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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.
Crested Butte Nordic Center. The community-owned Crested Butte Nordic Center maintains an extensive network of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. There are 34 miles of trails radiating out to the northwest, south, and east of Crested Butte. The trails cover flat and moderately rolling terrain across meadows and through aspen groves near the valley floor. A one-day adult trail pass costs $18. The views of some of the distant peaks are stunning. The Moonlight Dinner—on full-moon nights from December to March—includes a trek to a cozy yurt for a five-course dinner prepared by local chefs; the $70 per-person cost includes a trail pass and ski rentals. Check the website for other dinner packages held throughout the winter. 620 2nd St., Crested Butte, CO, 81224. 970/349–1707. www.cbnordic.org.
An adult day pass costs $15. The center also has a variety of season passes, ranging from $50 for a child's season pass to $150 for one adult and $350 for a family.
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