Crested Butte isn’t exactly easy to get to, but there a number of ways to find your way to the mountain. Of course, the usual methods are obvious options – driving or flying. For some, driving may seem like an unrealistic option due to the distance, but it has a few advantages:
1. Packing (see my post on what to pack)
2. Acclimation to the elevation
3. No rental car expenses
4. Traveling companions – take your dog! They love ’em in CB.
Now, if you just don’t have any interest in driving due to the time involved or you just aren’t into the road trip thing, you have a few options if you want to fly: land in Denver, Colorado Springs, Montrose or Gunnison, rent a car and drive into Crested Butte. Gunnison is the closest airport to CB, but you can only fly into Gunnison direct from Denver and Houston during the summer months. The drive from Gunnison to CB is about 35 minutes and shuttles are available to take you from the airport to CB, but you should book a shuttle in advance. As far as driving from the other locations, here are the average driving times:
Montrose to CB – 1 hr 48min
Colorado Springs to CB – 3hr 45min
Denver to CB – 4hr 15min
Another option that I love is to fly or drive into Santa Fe, NM, then head up to CB the next day, which takes about 5 hours. The beauty of this option is that not only do you have an opportunity to acclimate to the altitude, but you get to spend a bit of time in Santa Fe. Even if it’s only a night, I always make sure to get my fix of New Mexican food – you can’t get it anywhere else like this! (Anyway, that’s for another blog post . . .)
Pick your method of travel as suits your needs and desires, but my advice if it’s your first time to this kind of elevation or if your aren’t in your fittest condition – either fly into a surrounding town (not Gunnison) and drive in from there or even consider driving the entire way and spend the night along the way. Altitude sickness is no joke and can ruin your trip if you don’t take it seriously. Allowing yourself to acclimate by breaking up the trip will help a great deal in reducing your chances of having it wreck your vacation.