Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Skiing & Non-skiing Activities: An Unprecedented Family Vacation

My family had an unprecedented vacation to Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR).

It wasn’t just attributed to the eight inches of fresh powder without a lift line in sight or the glistening Elk Mountains (the frozen equivalent of Shangri-La). But rather, because I skied my first double-black diamond run (Rachels)…and later managed to fall getting off the chairlift as I avoided a wayward ski-schooler.

Par for the course in a funky mountain hamlet where you should expect the unexpected.

Camp CB

Hands down, Crested Butte is my favorite Colorado mountain town (read my summer exploits) and I was positively giddy to ski Crested Butte Mountain Resort for the first time.

My family awoke to snow flurries but by the time Hadley and Bode headed to Camp CB in the Whetstone Building, it was a bluebird day with fresh powder. The children’s center’s location requires a bit of a hike in snow boots but was characteristically uncrowded (great news as it pertains to teacher-to-student ratios) and we met Bubba and Betty, the resort’s friendly mascots.

Four-year-old Bode was enrolled in the Explorers Level II program. There are two magic carpet areas (Aspen and Pine) and he spent his day on the more advanced of the two mastering his pizzas and stops. Hadley bonded with her teacher “Sparkles” and was thrilled to graduate to a Level 5 skier under her guidance.

At the end of the day, I took Haddie for a run down the Red Lady lift. She impressed me with her parallel-turning moxie so I decided to return the favor.

“Do you want to watch Mommy ski deep powder?” I [Read more...]

A veritable cut of promontory paradise

Haddie and I are en route to Puerto Rico for a press trip at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino so my next post will be from our oceanfront Shangri-la.

But first things first: an update about my cut of heaven in the mountains.

If there is a must-visit destination in Colorado, it is Crested Butte in July. I finally wrote about our paradisaical vacation that included the Crested Butte Music Festival, nature camp at one of the most renowned high-altitude field stations in the United States, a gravity-defying Adventure Park and my own backcountry explorations wherein I did not get lost.

You can get up off the floor now.

And fear not because I got lost on a different adventure. I have wanted to hike Snodgrass Mountain since I drove by the trailhead last summer and finally got my chance. One morning, I hit the trail at dawn and was delighted to find myself completely alone.

This would later prove to be a wee bit problematic because I kinda needed to ask directions.

The 5-mile hike started out on an old service road that climbed to a plateau. At one point, I stopped to catch my breath but it never happened. The reason? The breathtaking scene that unfolded was taken from the exact place as a professional photograph that was sent to me last summer by Crested Butte’s publicist.

Here is the picture I took.

My attempt does not even come close to capturing the mountain’s majesty. It is not difficult to figure out why Crested Butte was christened the official Wildflower Capital of Colorado and holds an annual Wildflower Festival.

I felt like I was in a dream as I ascended until I encountered a fork in the trail. I could continue on the service road or follow the Snodgrass Trail singletrack through an aspen grove and Monet canvas of wildflowers.

I chose the latter.

Several minutes later, I ran into another intersection. One trail dipped down and indicated it led to Washington Gulch. Another was unmarked and headed straight up the mountain. I was at a crossroads. Should I follow the marked trail to an unknown destination or follow the unmarked path?

In a decidedly Robert Browning moment, I chose the road less traveled. But here’s the thing the dude never says in his poem:

He never made it to the summit.

But on that day, with the fuchsia pinks, sunny yellows and majestic purples of the lupines, Aspen sunflowers and mule’s ears, not caring made all the difference.

Crested Butte Family Travel Report: Musical Mayhem in the Mountains

(Originally published at Mile High Mamas).

We all have our happy places and Crested Butte is mine. With this week’s staggering triple-digit-temperatures, Crested Butte’s crisp mountain air has never sounded so good.

A world-class music festival and a bounteous recreational playground don’t sound too bad, either.

A few highlights of my family’s recent trip to this gorgeous mountain hamlet included:

Crested Butte Music Festival

My kids are not musical aficionados but the CMMF’s Divine Family Young People’s Concerts may just make a convert out of them. Designed for kids ages 4-12, these free concerts are held every Saturday at 11 a.m. during the festival. My kids raced around the lawn at the base of Mt. Crested Butte dancing and singing to the Barefoot Bluegrass Band’s foot-stomping tunes. But it didn’t stop there. The new Trailhead Children’s Museum (a definite must-visit) also offered free face painting, art projects, bubbles and more.

The Crested Butte Music Festival’s impressive line-up of world-class musicians will be performing in paradise until August 5, 2010.

Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

I am in love with one of the nation’s most renowned high-altitude field stations in Gothic, just 4 miles from Crested Butte. My kids spent a morning in RMBL’s sold-out Nature Camp and are still raving about the fox, deer, marmot and bird sightings. The counselors are real professionals and the curriculum’s activities delve deeply into the surrounding ecosystems. That day, my children made their own microbes out of recycled materials.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out what the heck a microbe is.

Gothic Valley

While the kids were in Nature Camp, I explored Gothic Valley’s backcountry. Mountain bikers populated Gothic Road in their pilgrimage to their famous Mecca: Trail 401. The main drag connects to Aspen via Schofield Pass, a precarious four-wheel drive road.

I followed the dirt road for several miles but when it began a fractured ascent, I ditched my car and started hiking. Stubborn snowfields produced a cascade of waterfalls, a breeze stroked the velvet greenery and I played on a snow cap that blocked the road. My reward was a true jewel: Emerald Lake.

Spending a few hours sans kids in tow wasn’t too bad, either. :-)

Adventure Park

Located at the base of Mt. Crested Butte, the Adventure Park is a must-visit. We soared up the Red Lady Express Lift and hiked around the summit with sweeping views of the West Elk mountain range. My 3-year-old son dominated the 18-hole miniature golf course by averaging 10 strokes (per hole), my daughter conquered the 28-foot Climbing Pinnacle and I made a failed attempt at a double-back flip on the turbo-charged, gravity-defying bungee trampoline.

OK, admittedly the single-back didn’t go too well, either.

Area Recreation

You could spend a lifetime exploring Crested Butte’s backcountry splendors. One morning, I arose at dawn to hike the famed Snodgrass Mountain (5 miles round-trip), which offers some of the most epic views of the area. If you have small children, be sure to do the Lower Loop Trail to cobalt-blue Peanut Lake, which has the glorious Paradise Divide mountain range as the backdrop.

One day, I biked 5.4 miles on the paved path from Mt. Crested Butte down into town. And yes, that which goes down must go back up. Very slowly.


If the outer-world beauty of the surrounding peaks doesn’t make you feel like you’re on another planet, a stroll through Crested Butte will. This quirky, multi-hued town is a National Historic District and boasts anomalies such as a two-story outhouse. The local’s mode of transportation is funky cruiser bikes. There are so many hanging baskets of burgeoning flowers that you’ll swear it must be a city ordinance.

LAVISH is a hip accessory shop for moms and daughters will love LAVISH PETITE in the back of the store. Toy store Pooh’s Corner delighted my kids for over an hour.


For breakfast, be sure to try Izzy’s breakfast burrito with Indian spices. Dine creek-side but expect a long wait on the weekends. The Secret Stash pizzeria redefines eclectic with decor showcasing the owner’s world travels. Service is friendly, the kitchen is slow but Asher’s Pie (with a BBQ sauce and chipotle base, Canadian bacon, and grilled chicken) made it worth it.

One night must be dedicated to indulging at django’s, a restaurant and wine bar I discovered last summer. Admittedly, this Brussells-sprout-despising gal spent an entire year craving this dish with apples, crème fraîche, apple cider reduction and pistachios. A new fan favorite: seared rocky mountain elk tenderloin with blackberry sauce and a dash of heaven.

Lodge at Mountaineer Square

There are many great lodging deals in Crested Butte and the surrounding areas. Our personal favorite is the Lodge at Mountaineer Square. Conveniently located a stone’s throw away from the Adventure Park and a bevvy of restaurants and shops, their luxurious rooms vary in size from the King Room to four-bedroom suites. After a morning of adventure, my family spent every afternoon playing in the indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool and soaking in the hot tub. The Lodge offers 15% off lodging during festivals and you can save 25% on lodging this fall.

For additional information, go to and

Crested Butte: The Honk, the Miracle and the Luxury

The kids, Aunt Lisa and I are currently in Crested Butte. Colorado has many fantastic resorts but visiting this mountain hamlet in July is one of the best family vacations you will ever take (find out why here). Jamie was supposed to join us this evening but he now claims he is coming down with the flu.

I’m still trying to ascertain if it’s just a ploy to stay home so he can give his pumpkins more undivided attention.

Our road trip has been eventful thus far. A few highlights:

1) We stopped in Poncho Springs for ice cream. As we were departing, I plugged the DVD player into the cigarette lighter and created some kind of short circuit in my Pilot. The result? The horn would not stop honking.

2) I somehow misplaced both power cords for our Nintendo DSi and DSi XL, a major diversion for both kids. We pulled over in Gunnison and visited the second smallest Wal-Mart in the U.S.

It was so small it didn’t have what I needed. #Fail.

3) One of my most perfect family travel moments was the free outdoor concert at the base of Mt. Crested Butte last year. This year, the conditions for this Wednesday night tradition were less-than-idyllic: a moody daughter and a threatening sky.

Thankfully, her moodiness was forgotten as we devoured grilled burgers, rocked to the tunes from TBird & the Breaks and the kids rolled down the hill.

And got completely and gloriously drenched from a refreshing summer rain.

4) We are staying in a three-bedroom condo at the slope-side Lodge at Mountaineer Square. We went swimming in their gorgeous pool and face-in-the-water-phobic Bode mastered the kick board all by himself. Evidently, miracles happen here.

I just hope such luxury does not go to their heads.

On tap for Thursday: Exploring the Adventure Park, riding the chairlift and hiking the summit, playing in town and more swimming.