When Henry was a five-month-old baby we started a summer tradition of spending a week in Crested Butte, one of the most beautiful mountain towns in the world that also happens to be a 4-hour drive from our home in Boulder. Crested Butte also happens to be a mountain biking mecca and a wildflower one, and we love both. Especially the mountain biking part. I got my first mountain bike when I was 16 and haven’t looked back. We just got back from eight days there. Here’s a recap:
Long before kids, Jeff and I fell squarely into the camping set. But with diapers, nap times, and a desire to make things as easy as possible, we quickly embraced renting a house. This lets us cook as many meals as we want at home, have a yard, and, frankly, relax with two little ones.
This summer we returned to this rental on VRBO, which is owned by a Boulder couple. It’s located a few blocks off Elk Avenue on a quiet part of town, almost abuts the skate park, which our kids love, and is terrifically cozy and down to earth. It cost us $1,600 for seven nights, which, in our experience, is on the low end for houses in July in CB.
The grocery store in CB is busy and often the shelves are empty of the thing you wanted. We planned a menu ahead of time (and by that, I mean Jeff planned a menu), and we brought almost all of our own food. We ate every meal but one (pizza lunch) in because with a four-year-old and a two-year-old, restaurant eating is a tad chaotic and not the best value, since our kids don’t finish their food.
My two boys LOVE the skateboard park. Love it.
They love running around inside of it when the big kids aren’t there, and they love watching the big kids do tricks.
When we weren’t riding bikes or the strider, we walked downtown, took a hike, or played in our house’s back yard. We also took the free shuttle to the resort and played on the outdoor music mosaic and the treehouse there. And, we found many a stream in which to practice skipping rocks.
No doubt you’ve heard about Camp 4 Coffee. It’s great. We love it. Henry has early memories of eating “muffin cakes” there.
This trip we discovered a new and VERY family friendly (though not wallet friendly) coffee shop: First Ascent. It’s located on west Elk Ave., where the Secret Stash used to be. Upstairs is a loft area with chairs, a couch, and lots of kid toys. The coffee was unreal (even if it cost $3/cup) and the baked goods could start a revolution. I highly recommend the Hungry Bunny muffin.
My favorite single track in Crested Butte is up Cement Creek: Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman. This burly 20-plus miler takes you deep in the backcountry, punishes you with grueling climbs, and rewards you with miles of smooth descent.
I also love the 401, which I rode on a rainy Friday with girlfriends. The best thing about the riding in CB is that even the short town rides that take an hour or two are AMAZING. This is important to remember if you and your spouse are planning on trading off kid-care/adrenaline junkie time.
Last year we dropped the kids off at Stepping Stone, which came highly recommended and required advanced reservations. Henry loved it. They loved Henry. Silas hated it and cried the entire time. They asked us not to bring Silas back. This summer we didn’t bother with daycare. Soon enough the kids will be able to ride with us (maybe), and we don’t mind riding alone while the other one is on kid duty.
The Elk Mountains, which surround Crested Butte, rise jagged and sharp, and they circle the area in flanks. You are SO in the mountains here. You’re in them via several big passes, locked in at the end of the road. It’s gorgeous. And the wildflowers are riotous. The town is friendly (favorite boutique: Milky Way for terrific clothes and keepsakes). People ride bikes everywhere. People smile. People give your dog free biscuits. And there are terrific playgrounds all over the place.