Ski area operators usually pray to the snow gods for more. But at one point in the middle of the 2016-17 season, Crested Butte Mountain Resort asked for less. The resort had to close temporarily as angry storms delivered a powder overload.
As rare as the event was, it shows why about 600,000 skiers and snowboarders come to these slopes every year. On a list with all Colorado resorts, Crested Butte consistently ranks near the top for snow totals. It's more remote than the state's busiest areas in Summit County, but regulars return for the unique terrain. Only 26 percent is for beginners, the resort's breakdown shows.
Crested Butte likes to calls itself "the last great ski town" as it pays homage to the old ways of mountain life. It's owned by a family that had history in mind when naming a resort restaurant Uley's Cabin, for the storied local moonshiner of yesteryear. Downtown maintains its village-like appearance, though the colorful, Victorian buildings lining Elk Avenue now house tourist staples such as clothing boutiques, candy shops and art galleries.
The resort is not without the fancy dining options and upscale hotels you'd expect in Aspen or Vail. But you won't get those resorts' busy runs and long lift lines. And the views in Crested Butte are tough to top, with the namesake mountain a unique sight, along with the peaks named Snodgrass and Gothic.
Skiable terrain: 1,547 acres
Average annual snowfall: 300 inches
Check out: Crested Butte Nordic, Camp 4 Coffee, Django's Restaurant and Wine Bar, Secret Stash, Eldo Brew Pub, Montanya Distillers, Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, ghost town of Gothic.
Getting there: Take Colorado 115 south to U.S. 50 west, following to Crested Butte
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE