A favorite adventure is when we head to Colorado over winter break. NIU Outdoor Adventures has been leading groups to the Rocky Mountain slopes since 2016. With trips to Breckenridge, Keystone, and Winter Park and this year we had a maiden voyage to Crested Butte.
We head out in a 12-passengar van for a cross-country trek from DeKalb right Each year, our group is always very diverse. We use a group travel company to provide a discounted package for lift tickets, condo lodging, and rentals. Each year has been a little different with the location options and we choose the best price point.
This January, we picked Crested Butte, a place none of us have been to before. We discovered that it was a great surprise and full of fresh powder. It all started on the adventurous drive out.
We knew it would take longer than to Summit County, an area we were more familiar with, but we ran into a dreaded winter storm leading us to the powdered mountains. This did however delay us for an unplanned overnight stay. But the next morning, we tackled Monarch Pass, a very scenic high mountain pass that reaches an elevation of 11,312 feet.
The journey to get there was full of moments that bonded the group right off the bat.
Finally we arrived at a quaint mountain town with a great hometown atmosphere. Crested Butte is a national historic district founded in 1880. As we arrived on the first day the winter storm was ending and everything felt so magical.
The town had a great vibe with an adorable book shop, great yoga studio, tea shop, and a Nordic Ski Center with a solid trail system of over 50 kilometers of groomed trails. We discovered that the town has two claims: Crested Butte is both the Nordic Ski Capital of Colorado and the Wildflower Capital of Colorado.
But we were there to shred the powder for three full days. Some of the group went out an extra day to enjoy the fresh powder the afternoon we arrived. On the last ski day, there was another fresh snow that fell all day, ending our week perfectly.
Crested Butte Ski resort has roughly 120 trails, 40% of the runs being beginner or intermediate. The Silver Queen Express lift takes you up 2,072 feet to nearly the top of the peak. Some of our favorite runs included: Yellow Brick Road, Silver Queen into Paradise Bowl, and Houston.
Some of us took advantage of the terrain park and black diamond runs. A 12-year-old boy joined along with his mother on the trip, he took lessons every day to improve his skills. His instructor guided him on challenging black diamond runs and led him through the terrain park for the first time and he just thrived.
Despite half the group being snowboarders, the other half skiers at times, we all shredded the gnarr together. Some of the time we went on our own adventures to explore the mountain and push our skills. .
The mountain is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. We would use the free shuttle bus whenever we were ready to head out for the day. Some stayed all day and packed their own lunch while others would head back to the condo for lunch and to explore at their own pleasure. There also was a shuttle to take us from the resort at Mount Crested Butte to town.
The days were full and each night one group would host the other room for a homecooked meal in their 6-person condo. On the last day, we all went out to town together for pizza at the Secret Stash before heading on an uneventful but long 21-hour journey including stops back to DeKalb.
Crested Butte was such a good time, we hope to plan a summer trip to hike and explore more of the scenic valley during Wildflower season. Let us know if you have visited Crested Butte or want to join us on a future group adventure! We are headed to Olympic National Park in Washington in July!