An Expert’s Mega Epic Guide to Crested Butte in Summer

From stunning wildflower displays to some of Colorado’s most epic single track, there’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to visiting Crested Butte in summer.

Sure, you can ski in the winter months in this classic Colorado mountain locale, but Crested Butte’s summer activities are not to be missed. With more access to the mountains and brilliant summer scenes, you’ll want to check out Crested Butte in the warmer months.

As a Colorado local of over 13 years, I’m an absolute expert when it comes to visiting Crested Butte, Colorado in the summer. In fact, I make a pilgrimage here each year to explore a new area. So if you’re looking to explore Colorado like a local, not a tourist, then you’re in the right place.

About this Guide to Crested Butte in Summer

Inside this local guide to Crested Butte in summer you’ll find expert advice about:

  • How to get to Crested Butte
  • How long to spend in Crested Butte in the summer
  • Weather info
  • Festivals and events in Crested Butte
  • Summer activities in Crested Butte
  • Nearby attractions
  • Additional Colorado travel resources

Where is Crested Butte?

You’ll find Crested Butte snuggled along the Western Slope, just south of Aspen and north of Gunnison. As one of the top weekend getaways from Denver, it’s about a 4.5-hour drive from the Mile High City.

Other nearby towns include Gunnison, Grand Junction, and Durango.

Is Crested Butte Worth Visiting in Summer?

It’s no secret that Crested Butte is one of the prettiest places in Colorado, but thanks to being a bit further away, it doesn’t get nearly as many crowds as you’d see in Breckenridge or Vail.

However, the town is exceptionally charming, the scenery is spectacular, and Crested Butte is absolutely worth visiting in summer.
With two full days in Crested Butte in summer, you can enjoy several different activities from hiking and biking to strolling along the main street. For the average person, a long weekend is the perfect amount of time. But if you like to travel a little slower, and want to see more of the surrounding areas, plan for at least 4 days.

What’s the Weather Like in Crested Butte in Summer?

The weather in Crested Butte in summer is pretty much perfect, with average highs in the 70s. Sunshine is plentiful but always be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms, a hallmark of summers in Colorado.

The nights in Crested Butte in summer can get a little chilly, dipping into the high 30s, but that’s to be expected in a Colorado mountain town sitting at an elevation of 8,900 feet.

What is Crested Butte Known For?

When it comes to things to do in Colorado, outdoor activities top the list. And Crested Butte has plenty of outdoor adventures on offer.

Crested Butte is one of the top places to visit in Colorado for wildflower viewing. The verdant alpine valleys burst into a sea of colors from late June through July. This time of year is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the blooms. Hikes, mountain biking, backpacking, and scenic drives are great ways to experience the color displays.

Crested Butte is also well known for mountain biking. Every year high-altitude MTBers flock to Crested Butte to ride the many bike-friendly trails in the area. If you’re into single track, you’ll want to book some time near Crested Butte.

crested butte colorado in summer

Events in Crested Butte in Summer

Crested Butte, Colorado in summer is chock full of fun events and celebrations. No matter what you’re into, you’ll have fun with these Crested Butte summer activities.

The bikers who flock to Crested Butte in summer can check out the Chainless World Championships (June 24, 2022). This unique bike race consists of costumed riders heading downhill from Keebler pass to downtown – with no chains!

July brings a celebration of the wildflowers that explode in bloom all-around Crested Butte. The Wildflower Festival runs for 10 days (July 8-17, 2022) with over 200 workshops on subjects including pollination, painting, photography, culinary arts, and more. Of course, there are guided wildflower hikes as well.

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Crested Butte Arts Festival, running from Aug 5-7, 2022. And the Crested Butte Music Festival holds concerts all summer long.

Where to Stay

When the weather is warm enough in Crested Butte in summer, you can find awesome free camping at Kebler Pass or the nearby Hartman Rocks Recreation Area.

If you prefer a bed and a roof over your head, the charming Purple Mountain B&B is conveniently located right in town.

Where to Eat

The Last Steep is the perfect place to end an adventurous day in Crested Butte in summer. Chow down on some delicious and hearty food and chase it back with a pint at this quintessential mountain town bar & grill.

If you’re craving pizza, head to Secret Stash for super tasty and creative pies, or visit Bonez for yummy tacos, enchiladas, and margaritas.

Local tip: A lot of restaurants close or have limited hours in the spring off-season, so if you’re coming to Crested Butte in early summer, double-check that the spots you want to hit are open.

Things to Do in Crested Butte in Summer

Check out all these awesome Crested Butte summer activities! Trust me, this mountain town is full of summer adventures, no matter your favorite activity.

Shred the Brown Pow on a Mountain Bike

Crested Butte, Colorado in summer is a mountain biking mecca! With over 750 miles of single-track, you could spend all summer on the trails. Here are a few of the classics:

Lupine Trail

This beginner/intermediate trail is a great introduction to mountain biking in Crested Butte. Along with some easy climbs and fun features, you’ll get a cool view of Crested Butte and plenty of namesake lupine flowers along the ride.

Teocalli Trail

The Teocalli Trail challenges intermediate/advanced riders with a sustained road climb as well as a steep singletrack climb (you might be hiking your bike on this one), but once you make it to the top, you’ll reap the rewards. The summit offers stunning mountain views in the distance before you drop in for a seriously epic descent.

Trail 401

Advanced riders won’t find more fun than the sweet singletrack of Trail 401. This alpine trail will take you above treeline for incredible views of the Gothic Valley and Mount Crested Butte, and on the way down, you will find yourself practically enveloped by wildflowers.

summer activities in crested butte

Hit the Hiking Trails

Crested Butte in summer is the perfect base to hit the best wildflower hikes in Colorado.

  • Judd Falls Trail – This easy 2-mile out & back hike is the perfect way to explore a bit of Crested Butte. The trail is abundant with wildflowers and leads to a lovely waterfall.
  • Rustler Gulch – This moderate trail (about 8 miles round trip) might be the very best if you want to see a variety of wildflowers. You’ll also get nice views of the Maroon Bells, Mt. Bellevue, and Mt. Baldy.
  • Oh-Be-Joyful Trail – This challenging trail runs 14 miles round trip through a glacial valley along the Ruby Range and showcases plenty of wildflowers.

Take a Shortcut to the Summit of Mt. Crested Butte

If you want to summit the iconic Mt. Crested Butte that towers over the town, you can take a strenuous hike from the base – or take a shortcut on the Silver Queen chairlift!

A chairlift ride($20/person) cuts the hike from 10 miles round trip down to just 2, but you get the same jaw-dropping summit views.

Backpack from Crested Butte to Aspen

For one of the coolest backpacking trips in Colorado, hike from Crested Butte to Aspen. The hike over West Maroon Pass from mountain town to mountain town is about 11 miles, so if you camp along the way, it makes for a fantastic two-day backpacking trip.

It really doesn’t get any better than immersing yourself in the backcountry of the phenomenal landscape of the Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness.

Stop & Smell the Wildflowers

Crested Butte is actually known as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado. The gorgeous blooms typically peak in July and one of the best places to see them close to town is the Lupine Trail.

The Wildflower Festival in mid-July celebrates all forms of wildflower appreciation, from art to cooking.

Crested butte in summer

Stroll Down Elk Avenue

Elk Avenue is the main street in Crested Butte, and a stroll down the street is a good way to spend a summer afternoon getting to know the charms of this mountain town.

Local shops like Chopwood Mercantiles offer unique gifts and goods, and you can take a break and power up at Camp 4 Coffee or sample some mountain-made rum at Montanya Distillers. The Secret Stash is a not-to-miss pizza place (be sure to try the Notorious F-I-G).

Take a Scenic Drive

Home to some of the most popular fall drives in Colorado, Crested Butte’s nearby scenic drives are great for the summer months too.

Kebler Pass features Colorado’s largest aspen grove and makes for an excellent drive throughout the year. It’s also home to some of the best free camping in Colorado if you’re looking to pitch your tent.

The West Elk Loop is another one of the most scenic drives in Colorado. Located close to Crested Butte, this 205-mile, multi-day journey is an excellent addition to any Colorado road trip itinerary.

Not to mention, it passes through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, West Elk Pass, and intersects with Kebler Pass.

Soak in the Sunset

Seeing the setting sun over the Mount Crested Butte on a summer’s night is a real treat. For awesome views, check out the Snodgrass Mountain Trail or check out these hot spots (most require a hike, so pack a headlamp for the return journey).

  • Three Lakes Loop
  • Dyke to Dark Canyon Loop
  • Copper Lake
  • Paradise Divide

Visit a Ghost Town

Just north of Crested Butte, you’ll find one of Colorado’s most famous ghost towns – Gothic. Abandoned in 1941 after silver lost its value, the town no longer has any inhabitants.

Researchers have set up a base to study the effects of mining on the local environment – so there are a few summer residents, but otherwise, this eerie town looks just like it did back in the day.

Local Tip: You can drive to the town quite easily from Crested Butte, but for an added challenge bikers can use the 401 Trail to access this ghost town.

Things to Do Near Crested Butte

Crested Butte is home to a fabulous array of activities, but with plenty to check out nearby, you’ll want to scope out these nearby attractions:

Additional Local Colorado Travel Resources

Ready to explore Colorado like a local, not a tourist? Here’s a look at a few expert resources to make your trip one to remember:

Hi There!

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure. She'd rather be dirty than done up.