Crested Butte, Colorado at Twilight

Winter Getaway in Crested Butte, Colorado

Over the last couple of years, all of our traveling was squeezed into the summer months. This year we decided to take a short trip during spring break to Crested Butte, Colorado. We had purchased a couple pairs of snowshoes earlier in the year and were looking forward to testing them out on some deeper snow!

The Area
Crested Butte is located about 4.5 hours southwest of Denver. The drive between Denver and Crested Butte is very scenic. During inclement weather, the most difficult section would probably be over Monarch Pass in between Salida and Gunnison. It was snowing through there on our drive home.


We stayed in the Alpenglow Cabin at Pioneer Guest Cabins about 10-15 minutes south of Crested Butte. They have several cabins nestled along the mountainside. The cabin was clean, cozy and in a quiet area. There are trails accessible right from the cabin. One of the days we went snowshoeing on a trail following Cement Creek. If you don’t have your own snowshoes or skis, Pioneer Guest Cabins offers rentals.


The Alpenglow cabin at Pioneer Guest Cabins


The rustic cabin interior

Snowshoeing Gothic Road
For our first full day in Crested Butte, we went snowshoeing along Gothic Road with my sister and her boyfriend. I had a hefty cold that day so I wasn’t able to go very far, but we still had a lot of fun. The weather was so nice that we were able to snowshoe in t-shirts! We stopped a couple of times along the way to rest and take in the views. The trail continues beyond our stopping point to the ghost town of Gothic.


Beginning our snowshoeing for the day at the Gothic Road winter trailhead


Panoramic views of the mountains to the north along the edge of the Snowmass Wilderness


Taking a break in the snow and along came this friendly dog


Snowshoeing along the Gothic Road trail

On one of the stops, Jess and I stayed behind to relax. Jess started looking for places to explore. Jumping into the snow seemed like harmless fun. The first jump got him wedged halfway into a snow drift…so why not try again..but this time let’s get the GoPro out. On his second attempt, he went so far down into the snow that it was above his head! He was stuck. I rescued him from the snow by digging him out. It could have been a lot worse, never doing that again. BUT, we have footage (see below).


Jess’ first attempt at jumping into the snow and he wedged himself halfway deep.


So why not shoot the next jump with the GoPro…and end up engulfed in the snow? Not recommended kids.

GoPro footage of the 2nd attempt


Exploring the Area
We got out over the next few days to take some shots near town. Most of the side roads outside of town are not maintained in the winter and are closed. We went out to Nicholson Lake along Slate River Road (FR #734). The Slate River Road winter trailhead begins just beyond Nicholson Lake. Washington Gulch Road (FR #811) didn’t have much for photo opportunities. It ended at a winter trailhead just passed a residential area. Gothic Road (FR #317) ends at a winter trailhead (where we went snowshoeing) on the north side of the ski village of Mt Crested Butte. Kebler Pass Road ends at a winter trailhead with no grand views, however, during snowfall there would be some nice opportunities for photos of the trees along the mountainside. Brush Creek Road (CR #738) had wide views to the south and southwest, very low traffic and gave us a couple spots to set up for sunset photos.

The Crested Butte, Pearl Pass National Geographic Map #131 came in handy for areas around town to the east. For more information on areas to the west of town, the Kebler Pass, Paonia Reservoir map #133 would be helpful.

Winter Twilight at Nicholson Lake

Winter Twilight at Nicholson Lake
Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70mm
ISO-100, 24mm, f/8.0, 1/20sec

Stars over Nicholson Lake

Stars over Nicholson Lake
Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 14mm
ISO-5000, 14mm, f/2.8, 25.0sec

While in Crested Butte, we wanted to try to get a nice shot from above the town. We explored a few different roads and found two spots to try. One of them is along the road in between Crested Butte and Mt Crested Butte. The other is high up in Mt Crested Butte. We also stopped along the road into Mt Crested Butte to get a shot of the ski village.

Crested Butte, Colorado at Twilight

Crested Butte, Colorado at Twilight
Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70mm
ISO-640, 38mm, f/3.2, 25sec

Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado at Night Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70mm ISO-1000, 70mm, f/3.2, 10.0sec

Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado at Night
Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70mm
ISO-1000, 70mm, f/3.2, 10.0sec

We had barely seen a cloud in the sky until the last day or so of our trip. A weather system rolled in from all directions it seemed. We had one night where we tried to take sunset photos along Brush Creek Road. The clouds were filling in just as we were hearing about the amazing northern lights show that was potentially going to reach down near our home in Iowa and perhaps even further south. There was no hope for us to see it near Crested Butte though with all of the clouds. The next day was completely cloud covered.


Cute husky at Pioneer Guest Cabins

Sunset over Whetstone Mountain

Sunset over Whetstone Mountain
Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70mm
ISO-100, 40mm, f/8.0, 1/40sec

Slate River Bridge

Slate River Bridge in Crested Butte, Colorado
Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70mm
ISO-100, 44mm, f/8.0, 1/500sec

Clouds make for interesting time-lapses, so we spent the last day taking a few around town. We’ll release a short clip in the near future.


Finally got some nice clouds for time-lapses

Winter in Crested Butte, Colorado

Winter in Crested Butte, Colorado
Canon EOS 6D, Tamron 24-70mm
ISO-100, 24mm, f/8.0, 1/400sec

Good Eats
Lastly, we can’t forget the food. We enjoyed eating at a few different places in Crested Butte including The Last Steep, McGill’s, and Brick Oven Pizzeria & Pub. Our last food stop was the Third Bowl Homemade Ice Cream shop!


Delicious chicken sandwich with gluten-free bun at The Last Steep


The Denver Scromlette at McGill’s, yum!

We had a great time exploring the winter landscape around Crested Butte and are looking forward to future winter adventures!


Leave a Reply