Best for: Expert skiers, mountain bikers and seekers of a laid-back, unpretentious way of living.
Claim to fame: Declared the Wildflower Capital of Colorado by the state legislature.
Don’t miss: The USA’s oldest and longest-running extreme skiing championship, now in its 19th year, held the third week in February.
Getting there: Gunnison airport is 35 miles away with non-stops from Denver, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Atlanta.
Tourism information: GunnisonCrestedButte.com, SkiCB.com,
Second homes: Crested Butte, Colo., preserves the Western way of life
By Larry Olmsted, Special for USA TODAY
“Authentic” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in Crested Butte— regardless of which Crested Butte you are in.
There is the old south-central Colorado mining town of Crested Butte, with its preserved Victorian architecture, narrow streets built for horses, and anti-franchise law that keeps it free of chain stores and restaurants.
Then there is the town of Mt. Crested Butte, better known as the ski resort, less than three miles away, the main reason most first- and second-home owners wind up here. With an après-ski scene that is much more hot wings and draughts than sushi and martinis, the area reflects a devotion to tradition that has caused both locals and Ski Magazine to call this “America’s Last Ski Town.”
“Telluride was a gold mining town, and Aspen was silver mining,” says Bo Stambaugh, managing broker of Crested Butte Mountain Resort Real Estate. “This was coal mining, and that difference is still reflected today.” When the owners of the ski resort commissioned a study to determine the area’s “brand,” the answer was preservation, Stambaugh says: “Preservation of the history, preservation of open space and preservation of the Western way of life.”
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This is a major destination resort in the state’s prime ski country, not a blue-collar working mine, and there are plenty of new condos and multimillion-dollar houses. But the condos have been developed on a discreet scale, and the mansions are relegated to larger wooded lots out of the public eye.
Nothing is too far away, and a free bus system links the mountain with the town and surrounding amenities like the large Nordic ski center and even the city of Gunnison, county seat and home to the airport, about 35 miles south.
Among skiers, Crested Butte has a well-deserved reputation for its ultra-challenging extreme terrain. It has more double-black-diamond expert trails — about 45 — than any other resort in Colorado. But in a very real sense, the resort is two mountains in one. Almost all the extreme terrain lies in bowls above the tree line that most visitors never enter. The main mountain is like most large resorts, split almost entirely between beginner, intermediate and expert runs, and in fact, Crested Butte boasts excellent terrain for learning.
Summer activities are plentiful, but the area is best known as one of the birthplaces of mountain biking. It’s home to the first organized race, extensive trail networks and the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame.
A look at three Crested Butte neighborhoods
• Mt. Crested Butte. Unlike many ski resorts, there is only one base area. Most residences are walking distance to the lifts, and the majority of condos and townhouses range from $85,000 to just under $2 million, with a median price of $354,500. Single-family houses start at $360,000 and soar to more than $6 million, with a median near $1.2 million. Broker Bo Stambaugh says popular options for second-home owners are the newer Lodge at Mountaineer Square and older Grand Lodge, which let owners generate revenue when they’re away.
• Town of Crested Butte. Though less expensive at the highest end than the ski resort, other price points are typically steeper because development is limited. There are far fewer condos and more small Victorian houses. It is more of a true community, and “one appeal is more year-round services and restaurants,” Stambaugh says. Condos run $132,000 to $1.5 million, with a median of $492,500. Single-family houses run from the mid $400,000s to just under $3 million, with a median of $899,000.
• Prospect. On the ski mountain and technically within the municipality of Mount Crested Butte, this is its own 400-acre neighborhood and the only development outside the base area. Prospect is mostly custom homes on one- to two-acre lots, with one small development of pre-designed luxury houses clustered on smaller lots. The community is entirely residential and the most expensive in the region, with lots starting at $600,000. Pre-designed four-bedroom houses begin at $875,000, and custom homes run to $6 million.
Corey Dwan – REALTOR
Benson Sotheby’s International Realty
P.O. Box 210
433 Sixth Street
Crested Butte, CO 81224
970-325-3219 World Wide Cell