Top Family Ski Resort: Crested Butte

crested butte family travel review

Crested Butte. Does it sound familiar? If you’ve been skiing for any length of time, you’ve likely heard the names associated with freestyle skiing and big double black drops. But the Crested Butte isn’t just for extreme skiers. It is very much for families too.

CB is basically family owned and operated. So the owners know what skiing clans want—a variety of terrain, luxe accommodations close to the mountain, great instruction and plenty of après ski activities tot keep the kids busy.

About 30 minutes from the Gunnison Airport, Crested Butte is a small resort with some big action. After visiting more than a dozen destination ski resorts over the years, Crested Butte just snagged the #1 spot on our list.

the lodge at mountaineer square

Expect a warm staff at the Lodge at Mountaineer Square. You won’t be disappointed with the lodging our roomy 2-bedroom unit overlooking the Red Lady Lift was spacious, clean and chic. Usually when you stay at a ski condo, the kitchen is functional at best, this one was made for families that like to cook. We picked up groceries at Gunnison City Market and whipped up quite a few hearty breakfasts and replenishing dinners.

Lodge features: Indoor parking, ski-in/ski-out access, indoor/outdoor heated pool, fitness center and a helpful concierge staff. The pool was a huge hit–check out the stunning views.

lodge at mountaineer square colorado

Where to eat: Breakfast at 9380 was a fantastic way to fuel up for a big day of skiing. I highly recommend the flax/cinnamon pancakes.

Lunch at Uley’s mid-mountain was a super way to power up mid-day. Take my advice and order the Elk Bourgounne and the rice pudding. Don’t miss the legendary bar made of ice. You can also hitch a sleigh ride there for dinner. You won’t go hungry with a meal like this one.

lunch at Uley's

Snacks & Cocktails–a double duty location is right in the lodge. I stopped into Sweet Spot for some candy treats for the kids. I was tempted by the ice cream bar, but simply put together a nice selection of candy. This spot has pool tables and a full-service bar for adults.

Off mountain, we went to Lil’s in Crested Butte’s town for sushi. The bartender, Caleb, whipped up a custom cocktail made from gin and cucumber. Even this NYC sushi snob found the rolls and sashimi yummy. And it’s so easy to get to town—you don’t even have to drive. There are free shuttles from Crested Butte’s lodging every 15 minutes that travel to town and back. www.lilssushibarandgrill.com/ 321 Elk Avenue

While the room was fantastic, the main action was on the slopes. CB has a base elevation of 9375 ft. and the summit is at 12,162. With a phenomenal mix of groomers, moguls, trees and back country, this is heaven for a skiing family.

If you’ve got kids you want to know about the ski school. I can’t say enough good things about Camp CB (trip planning note–the camp is open in the summer too!). This school is designed to build the next generation of ski lovers. The groups were small and led by totally enthusiastic instructors. On the first day, Adam had a group of two of “mini-riders”—my girl (5) and one other girl. Their abilities were well matched and my pint-sized skier made great progress.

camp CB crested butte

The older daughter (7) had a private class in the “Challengers” (age 7-14). She skis at level 7 or 8 and since there weren’t many kids of her ability they gave her a designated coach rather than holding her back with a larger group that had less experienced skiers. The second day of lessons a super young guy joined her. These two were all over the Mountain with Doug. Black Diamons o’plenty and she loved every minute of it. From what I’m told the food was fine (they were tight lipped which makes me think there was plenty of cocoa and cookies). The true test? Every morning they were racing to get their ski boots on to head to Camp CB.

There is also a Teen program and groups for 3 year olds, 4-6 year olds. The Mini Rider rates are pricey ($205) because they offer a ratio of no more than 1 instructor to 3 kids. All other lessons $150 per day. There is also a nursery for kids 2 months to 3 years. Call the nursery for rates 970.349.2258

Don’t worry about Mr. Momtrends and me. We skied like mad over the three days we were there. My favorite runs were over at the East River lift. Plenty of challenging blues and never a line in sight. For a bit of a challenge we took the Paradise Express and then the North Face lift to get to the harder stuff and fresher powder.

crested butte trail map

Bonus: Don’t miss the Adaptive Sports Center (www.adaptivesports.org) for Alpine, snowboard and Nordic instruction. It was amazing to see all the differently abled skiers whizzing down the slopes thanks to adaptations and knowledgeable coaches.

What else? Leave time to visit the Adventure Park. There’s rock climbing wall, tubing, mini golf and an air bag jump. Our favorite part of the park was the Bungee Trampolines.

bungee trampoline

Why will we come back? The vibe is so fantastic. The kids loved the instruction. The town of Crested Butte boasts 2,395 members. It’s small and that’s good. Zero traffic lights.

Getting there is tricky if you live in NYC. We talked to folks from Oklamhoma who drive 13+ hours to get here (yes, it’s that fun). We flew in from NYC via Denver, transferred at Gunnison and then drove 30 minutes to our lodge. Direct flights are available to Gunnison from Texas, California and Colorado. Don’t let a little travel planning scare you off. This is a ski destination worth the effort.

fooling around in CB

Plan your trip www.skicb.com

Momtrends was not paid for this post. With our travel posts we are provided travel fees as well as lodging to facilitate our reviews. Our travel reviews are never scripted and are solely the opinion of the writer. Ski carefully. Wear a helmet.

  • smattes

    My boys are now in their thirties. We started in CB when they were 8 & 6. We flew from Boston very Feb.school break. Each year, it was loved-something for all of us, and at an affordable price, even including airfare. One of the real appeals to me, one that continues for families is how kid/family-friendly it is, and how safe….no mobs to worry about kids getting lost in, no long , lines and a small town that knows everyone…all eyes are on everyone, and that bodes well for kid-safety. As the boys got oder, they loved the freedom of the shuttle bus, and I loved knowing they were safe in town. Now, it will be time to re-start the tradition for grandkids. And now that we are skiing challenged, we will be enjoying the fab summers festivals there…something for everyone, something for all ages.