10 Scenic Places to See This Summer
Crested Butte has a vast range of scenic sites for you to explore this summer. Whether you’re looking for a long extended adventure that takes up a whole day, or a nice drive to do on your day off, Crested Butte has the goods. Here are just a few suggestions of places we love to explore in this beautiful valley we call home!
1. MT. CRESTED BUTTE SUMMIT
The famous Crested Butte Peak is often admired from town and from the lifts of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, but to summit the peak is a whole other endeavor. To summit the peak is a short, however quite steep climb and the views from the top are absolutely astonishing. It opens up an entirely new perspective on our little valley.
2. SCARP RIDGE
This is one of the best hikes for wildflowers during peak season, so grab your camera and get ready to see some vibrant colors! The best approach for Scarp Ridge is the Scarp Ridge Middle Loop. This is a moderate to strenuous hike topping out at 12,216 feet. Enjoy the breathtaking views as you make your way back down after a hard days work!
3. KEBLER PASS
Visiting Kebler Pass makes for a very nice day of hiking, biking, climbing, running or any other strenuous outdoor activity. The Kebler Pass area hosts one of the largest Aspen Groves in the country, possibly the largest in the world. You don’t even have to get out of your car to see the beauty that is Kebler Pass, but it is always more beautiful when you do step out. This is a good one for a nice afternoon picnic, you might even find some wild raspberries!
4. MONARCH CREST TRAIL
Notorious for one of the best mountain biking trails in the Gunnison/Crested Butte area, the Monarch Crest Trail climbs up to just under 12,000 feet and rides along the Continental Divide Trail for several miles. The Crest Trail has some incredible views throughout the entire 35 miles, not to mention some incredible mountain biking! Although the trail profile appears to be mostly downhill, don’t let it fool you, the Crest Trail has at least 2-3 hours of climbing, depending on how hard you ride.
5. THE 403 TRAIL
Starting off of Washington Gulch Road, Trail 403 rides or hikes for 4 miles before heading down into Gothic Valley. Trail 403 has great views of the Crested Butte Valley, with a nice image of Mt. Crested Butte right in front of you. Combine this trail with Snodgrass plus Trail 401 for an even more epic day!
6. RUBY RANGE
The Ruby Range consists of eight peaks: Mount Owen, Purple Peak, Afley Peak, Hancock Peak, Richmond Mountain, August Mountain, Purple Mountain and Treasury Mountain. This southwestern extension of the main mass of the Elk Mountains is sure to leave you in awe. Weeks could be spent exploring this area!
7. DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL
Another great visit for your off day is Devil’s Punchbowl and the Devil’s Punchbowl pools. From Crested Butte, drive up Schofield Pass. When you reach the top of the pass keep going along road 317 until you come to a couple metal bridges. The pools offer some fun swimming and cliff jumping, plus the Devil’s Punchbowl road offers some great 4-wheeing. The road is narrow, though, so be carefully when there is another car coming your way!
8. TEOCALLI RIDGE LOOP
Teocalli Ridge Loop starts about 8 miles east of Crested Butte at the intersection of Pearl Pass Rd and West Brush Creek Rd (738.2A). You can either park your car here and start riding or hiking (the preferred method if you are doing the full loop), or you can keep driving up West Brush Creek Rd until you reach the Teocalli Mountain Trail. The climb is steep and hard, but once you see the views at the top it will all be worth it. Take a moment to take in the awesome scenery looking over Pearl Pass Rd before you begin the super fun descent back to the car!
9. PEARL PASS
Once you’ve seen the beautiful lookout over Pearl Pass from the Teocalli Ridge Loop, take your adventuring to the next level and make your way to the top of Pearl Pass! If you travel to the top of the pass at the right time of year, the steep hillsides will be painted with colorful wildflowers for you to admire. The top of the pass can hold snow well in to July, and sometimes can stick around all year, so plan accordingly!
10. BLUE LAKE
Accessed via Oh-Be-Joyful valley, Blue Lake sits at 11,075 feet and is one of the most beautiful and scenic high alpine lakes in the Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley. Hike along the mild Oh-Be-Joyful valley and then stay to the left along the Ruby Range. Blue Lake seems to appear out of nowhere as you ascend the steeper 800 vertical feet to this scenic lake. Enjoy the clear blue water and high mountain peaks overlooking the vast valley below!
- Ellen Patten