Backcountry Skiing in Crested Butte
Crested Butte Nordic Center. Crested Butte abounds with backcountry possibilities. You can rent cross-country skis or snowshoes, then head out on one of the Forest Service roads that radiate from town—particularly Washington Gulch, Slate River Road, and Gothic Road. You can also head into the backcountry on a guided tour. You can hike up the slopes for above-tree-line trips, but this requires strong legs and lungs, the right equipment, and lots of experience. This is the high country—the town itself is around 9,000 feet, and things go up from there—and weather and snow conditions can change with little or no warning. The Crested Butte Nordic Center offers half- and full-day packages that include transportation, guides, and equipment. If you're traveling with a group you can rent one of two ski huts in the old town site of Gothic. The center also hosts the Annual Alley Loop Nordic Marathon, held in early February. This is an American Birkebeiner qualifying race, but local amateurs and visitors can join the experts in their cross-country race through the town's snow-covered streets and alleys, past snow-corniced homes, and down the scenic trails along the edge of town. 620 2nd St., Crested Butte, CO, 81224. 970/349–1707. www.cbnordic.org.
The Alpineer. This iconic Crested Butte shop rents top-notch backcountry and telemark equipment, as well as classic nordic and skate skis. The staff offers expert advice on routes and snow conditions. 419 6th St., Crested Butte, CO, 81224. 970/349–5210. www.alpineer.com.
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