The coal-mining-town-turned-ski-hub that is Crested Butte is hands down one of our absolute favorite places on Earth for all of the reasons we love Colorado—alpine lakes, craggy peaks, stellar singletrack, backdoor access to BLM lands, and of course the skiing (though we personally didn’t get to experience this). We crossed over high mountain passes, dipped in snowmelt lakes and hot springs, and even saw two bull moose! We’ll definitely be back, but if you happen to beat us to it, this how we decided to #gooutsideandplay in CB.
Gothic Road is like a gravel beltway of adventure. Pass through the old town of Gothic and park at the Copper Creek trailhead. Four-wheel drive cars will be able to access the Judd Falls trailhead just beyond Copper Creek’s parking area, but don’t sweat it if you can’t drive up there. It’s a short, half-mile climb up to the trail itself. From there it’s five miles of relatively flat walking (at least until the final mile) to Copper Lake, a stunning alpine lake that sits in a bowl of picturesque mountains.
We decided to base camp here for the next day’s out-and-back excursion to Conundrum Hot Springs. Start early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms. It’s a pretty steady two-mile butt-buster up to Triangle Pass, but the views are amazing. The trail hugs the mountainside and is often loose scree, so be careful as you hike. Drop down over Triangle Pass and hike until you reach Conundrum Creek. The hot springs are extremely popular and can be accessed from Aspen, so don’t be surprised to see people here. We recommend heading there on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Go in the summertime when the wildflowers are in bloom—the valley is absolutely spectacular. Round trip mileage comes in around 24 miles, which makes for a great two- or three-day excursion.
Camping in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness requires all visitors to have a bear canister, so be sure to bring one yourself or you can rent one from The Alpineer for $20. At certain times of the year there are free dispersed car camping sites along Gothic Road, as well as a pretty primitive campground (rates from $12 per night), so be sure to check local guidelines depending on the season.
We’re coffee fiends, so when we landed at First Ascent Coffee Roasters, we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. They make their own bread here (check out the bagel breakfast sandwiches) and offer WiFi as well as a quiet place to work upstairs. It’s the perfect place to post up when CB’s weather turns damp, which is practically every day sometime after 2pm.
Like what you see in this post? Check out the portable and easy-to-use LifeStraw Go Water Bottle, apparel and shoes from La Sportiva, the Damascus Elite hiker sock from Farm to Feet, the always comfortable Crazy Creek chair, and the most useful GPS made, the DeLorme InReach Explorer.