Crested Butte isn’t the most accessible town. If you want to arrive via dirt road, you have some options (in the summer). If you want to stick to pavement, you’ve only got one choice — Highway 135, up the valley from the south.
Maybe it’s the accessibility that does it, the controlled access, but I don’t think so. This is a friendly town, but it can’t be that friendly, can it? It didn’t feel Stepford, it felt wonderful. As a cue of wonderfulness, the no-lock thing is pretty subtle, but walking along the sidewalk, you eventually notice that none of the bikes are locked up — even the expensive ones. Thinking back, I wonder how many even-more-subtle things we missed that bolster the town’s awesomeness.
Crested Butte is a cyclist’s dream town. Everybody has a bike. Maybe there was a no-steal treaty signed decades ago that manages the thievery found in other towns. Nobody likes locking a bike. It’s annoying and carrying a lock is a pain. Not having to lock is very appealing.
Crested Buttes is also home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Find it along the main street inside the town’s museum. We visited and gawked at the old bikes on display and read through the bios of the inductees. It’s great if you’re a mountain bike fan. Plan to take in the rest of the museum if you visit — it’s not too big. Don’t miss seeing the glass-covered water grenades early settlers used to put out fires and spread glass shrapnel. Look for the pictures of the Crested Butte fire where the fire department exhausted the water supply and had to resort to explosives to put out the remaining fires. Explosives? We still don’t understand that one. It’s a wild town.
After the Hall of Fame, we grabbed a beer at The Eldo Brewery. Lisa fell in love with their brown ale and I enjoyed my IPA. After the beer, we strolled around and fell more in love with the town. We had to pass by the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin and save it for another trip (reluctantly). We strolled along the river that runs through the town and stared at the mountains that surround it. Crested Butte is surrounded by mountains — big mountains. Crested Butte feels exactly like a Colorado mountain town should feel.
Crested Butte is also a ski town, but the epicenter of downhill skiing is just to the north at the town of Mount Crested Butte. If you’re looking for something more grueling, do the Crested Butte to Aspen cross-country race (note: biking is an option in the summer).
I like Crested Butte. Lisa likes Crested Butte. She declared it her second-favorite mountain town (bumping Ketchum down a slot, Durango still in the lead). On our way back to the van, we stop at a real estate office to look at the listings in the window. The shanty-looking house we passed earlier on our stroll is for sale … for $995,000. Damn. We retreat to the campground.