Curecanti Needle. 4 miles round trip. The trail head begins at Pioneer Point, off hwy 92, 5.7 miles west of it’s junction with hwy 50.
- Dyke Trail
You should arrange for car shuttle if hiking this trail. Leave one car at Horse Ranch Park, where hike will end. Take Kebler Pass Road (County Road 12) west for 6 miles, then turn right to Irwin Lake (Forest Road 826). Drive to Irwin Campground and park. Hike up road, then fork left. Continue on jeep road for about 1/2 mile. Look for Dyke Trail signs on left. 5 – 6 miles.
- Elk Creek/Gunsight Pass
Take Kebler Pass Road west for 4.6 miles to a steep ravine on your right. Park here. Hike trail on right up left side of stream. At the Standard Mine, take right road uphill to the top of Gunsight Pass. Return down the same way you came. You can see many old mines on this hike; avoid shafts, dangerous openings and equipment. 4 – 5 miles.
- Green Lake
Start from the Crested Butte Nordic Center at 2nd and Whiterock. Follow the trail up the Bench southbound. Turn right on Wildcat Road, continue on trail past dead end of road. Turn right on Trapper’s Crossing Road. Watch for sign to Green Lake Trail on left. Gorgeous picnic spot. 7 miles round trip.
- Henry Lake #429
The trail takes off at Lottis Creek Campground (in Taylor Canyon) and is 14 miles round trip. It is rough and steep. There is fishing at Henry Lake.
- Lamphier Lake Trail #428
The trail head is out of Gold Creek Campground, 100 yards past the campground itself. The trail follows the creek, winding its way through aspen and pine up to the remote lake. 6 miles round trip. The trail head is on the top of Gunsight Pass, one more mile.
- Mill Castle Trail #450
The trail begins on Mill Creek Road, a two wheel drive road. The trail goes over Storm Pass (12,440ft.) and very steep on both sides. This is one of the most scenic trails in the West Elk Wilderness, but only experienced hikers should attempt this 14.3 mile hike. The first 5 miles are easy, the rest is more strenuous.
- Mysterious Lake
Starts off Trail Creek Road approximately 5 miles from Spring Creek Reservoir. It is 5 miles long. Some previous hiking experience is desirable. There is fishing at Mysterious Lake.
- Neversink Trail
Short trail along the Gunnison River, leaving from Neversink day use area in Curecanti National Recreation Aread on Highway 50, 5 miles west of Gunnison. the tree shaded walk is 1.5 miles round trip on flat terrain.
- Peanut Lake/Lower Loop
Probably the most popular “quick trail” because of its vicinity. On the corner of 1st street and Elk, go north on on 1st. Then turn left on Butte Ave. Park your car on the side of the road and walk Peanut Road to Peanut Lake. The trail will turn into Lower Loop. 2 to 3 miles. Great beginner trail or when hiking with small children.
- Snodgrass Mountain
Take Gothic Road north past the stables. Park at Snodgrass trailhead on left. Cross over fence stile form. Please obey any seasonal closure signs on gate. You can reach the top of Snodgrass Mountain on the dirt road. Trail to left past second gate, ends in Washington Gulch. 5 miles to top and back.
- Splain’s Gulch
This one is a nice short hike. Start off west on Kebler Pass Road (County Road 12). Drive 5 miles to Forest Road 885. Turn left and park. Hike on the road or various trails. This hike is 4 miles with beautiful forest.
- Strand Hill/Ferris Creek
Take Hwy. 135 south for 2 miles. Turn left at Brush Creek Road and follow past Cold Springs Ranch (on your left). Park about 1/2 mile past the ranch at trailhead on your right. Walk a short distance to Ferris Creek Road. Remember to close gates behind you. Trail is steep in places for about one mile, then levels out. At fork on top of hill, follow dirt road to Ferris Creek and around Strand Hill. Alternatively, at the fork turn left and climb Strand Hill. After two miles of climbing, turn left on single track into a meadow and descend through aspen forest for several miles. At the bottom, follow the trail right, then left to Brush Creek Road. This hike is 5-6 miles long.
- Summerville Trail #430
Summerville trail begins in Taylor River Canyon, approximately 1 mile below Lodgepole Campground, and goes through Crystal Creek Drainage to fossil Ridge. The trail is approximately 11 miles long. The area is remote and few people go into it. Steep with switchbacks.
- Swampy Pass Trail #439
The trail head is located off Ohio Creek Road (County Rd 730). The trail climbs gradually through aspen and pine overlooking the scenic Ohio Valley and the Castles. 8 miles to Swampy Pass.
- Timberline Trail #414
This trail starts just below Mirror Lake Campground and crosses the Cottonwood Pass Road 8.5 miles to the north. Both points are accessible by automobile. Timberline Trail offers superb views of Taylor Park.
- Upper Loop
This is a 6 mile hike. Hikers take opposite direction to bikers. From the new school, follow road past gravel mine on Town Ranch to Brush Creek Road. Turn left, then left again on Skyland Drive. Trail continues past gate at Grant Lake and ends on Hunter Hill Road in Mt. Crested Butte. Return down Gothic Road to Crested Butte. Great scenery of the Mountain and Town.
- Walrod Gulch Loop
Starting from the Town of Crested Butte, take Hwy. 135 south 6.8 miles to Cement Creek Road. Turn left and continue on Cement Creek Road for 1.5 miles. Park in turnout at Trail #409 trailhead. Begin trail at #409 trailhead climbing steeply up trail and enjoying forest scenery as well as caves towards your right. At top, take right fork and follow to Walrod Gulch jeep road. Turn right on road and descend to Cement Creek Road. Turn right to return to vehicle. 3 – 4 mile trail.
- Yule Pass
Take Gothic Road north from Crested Butte, past the cemetery. Turn left on Slate River Road and continue for about 9.5 miles to Paradise Divide. Road is steep and narrow at the top. Park at Paradise Divide and hike on jeep road to Yule Pass. You can also hike off-trail to Treasury, Purple or Cinnamon Mountains from Yule Pass Trail. You’ll see great views and many wildflowers. 4 miles.
Anne and Kevin will be travelling traveling 800 Rocky Mountain miles in all this week, visiting some pretty gnarly small towns. Along the way they’ll give their best recommendations and introduce you to some memorable characters.
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