If you follow me on social media, then you know that I recently spent some time in Colorado.
I moved around a lot as a kid but am lucky that Colorado was a place where I spent one of the longest amounts of time. I love the mountains and the fresh air, the snow and skiing in the winter, but my favorite time to visit is the summer when the wildflowers are out, the sky is deep blue, the mountains are green and snow capped, and daily temperatures hit a perfect, no-humidity 84 degrees.
The town in Colorado dearest to my heart is Crested Butte because not only is it one of the most beautiful and pristine places I’ve ever seen, but also because my husband Jack’s family is from there. My daughter's great-great grandfather drove a mule train with his three brothers from Missouri in the 1880’s and settled the valley between Crested Butte and Gunnison. His property, Spann Ranch, remains to this day a government-protected historical monument and working ranch. From this journey in the 1880’s three generations continued to live and prosper in the area until my husband’s father left to fight in the Vietnam War in 1968. It’s important for us to bring our children to this town and show them where their roots are, and to have a vacation in a gorgeous location!
(Photo by Kenzie Perkins, 91 Perks Photography)
My favorite spot in the area is Emerald Lake on Gothic Mountain, the site of an old mining town. The glacial blue of the water against the mountains is stunning, and there are wildflowers EVERYWHERE. This was my dream wedding destination until we realized the logistics of getting everyone to its remote location! The road to the lake rises almost four thousand feet, and is only accessible in the summer months. Thus, I think late July or early August is the best time to visit the area since all the roads are usually clear and the wildflowers are at their peak.
All of the buildings in the old town of Crested Butte are Victorian in style and painted various colors. Some of the oldest and best examples line the main street of Elk Avenue. It’s worth hanging out on this street for a day. There are cute shops and restaurants, including our favorite bar The Wooden Nickel--it looks like a scene straight out of the old west with its old intricately carved bar and dark wood paneling. The street is also lined with some of the most beautiful hanging flower baskets you’ve ever seen.
Last but not least, no guide to the area would be complete without mentioning the main activity CB is known for--mountain biking. Crested Butte has over 750 miles of bike trails. Let that sink in a little. That distance is almost equal to one third of the distance across the U.S. That’s an insane amount of bike trails. Coming from lower elevations to almost 9,000 feet can make ascending trails that locals engage almost impossible during a week long vacation. Fortunately, there are options. The first is Lupine Trail. Aptly named, it is covered in blue flowers, has relatively few climbs, and is easily accessible from downtown. If you want thrills and a great downhill ride, visit the Evolution Park at the base of Crested Butte Mountain where you can ride the chair lift up and traverse the ski runs to the bottom. If you don’t have experience biking, hang out at the bar. This is not easy to jump into!