Spectacular Famcations on the Slopes & Beyond in Gunnison-Crested Butte CO

In Gunnison Crested Butte, Colo., family merriment and total relaxation abounds in 1880s-era towns that are rich in history, charm and friendliness (photo courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort).

Take winter fun to the next level, Rocky Mountain-style, in Gunnison Crested Butte, Colo., where family merriment and total relaxation abounds in 1880s-era towns that are rich in history, charm and friendliness, and there are Fly Free and Rent Free deals that make the trip wallet-friendly, too.

At the Ski Area, Mt. Crested Butte

Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR, www.skicb.com) offers fun for all ages, even if you don’t ski! Of course there are plenty of options to cruise all levels of slopes on your own or with a guide/instructor, and skiing is free for kids age 6 and under.

The Adventure Park is for all ages with a covered ice-skating rink, bungee trampolines, rock climbing wall and lift-served tubing hill.  You also can tap into the magic of sleighride dinners to Uley’s Cabin pulled by a snowcat and daytime and moonlight snowshoe tours.

There are skiing and snowboarding lessons for youth and adults at CBMR, as well as through Adaptive Sports Center (www.adapativesports.org) for family members with physical and/or cognitive disabilities.  There’s also child care for the wee ones, not to mention Kid’s Night Out, available every evening from 4 – 8 p.m. for ages 4 – 12.  Dinner and access to the Adventure Park and tubing hill are part of the Kid’s Night Out activities.

During ski season, the Trailhead Children’s Discovery Museum will be open every day in the Outpost Building next to the Adventure Center from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Kids can enjoy an indoor playground, science experiments, art stations and several exhibits, with special events held every weekend at various times.  Admission is $6 per person.  For information and schedule of events, go to www.trailheadkids.org.

The museum and Crested Butte Music Festivalare teaming up to offer a Kids Rock winter entertainment series especially for families with children between ages 2 – 9.  The performances will be held on the four Saturdays from Feb. 19 – March 12.  Charlie Hope (singer), Wise Fool (puppetry, theatre & more), Jim Jackson (clown) and Jim Cosgrove (kid rocker) are currently on the schedule.The series will take place at 4 p.m. in the Mountaineer Square Ballroom in Mt. Crested Butte, except the Feb. 26 show will be at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts.  The cost is $5 per person for each concert.  For more information, go to www.crestedbuttemusicfestival.com or www.trailheadkids.org.

 

In Town, Crested Butte Area

The Crested Butte Nordic Center has cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and sledding all in one place. The Nordic Center grooms more than 50k of trails and offers instruction, equipment rentals and many events.  Use of the outdoor ice rink and sledding hill are free, and a pass is required to use the groomed trails. Call (970) 349-1707 or visit www.cbnordic.org.

If you’d rather not expel your own energy to get around and love horses and dogs, check out one of these great options.

  • Board a horse-drawn sleigh at Lazy F Bar Ranch south of Crested Butte for a scenic, 35-minute ride to a rustic 1950s cabin overlooking the East River and indulge in a five-course meal.  Visit www.lazyfbarranch.comor call (970) 641-0193.
  • Head out with Fantasy Ranch Horseback Adventures for a one-hour ride in the Almont area.  Halfway through the journey, warm up by the fire at Almont Resort with a cup of hot cocoa.  Visit www.fantasyranchoutfitters.com or call 888-OUTFITT.
  • There is nothing quite like being pulled by a team of dogs in the thick of mountain terrain capped with snow.  Dog sledding with Lucky Cat Dog Farm is one of those lifetime experiences not to be missed.  Visit www.luckycatdogfarm.com or call (970) 641-1636 for details about lunch tours and short tours.

Enrich your mind at the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, where there are displays about local history, including skiing, ranching, mining, local personalities and more. The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame also is located in the museum, along with a gift shop that all ages relish. Just down the street, catch a concert or art exhibit at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts and take in a little theatre at a production presented by Crested Butte Mountain Theatre.  Or get the creative juices flowing and paint your own pottery at The Pottery Place, which is part of The Studio Art School, which offers art classes for all ages.

Must-stops for young families on Elk Avenue are Pooh’s Corner and Petite Lavish, and teens love sitting on the floor on pillows or beanbags to eat gourmet pizza at The Secret Stash and shopping for the latest sunglasses at Shades of Crested Butte and styles at Retail Therapy.

Gunnison Gateway

Families looking for less-expensive lodging during the ski season or for an easy excursion from Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, check out Gunnison, home of Western State College.

Gunnison Valley RTA buses run several routes a day between Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte for only $2 per ride.  Enjoy a day at the Gunnison Recreation Center’s entire facility for only $4 for kids ages 5 – 17 and $6 for adults; kids under 5 are free.  There is an indoor pool with slides, rock climbing wall, gym, gymnastics room and game room.

You are never too old or young to learn how to ice skate.  The City of Gunnison Ice Facility at Jorgensen Park features three sheets of ice: an indoor NHL-size rink, outdoor Olympic-size covered rink, and outdoor frozen pond.  The admission cost for the indoor rink is $3 for ages 18 and older, $2 for ages 5 – 17, and free for kids under 5.  Skate rentals are $3 per pair.  There is no cost to use the outdoor rink and pond.  Check for public skate times at both rinks; the pond is dedicated to open skating. For the Rec Center and ice skating facilities, go to www.cityofgunnison-co.gov.

There is outstanding Nordic skiing and snowshoeing along backcountry routes and groomed trails at Hartman Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area west of Gunnison.  This combined with VanTuyl Ranch, the Western State College practice field on campus and Jorgensen Park encompasses approximately 45K of trails groomed by the Gunnison Nordic Club.  Rent equipment at Gene Taylor’s Sporting Goods or All Sports Replay.

While downtown, don’t miss stopping by the Gunnison Arts Center. Younger kids also will request a stop at Circus Train while teens enjoy dining at Mario’s Pizza & Ristorante.  Don’t miss sweet treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Gunnison and Crested Butte.

Wallet-Friendly Family Vacations & Deals

When traveling by air to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) on United, Continental and American between December 16, 2010 and April 3, 2011, take advantage of Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Friends and Family Fly Free deal.  Buy two airline tickets and get the third free when staying in CBMR’s lodging properties for at least four nights. The maximum number of free tickets per itinerary is three (for a booking of nine tickets), and the maximum travel credit is $400 per free airline ticket.  There are no blackout dates, but the offer is based on availability and can end at any time. This deal cannot be combined with any other offers and is valid only on new reservations.

From Jan. 5 – Feb. 16 and Feb. 27 – March 10, 2011, Kids Fly Free on American Airlines when flying with a parent to GUC.  The child must be age 12 or under, and his or her birthday is required in order to confirm the reservation. The adult purchasing the full-fare airline ticket is responsible for all taxes, fees and charges for the child’s airline ticket. This offer is subject to availability, and all travel (inbound or outbound) must be completed on or by March 10, 2011.  Inbound travel from origin to Gunnison must commence between Sundays – Wednesdays; outbound travel from Gunnison to origin must commence between Mondays – Fridays.  The minimum length of stay is two nights, and the maximum length of stay is 30 nights. Other restrictions may apply.  For both Fly Free deals visit www.skicb.com and call Crested Butte Vacations to book at (800) 810-7669.

Black Tie Ski Rentals of Crested Butte not only comes to where you are staying and custom fits equipment and picks it up when you are done, they are offering a Kids Rent Free special.  With every paying adult (minimum two-day rental), one child age 12 and under rents for free.  This deal is subject to availability.  Call (970) 349-0722 or (888) 349-0722 or visit www.blacktieskis.com.

Vacation Packages & Visitor Information

To find out more, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association’s toll-free number (800) 814-8893 or visit www.GunnisonCrestedButte.com.  Find the Tourism Association on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gcbtaor follow on www.twitter.com/gcbta.  The Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport in Gunnison is served year-round by United Airlines and during the winter season by American Airlines and Continental Airlines.

About Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado

Gunnison-Crested Butte is nestled among almost two million acres of pristine wilderness in southwest Colorado.  Winter sports enthusiasts know the area for its world-class alpine skiing and snowboarding at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing.  Gunnison-Crested Butte is also a haven for outdoor summer activities.  In the warmer months, visitors can choose from recreational activities such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, camping and horseback riding.  Year-round visitors enjoy distinctive restaurants, unique shops and stimulating cultural opportunities, and have a wide range of lodging options — from rustic inns to guest cabins and bed-and-breakfasts to full-service resort hotels.

Gunnison, county seat and a real western town, is home to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport, Gunnison Whitewater Park, Gunnison Valley Observatory, Pioneer Museum and Western State College, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional fields.  Both Crested Butte and Gunnison have thriving historic central business districts packed with shopping and dining opportunities.

Recognized as the “Official Wildflower Capital of Colorado” by the Colorado Legislature and one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” in 2008, Crested Butte is 28 miles from Gunnison and the site of rich mining, ranching and skiing heritage and home to the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.  Only three miles up the road is the resort village of Mt. Crested Butte, home to the ski area, an active base area, the area’s conference center, and outstanding hiking and biking trails.  Marbleis located in the Upper Crystal River Valley along the Elk Mountains and is the gateway to nearby Crystal, home to one of the most photographed mill sites in the country.Marble has seven sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is the location of the Yule Marble Quarry.

In Gunnison County, visitors will find the Curecanti National Recreation Area, where dinosaur fossils were recently discovered; the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water and home to the largest Kokanee salmon fishery in the United States; and The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, one of our country’s newest national parks.  Gunnison County includes the quaint and historic towns of Pitkin, Gothic, Tin Cup, Marble, Powderhorn, Almont and Crystal, plus the better-known communities of Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.  Gunnison County is part of the West Elk Loop and Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byways.

For more Colorado and ski destination features, www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

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