In preparation for the upcoming ski season launching Thanksgiving week, Colorado’s Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley has exciting what’s new announcements for winter. New and improved options for events, flights, lodging, skiing and snowboarding, dining and more are available in the area known as home to “The last great Colorado ski town.”
Snowmobiling & Ski Mountaineering Events
Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) has added snowmobiling to its mix of annual events. Following a successful test event last winter, plans have grown to create a mid-winter snowmobile extravaganza, Roost the Butte, both at the resort and on nearby property. CBMR has teamed up with X-Games snowmobile event organizer Joe Duncan of 357 Consulting to launch the snowmobile competition and festival on Jan. 18 – 20. Four different events with multiple classes for each will be offered: snocross, hillcross, hill drag and snow ovals. In addition, there will be other unique features, vendor displays and a festive atmosphere on the Gold Link area of the mountain.
A second snowmobile event, The Ultimate Snowmobile Event, also is in the works for April 10 – 13. Also produced by 357 Productions, this inaugural eight-event snowmobile contest will crown the Ultimate Snowmobiler and draw contestants and spectators to the ski area base the weekend after CBMR closes for ski season. For both events, go to www.skicb.com.
U.S. Ski Mountaineering Championships will be held in Mt. Crested Butte at Crested Butte Mountain Resort on March 13 – 15, making it the first time the event is hosted at a destination other than Jackson Hole, Wyo. Friday evening will be a sprint race followed by an individual race on Saturday at 8 a.m. and a teams race on Sunday at 8 a.m. Race information will be posted on www.elkmountainevents.com.
Transportation – Direct Flight from Chicago
The Gunnison Crested-Butte Regional Airport (GUC) has added a direct flight from Chicago this winter in addition to direct, non-stop flights from Denver International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Running 10 Saturdays throughout the winter months, United Airlines will be flying a CR700, carrying 66 passengers direct from Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Dec. 21 and 28, Jan. 4, Feb. 15 and 22, and March 1, 8, 15 and 22. The Chicago flight schedule has the aircraft landing in Gunnison at 11:40 a.m., allowing passengers to get to the slopes in time for a few afternoon ski runs.
CBMR is offering a FREE half-day lift ticket for all Chicago flight passengers on the day of their flight if they bring their ID and boarding pass stub to the resort’s Adventure Center on the date of arrival.
The Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association and Crested Butte Mountain Resort will have booth at the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show on Jan. 11 – 12. Visit us at booth # 1432 for information and to register for special prizes.
New Options for Skiers & Boarders
CBMR now offers guided skiing and snowboarding in Teo 2, an area of the mountain where there are future plans for lift-served skiing expansion in future years. This is for expert skiers looking for a full day of guided skiing that is closed off to all other guests.
Skiers and boarders also will be treated to new intermediate tree skiing options in the East River lift area. Crews are widening the space in between trees for those who love gladed skiing, with the focus being on the area between Double Top and Black Eagle trails.
Being a kid on the slopes in Crested Butte just got even cooler. Crews are creating three new kid-specific trails in the Painter Boy area that will be about the width of a grooming machine and wind through the trees to give kids a forest-like experience. In addition, the resort will be building facades to create a mini Elk Avenue (Crested Butte’s Main Street) along one of the trails for kids to ski through and play around. There also will be a ski-through bear cave, U.S. Forest Service lodge, and gold mining building for interactive play and learning.
Crested Butte Nordic Center is introducing a new International Ski Federation sanctioned race course located on the “Bench” area above the center. Although it was constructed with racing in mind (5 kilometer course and 1.2 kilometer sprint course), recreational skiers will be greeted by a more interesting and skiable trails as well. Big Mine Loop and Electric Loop have been reworked; both are now 20 feet wide and have been moved farther into the forest to improve early-season conditions. Skiers on the Big Mine Loop will find a trail that gently winds through evergreens until reaching two new moderate climbs that transition into rolling downhills. Electric Loop will continue to challenge skiers with big ascents and fast descents, but the terrain has been constructed with more variation to improve flow.
Lodging Renovations & New Ranch
The newly branded and recently renovated The Inn at Tomichi Village in Gunnison opened as an independently owned inn in July and features guestrooms with new bedding/triple sheeting, flat screen TVs, furnishings, and modern decor with a stylish mountain flare. Pet-friendly rooms are available at the property, which is currently rated #2 on Trip Advisor. A hot complimentary breakfast is included.Visit www.theinnattomichivillage.com
Located on 500 acres 19 miles east of Gunnison, Monson Creek Ranch opened its doors this summer and offers activities and lodging year-round. Purchased by Pepper and Pam Pesnell five years ago, the couple has been making improvements ever since and now offers lodging for up to 12 in a cabin and snow cat-drawn sleigh rides (complete with toasting marshmallows around a warm fire) and snowmobile rentals in winter. For summer and fall, the ranch offers horseback trail rides and jeep tours and is located next to prime hunting territory (Hunting Area 551). Monson Creek Ranch has a rental location for jeeps and snowmobiles across from City Market in Gunnison on Highway 135. Go to www.monson-creek-ranch.com.
After being purchased from longtime owners Allen and Judy Cox in late 2012, new local owners of the Nordic Inn in Mt. Crested Butte wrapped up a total renovation in June. The updated interior and exterior look combines the charm and nostalgia of the longtime bed and breakfast hotel with contemporary finishes and amenities. The property has 28 guestrooms and suites, a mountain chalet, a cozy lobby with fireplace, function space for small groups, and a prime location near the slopes. Main-floor rooms are pet-friendly. Nordic Inn is the longest operating lodge in Gunnison County, opening in 1962 only one year after the opening of Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski area. Go to www.nordicinncb.com.
Culinary & Nightlife Happenings
Since opening in Crested Butte in 2001, Secret Stash has been known as a funky pizzeria with a one-of-a-kind atmosphere and incredibly unique and tasty pizzas. The Stash has moved down the street to a much larger location a the Company Store building on Crested Butte’s historic Elk Avenue, going from a seating capacity of 60 or so to 200-plus. An expanded menu includes pasta, a salad bar, a larger selection of appetizers and pizza by the slice. Secret Stash is open for breakfast seven days a week this winter, and a gift shop featuring gelato is part of the Stash’s new look. Go to www.stashpizza.com.
Jason Vernon, chef/owner of the Crested Butte’s well-known petite bistro Soupcon, has been involved in giving new life to another Crested Butte classic, Kochevar’s Saloon. This longtime favorite nightspot on Elk Avenue retains its original charm but sports new pool tables, dart boards, and an improved food and drink menu. Burgers, wings, pulled pork and more are available, plus a late-night menu includes the likes of a $5 burger. Visit www.facebook.com/kochevars.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is the first in the West to bring delicious hand-snack Belgium sugar waffles to the slopes. Through partnerships with a sister resort in Vermont, CBMR is bringing the popular East Coast ski slope favorite Waffle Cabin to Colorado and will locate the makers of golden goodness next to the guest service hut in the base area. Find out more atwww.wafflecabin.com and www.skicb.com.
Vacation Packages & Visitor Information
To save on flights, hotel rooms, vacation packages, car rentals and more, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association reservation hotline at (888) 559-0841 or go to http://book.