Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tucked In The Mountains: Crested Butte, Colorado


Searching out the best places to read, write or sip on the Western Slope


If you’re looking for a mountain location that typifies Colorado, offers skiing and dramatic mountains and a historic and quaint downtown, you need look no further than Crested Butte. CB, as the locals call it, is one of the premier yet still not overly commercialized skiing destinations in Colorado. In fact, even for many Coloradans this little mountain town remains relatively unknown. It’s just a four hour drive from Denver and worth every minute of gorgeous scenery.

Originally settled as a mining town, Crested Butte still retains much of its historic flavor with original buildings and architecture. Look closely as you walk the streets and you may notice a few of the older homes have doorways at a second floor level. If the snow was deep enough to bury the front door, there was always the upstairs door to use.

When you visit Crested Butte, you’ll want your first stop to be the famed Elk Avenue, home to upscale gift shops, galleries and eclectic assortment of clothing stores. Of course, you won’t want to miss the locally and independently owned bookstore, Townie Books, and maybe stop for a cup of coffee while you browse books at the attached, Rumors Coffee and Tea House.

When you’ve worked up a hunger in the high altitude air, there are plenty of gourmet restaurants along Elk Avenue too. If you’re in the mood for a taste south of the border, stop off at Donitas Cantina and be sure to order a large margarita. If it’s pizza you’re craving, visit The Secret Stash, the absolute best and most unique pie this writer has ever tasted. Another local favorite, Slogars, is just off Elk Avenue and serves up fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and real creamed corn, family style, all sure to make your taste buds dance and your arteries slow down, just a little. One of my personal favorites is Pitas In Paradise home of delicious gyros and falafels.

There are many galleries to feed your creative appetite as well. My favorite, Paragon Gallery, is the oldest art cooperative in Colorado and features 14 regular, local artists. The Paragon is located in the old City Hall building erected in 1883. If you stop by in summer, be sure to check out the dates for the People’s Fair—a glorious street fair sponsored by the Paragon and featuring a wide variety of arts, crafts, music and vendor food.

Of course, you’ll want to drive up to Mt. Crested Butte and check out one of the best ski resorts in Colorado. The Mountain has been featured in many magazines for its still unassuming but excellent skiing atmosphere. In the summer, take a lift ride up the mountain and soak in the incredible wild flowers or mountain bike the many trails.

If you come this far you’ll want to have time to explore the amazing scenery. There’s no shortage of lodging, but my favorite is Elk Mountain Lodge located just off Elk Avenue. Originally built as a miners’ boarding house, it is a simple yet historic flash to the past and features a full breakfast during peak season, gorgeous sitting rooms and a library—ideal for a writing retreat. If you’re looking for something a little less expensive and more earthy, check out the Crested Butte Hostel.

There is never a lack of activities in Crested Butte including hiking, scenic, breath-taking drives, mountain biking, skiing, fly fishing and too many recreational locations and activities to mention. And don’t forget the Crested Butte Writers Conference, June 21-23. It might just be the perfect excuse to visit and soak in a little mountain paradise.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Julie Luekenga lives in the high mountain ranching community of Gunnison, CO and is a freelance writer published in regional and national publications and a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Writing under the name Julie Luek, she maintains two blogs, A Thought Grows and In Fine Company and is a regular, every other week, contributor to the international writing website, She Writes. Please visit her on Twitter @Julieluek and on Facebook.

31 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Looks like a beautiful place to explore.

Al Diaz said...

It must be very very cold, but the sights are amazing!

Nick Wilford said...

Ni skier but it looks like it has a great atmosphere.

Melissa said...

One of these days, I'm going to get an RV and tour the US. I'll have to add this town to my list. :)

R. Mac Wheeler said...

I'm packing my bags.

Julie Luek said...

You all are so great to visit Chiseled. Thank you. CB is an amazing little town, quirky, eclectic and still unspoiled by fame's influence. Come visit. I'll leave the porch light on.

J. A. Bennett said...

So pretty! reminds me of Breckenridge, but maybe with a few less tourists? Looks beautiful :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

I would love to visit - it sounds like a slice of heaven on earth!
I loved the bit about the doors on the second floor because of snow levels - that's kind of amazing and resourceful at the same time.

Julie Luek said...

Crested Butte, maybe because of its location, has yet to be hit as hard by the glitz, but is still very much a tourist destination. Every now and again there is a star siting, but mostly people just kind of nod and go on with it. It is a gorgeous place to visit, summer or winter. And yes, Tyrean, the second story doors are fun to see. :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

One more place in my own state I haven't visited yet. It's on my list now. Wonderful photos, Julie.

Yolanda Renee said...

Thanks for the tour, such a beautiful scenic place. Looks like a magical place to soak up the atmosphere and write, write, write!

Julie Flanders said...

What a picturesque and beautiful place. I would love to visit that book store and the coffee house attached to it, how perfect. Thanks for the tour!

Gwen Gardner said...

Looks like a great place to spend the weekend! Doors on the second floor? LOL! That's too funny.

And Colorado has the prettiest wildflowers I've ever seen. Love that time of year!

Julie Luek said...

We're still a little buried in snow, but hopefully we'll have enough moisture for the wildflowers this year. CB hosts a Wildflower Festival each year (http://www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com/), another great reason to visit.

S.P. Bowers said...

The town looks beautiful. Colorado is one of the places we've talked about moving. Now hubby just has to find a job....

J.L. Campbell said...

Nice pictures, Julie. You can tell the town has been around for a good, long while.

Tara Tyler said...

adorable!!
i visited aspen once, a long time ago. beautiful is right!

2busy said...

I love how you've captured CB. You have created a need to visit.

M. J. Joachim said...

Definitely looks like a neat place to visit.

Julie Luek said...

S.P. -- if you get serious about moving here, let me know and let me know what kind of work hubby is in, maybe I can help you make the move and we can meet and have a glass of wine and talk about how we are famous writers.... (hey I can dream).

Hi Tara-- CB is like an earth muffin version of Aspen-- it's really much more down-to-earth and comfy and less "on show". I really love the little town (and it's pizza too!)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I would love to go to that writing conference. This looks like a beautiful town.

T.J. said...

Another one I haven't visited in years! *sigh* One day...

Julie Luek said...

Susan, come up! We can go together. And TJ, now you have a connection next time you visit. They have a distillery too that I didn't mention in the article. I've not been...yet.

Cynthia said...

This looks like such a quaint and charming place to be. One of the things I like about the blogosphere is I get to learn about hidden gems such as this that I would normally not get to hear about.

Carrie Butler said...

This was fun! It felt like a virtual tour. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Looks like a great place for a relaxing vacation! Thanks for sharing this.

Damyanti said...

I want to be gifted a vacation there :)

Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Sounds like it would be a perfect retreat!

Mel Kinnel said...

Julie, it really does sound and look great where you live!

Julie Luek said...

Well here's the deal. Any of you want to come up for a little mountain, writing retreat, I will create your own, private writing corner with a window view. If you can handle a smelly weimaraner nosing for attention sometimes, you're welcome. I'll even buy wine for after-writing cocktail hour.

MEX-WORKS RACING said...

We just moved to Crested Butte. The town is just as you described it! I'm kind of ready for spring right now, though :)