The Town of Crested Butte is a Home Rule Municipality located in Gunnison County, Colorado, United States. The town population was 1,487 at the 2010 United States Census. The former coal mining town is now called "the last great Colorado ski town". Crested Butte is a destination for skiing, mountain biking, and a variety of other outdoor activities. The Colorado General Assembly has designated Crested Butte the Wildflower Capital of Colorado.


The East River Valley where Crested Butte is located was once used as a summer residence by the Ute people. However, they were quickly displaced when European-Americans first entered the area. The first white people to explore the valley were beaver trappers, shortly followed by surveyors. Captain John Gunnison, after whom Gunnison County is named, was one of the early explorers to enter the area. In the 1860s and 1870s coal and silver mines began to open in the surrounding area, and many little mining towns formed. However, when silver mining began to decline, many of these towns failed. Crested Butte, however, was in a better position to survive because it served as a supply town to the surrounding area. Another industry that served to support Crested Butte was ranching. When the coal mines closed, the town began to shrink, and eventually the local high school was closed. Students had to travel to Gunnison to go to high school. The town did not revive until a ski area was built on Crested Butte Mountain in the 1960s. From the 1960s to 1990, the Crested Butte public school only facilitated K-5 students, while 6th grade and higher attended school in Gunnison. In 1990 Crested Butte offered middle school in the railroad depot building. In 1992 a new middle school was completed which allowed the public school to facilitate grades K through 8. Finally in 1997, a new facility for the Crested Butte Community School was completed. This included the addition of a public high school so that the school now serves students in grades K-12. In 1993 the Crested Butte Academy opened in Crested Butte, bringing a private high school into town. However, on 9 July 2008, the academy was closed permanently due to financial difficulties that had plagued its entire existence. Since the 1970s, several companies have attempted to mine molybdenum on Mount Emmons (called the "Red Lady") near Crested Butte. In 1977 W Mitchell was elected mayor of Crested Butte and led a campaign which stopped AMAX (now Freeport-McMoRan) from building a billion-dollar molybdenum mine on Mount Emmons. Because of his battle against the anticipated environmental impact, Mitchell is known as the man who "saved a mountain". The same year, 1977, saw the formation of the High Country Citizens' Alliance (HCCA), an environmental organization dedicated to protecting natural resources within the Upper Gunnison River Valley. Currently the rights for Mount Emmons molybdenum are owned by U.S. Energy Corp. On 25 April 2011, Thomson Creek Metals announced that it had terminated its option agreement with U.S. Energy Corp. to acquire an interest in the Mount Emmons molybdenum project. Although US Energy continued to maintain its commitment to moving the project forward on its own behalf, the withdrawal of Thomson Creek Metals was heralded as a major victory in the town of Crested Butte in its battle against the proposed molybdenum mine.



The primary winter activity in Crested Butte is skiing or snowboarding at nearby Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Mount Crested Butte. Backcountry skiing in the surrounding mountains is some of the best in Colorado. The mountain, Crested Butte, rises to above sea level. The ski area base is at . 14 lifts serve of terrain. of the terrain are double black diamond runs. The large amount of extreme skiing terrain at Crested Butte has attracted the US Extreme Skiing Championships and the X Games. The longest run on Mount Crested Butte is . The town of Crested Butte itself has a Nordic Center which has an ice skating rink as well as many miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails.


Crested Butte is one of the locations that claims to have created the sport of mountain biking. The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame used to be located in Crested Butte before moving to Fairfax, California, in 2014. Other popular summer activities in Crested Butte include hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and kayaking, four wheeling, disc golf, and fishing. Crested Butte is known as the wildflower capital of Colorado.


Crested Butte hosts a number of unique festivals and parades throughout the year. These include Torchlight, New Years, Winter Carnival, Butte Bash College Ski Week and Mardi Gras during the winter months; Extreme Board Fest, Slushuck and Flauschink during spring; th
Crested Butte Bike WeekCrested Butte Music FestivalCrested Butte International Film Festival
4th of July, the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Alpenglow Concert Series, Festival of the Arts and Ball Bash during summer; and Fall Fest, Vinotok Carla Davidson
"Secret Season: Colorado before the Snow Flies," ''American Heritage'', Aug./Sept. 2006.
and Paragon Peoples' Fair during fall.


Crested Butte is located in north-central Gunnison County on the west side of the valley of the Slate River, along Coal Creek. Colorado State Highway 135 runs south from Crested Butte to Gunnison, the county seat. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town of Crested Butte has a total area of , all of it land. Crested Butte lies at an elevation of above sea level. Crested Butte is served by the Gunnison–Crested Butte Regional Airport in Gunnison.


Climate type is dominated by the winter season, a long, bitterly cold period with short, clear days, relatively little precipitation in the form of rain, but massive amounts in the form of snow, and low humidity. The Köppen Climate Classification sub-type for this climate is ''Dfc'' (Continental Subarctic Climate).


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,529 people, 692 households, and 253 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,183.1 people per square mile (843.4/km). There were 930 housing units at an average density of 1,327.9 per square mile (513.0/km). The racial makeup of the town was 97.19% White, 0.26% African American, 0.92% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 0.46% from two or more races. 2.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 692 households, out of which 19.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.9% were married couples living together, 5.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 63.3% were non-families. 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 1.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.69. In the town, the population was spread out, with 13.5% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 55.6% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 1.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 124.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 131.9 males. The median income for a household in the town was $41,250, and the median income for a family was $49,118. Males had a median income of $27,386 versus $23,073 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,789. 11.4% of the population and 2.7% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 3.5% of those under the age of 18 and 0.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

In popular culture

Crested Butte has been the site for several films including ''Snowball Express'' (1972), ''Snowbeast'' (1977), ''The Further Adventures of the Wilderness Family'' (1978), and ''Ink'' (2009). James Cameron's film ''Avatar'' (2009) has similarities with Crested Butte in regard to both mining issues and environmental coexistence. Both the film's protagonist and the former mayor W Mitchell, who led the fight against a proposed molybdenum mine on Mount Emmons in the late 1970s, uses a wheelchair.

See also

*Outline of Colorado **Index of Colorado-related articles *State of Colorado **Colorado cities and towns ***Colorado municipalities **Colorado counties ***Gunnison County, Colorado *Crested Butte *Crested Butte Film Festival *Crested Butte Mountain Resort *National Register of Historic Places listings in Gunnison County, Colorado *West Elk Mountains


External links

Town of Crested Butte official website

Gunnison – Crested Butte
tourism site
''Crested Butte News''

Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte Film Festival

Crested Butte Photos
at Western Mining History
Crested Butte Mountain Theatre

Crested Butte Music Festival

Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association
trail site {{authority control Category:Towns in Gunnison County, Colorado Category:Historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Colorado Category:Towns in Colorado Category:National Register of Historic Places in Gunnison County, Colorado