Ten best places to visit when you’re in Crested Butte

Carly and ross Holbrook take a break at the top of West Maroon Pass near Crested Butte while hiking from Crested Butte to Aspen. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

Enjoy these pics from my last few days in Colorado. After three nights in the Crested Butte, I’m moving on today, to explore Great Sand Dunes National Park. Before I leave, I thought I’d share some of my favorite places to visit:

1. Secret Stash, http://www.secretstash.com: You can’t go to Crested Butte and not visit the Stash, where waiters wear T-shirts that say Pizza Kills. The decor is Indian (I have no idea), the crust is bubbly, the place is the bomb.

It’s chilly here in Crested Butte this week. Today’s morning temperature was 37. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

2. Dogwood, https://thedogwoodcb.wordpress.com: An old cabin on a sidestreet that serves up craft cocktails. Go get lost in there.

3. Sunflower: Try the charred carrots (seriously) and one of the charcuterie trays at this high-end dinner spot. Also, the lamb ravioli.

The leaves are starting to change around Crested Butte this week. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

4. Third Bowl Homemade Ice Cream, https://www.thirdbowl.com: I tried a scoop of carrot cake, but look for a rotating case of flavors like pineapple serrano or blackberry bergamot.

5. The Slogar Bar and Restaurant, https://slogar.com: Trays of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits, served family style in an old 1880s-era house.

6. Montanya, http://www.montanyarum.com: Belly up to the bar and order the Kokomo, a blend of rum, lemon, lime, fresh mint, coconut and ginger beer.

7. Public House, http://publichousecb.com: They feature Colorado beers, and the best on tap (I think) come from Crested Butte’s Irwin Brewery. Sit at the bar and admire the cotton candy fur of the white goat mounted on the wall.

The Cristiana Guesthaus has a fleet of bikes out front for guest use. Pam LeBlanc/American-Stateman

8. Cristiana Guesthaus, https://cristianaguesthaus.com: I’ve got two favorite places to stay in Crested Butte now, and this cozy, European-vibe gets my vote for several reasons: Homemade pastries on the continental breakfast, fresh-baked cookies in the afternoon and complimentary red wine in the evening. Plus a fleet of bicycles out front for your use.

9. Elk Mountain Lodge, http://www.elkmountainlodge.com: This gets my other nod. I’m pretty sure things have changed since miners rented rooms here a century ago. Today guests can order drinks in the lobby, soak in a hot tub and enjoy french toast or homemade biscuits for breakfast. And it’s just two blocks off Elk Avenue. Comfy and cozy.

10. A bench on Elk Avenue: No need to get fancy. After you’ve finished hiking or skiing for the day, grab a seat on a bench and watch the people go by.

When in Crested Butte, don’t miss this high-elevation hike

Someone hung a tie-dyed T-shirt on a post at the top of Scarp’s Ridge.


I warmed up for tomorrow’s big hike from Crested Butte to Aspen by climbing to the top of Scarp Ridge today.

The trailhead lies just above Irwin Lake, about 20 minutes outside of Crested Butte. Park your vehicle on the side of the road near the green-roofed Irwin Lodge, which serves as a ski chalet in the winter, and head uphill.

Beautiful scenery looking up at Scarp Ridge.

The trail forks almost immediately. It’s a loop, but we took the left side fork first to cover the steepest stuff first. The trail meanders through clusters of pines and a few aspen. Look down and you can see the lake in the distance.

Hike the loop trail counter clockwise. That way you’ll cover the steepest terrain on the way up.

The round-trip hike only covers about 4.6 miles, but you gain a lot of elevation. We started hiking at about 10,700 feet and climbed to just higher than 12,000 feet. Along the way we got great views of mountain bowls, vistas and trees, and flushed plenty of chipmonks out of the underbrush.

We missed the summer wildflower show, but got a sneak peak of fall. The trees are just starting to turn here this week. Some of the aspens wore yellow leaves this morning, a nice change after their summer greens.

Hiking up Scarp Ridge.

Plan on a couple of leisurely hours to make the hike, and bring plenty of water. For more information go to https://travelcrestedbutte.com/crested-butte-hikes-scarp-ridge-middle-loop/.

Starting a Colorado adventure at Denver’s Union Station

Union Station in Denver was renovated in 2012 and includes hotels, shops, restaurants and a train terminal. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

Don’t hate me, but I’m currently wrapped in a comforter, looking out the window of the Cristiana Guesthaus in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Temperatures are hovering in the 30s out there, with highs predicted in the 50s. I’ve got a few days of hiking on my agenda, plus some sand surfing and a burro race.

I started this year’s Colorado adventure in Denver, where my sister and her husband live. Before heading to the mountains, I spent half a day downtown, checking out the trendy LoDo area.

I stayed the night at The Born hotel, adjacent to Union Station. The first railyard was built here in 1881, but it burned in 1894. The existing terminal was finished in 1914 and renovated in 2012. It’s a great community space, with a splash pad outside, museums nearby and lots of activity day and night.

The station still serves as the city’s central transportation hub, with rail and bus service in addition to an assortment of hotels, shops, restaurants and bars. It’s located at the intersection of 17th and Wynkoop Streets.

The whole place feels European, and if you’d told me I’d somehow been transported to Switzerland, I’d probably have believed you, until I noticed that the trains weren’t all precisely on time.

The historic terminal is done just right, with wooden benches and huge hanging lights, brass detailing, leather couches, tile floors and a pair of shuffleboard tables. The Terminal bar serves up cocktails, and an ice cream joint sells milkshakes made with shots of booze.

Today, hiking around Crested Butte. Tomorrow, if the storms hold off, I’m walking from Crested Butte to Aspen, returning the following day.

Stay tuned.