3 Amazing Side Trips to Take from Crested Butte, CO
Being that Crested Butte, CO is tucked far away in the mountains, those that live in or travel to Crested Butte no doubt have an adventurous spirit. While there are plenty of activities to fill your days in Crested Butte, some might want to venture out and explore more of the state. Below are a few overnight trips that you can take from Crested Butte. All of these are 2.5 hours or less in driving time and make for great side trips while calling Crested Butte your home base.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Hooper Hot Springs
The sand dunes in Sand Dunes National Park are the largest in North America. It’s about a 2.5-hour drive from Crested Butte and definitely worth the time. The dunes are massive and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains make for a dramatic backdrop. If you visit in the spring or early summer months, Medano Creek will be flowing through the sand. Children enjoying cruising on the “surge flow” waves (FYI – due to drought conditions, there is no flow expected for 2018).
Rent a sandboard from the local convenience store outside the park to slide down the dunes or just hike the dunes for a unique experience.
Once finished at the park, spend some time at the Sand Dunes Hot Springs Pool in Hooper. It’s about a half hour drive from the dunes. The pool has diving boards, a kiddie slide, basketball hoop, etc. Eat at the concession stand. It’s surprisingly good!
If you’re feeling adventurous, visit the Alligator Farm on your way to or from the dunes. I don’t think you’ll see many things like it…
About a two-hour drive from Crested Butte is the quaint little town of Ouray. It’s coined “The Switzerland of America,” and you’ll understand why once you drive into the valley. The large public hot springs pool recently underwent a renovation and boasts swimming lanes and water slides during the summer months. A few of the hotels also have their own hot springs pools. One of my favorites is the Twin Peaks Lodge as it has a pool for the kids and reasonably priced.
There are a couple of waterfalls easily accessible from town, or you can see them all during the 4.5-mile perimeter hike that goes around town. Ouray is known for its dirt roads through the mountains and hosts an annual Jeep Jamboree.
Buena Vista and Princeton Hot Springs
Buena Vista sits in between the Arkansas River and the Collegiate Peaks (Mt. Princeton, Mt. Harvard, Mt. Yale…). Climb one of the several fourteeners in this mountain range for some bragging rights and then visit my friends at River Runners for a whitewater rafting trip you’re sure to never forget. Check out the South Main area downtown for restaurants, concerts, accommodations, and the whitewater park. Buena Vista Adventure Hub can help you book ATV trips, SUP outings and other many activites.
After all that adventure, check out Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. You can simply stop by for a day visit or stay in their accommodations for the night (but book early). There is a 400-foot water slide open during the summer months that is always a hit with the kids.
If you’re up for more travel, you can always visit places like Durango, The Royal Gorge, and Glenwood Springs, but these are a few of my favorite quick trips. Safe travels!