Located in a remote valley high in the Rocky Mountains, part of Crested Butte’s charm is that it feels very far away from the big cities of the Colorado Front Range, and the Interstate-served resort areas of Summit County.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s all that hard to get here. A number of major airlines offer direct flights and Denver connections into Gunnison airport in the winter, and there’s convenient shuttle service from the airport to Crested Butte (although it must be booked in advance).
Though flights are less frequent in the summertime, there are still a number of daily arrivals and departures on United Express to and from Denver International Airport (DIA). It’s also worth looking at flights into Colorado Springs (3.75 hours away), Grand Junction (3 hours away) and Montrose (2 hours away).
Bus service from Denver to Gunnison is available via Greyhound. This is usually a 5 hour ride. Then, you’ll have to take a 30 minute ride from Gunnison to Crested Butte on a Gunnison Valley RTA bus.
If you are driving to Crested Butte from metro Denver, the trip takes about four and a half hours in good weather. Add 30 minutes if you are coming from the Denver airport. Add even more time if the roads are snowy or slick.
Use Caution with Map Apps
Google Maps, MapQuest, etc. sometimes try to route people via impassable roads. Double-check that your route doesn’t include roads that are closed seasonally. Also, be aware that the road from Marble to Crested Butte (going over Schofield Pass) is only passable in the summer and only in an atv or in a narrow wheel-base jeep with an expert driver.
Winter Road Closures
Following the first big snow storm in the fall, Kebler Pass Road is officially closed into Crested Butte. Cottonwood Pass Road, from Buena Vista to the Taylor Park area is also closed. These roads reopen with the spring thaw, usually in mid-May.
For the rest of the winter, our only highway access is via US 50 which runs east-west through Gunnison, and then HWY 135 north for 30 miles to the end of the road in Crested Butte.
Check with the Colorado Department of Transportation for current road conditions. The routes you’ll likely be interested in are:
US 285 from Denver to Poncha Springs
US 50 over Monarch Pass and into Gunnison
HWY 135 from Gunnison to Crested Butte
Unlike many other destination ski resorts, it’s easy to go without a car in Crested Butte. If booked in advance, Alpine Express shuttles meet every flight at the airport, and take you from the airport to town. Once you get to Crested Butte, you won’t want the hassle of alternate-side-winter parking and clearing snow off your car every morning. Our town is quite small, and everything is close by. Crested Butte also has convenient free bus service between the ski area, town, and most condominium locations. You can ride the bus practically anywhere you need to go in Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.
For late nights, Alpine Express operates a late night service from 10 PM to 2:30 AM, daily during the summer season (Late May-mid October). Ski Season service is available daily Thanksgiving thru close of ski season. Cost is $5 per person between the two towns and $7.00 for CB South. Cost is for each direction of travel. For late night service, call 970-209-0509. Shared ride service.
In the summer, it’s still easy to explore town without a car and transportation can be arranged to many trailheads. However, having a car opens up tons of possibilities and might be the best option of you’re interested in exploring the backcountry or the many scenic drives in the area.