How Can A Decade Change Crested Butte?

I wonder what people think, the first time they drive into the valley. When they first come around the bend at Red Mountain and the Paradise Divide opens up in front; Wheststone to the left and the mother rock on the right, lone and proud. Even Teocalli peaks its head out for a few moments farther down the road. Do people realize they have reached paradise?

The first time I drove into the valley of Crested Butte in June 2004, it was dark out and raining. I was ten, and the only thing I do remember was sliding out of the rental car for a late night dinner at Harry’s Fine Dining…. Welcome to Crested Butte! Eat at Harry’s! By October of that year I was the new 5th grader at the Crested Butte Community School. Shout out to local old timer Nettie Kapushion, my first teacher, and also Dakota Roark for cheating off my spelling test on my first day. That was when the school was half the size that it is now and the classes were two times as small.

Those were the days when people still called the Red Lady Lift the ‘Keystone Lift.’ When Pitas in Paradise was where The Sunflower is now and when there was still a T-Bar on Buckley. Things sure have changed over the past ten years. I’ve watched the Gothic Building go down and the Brick Oven building go up. I’ve seen people come and go, but most of all, I’ve seen how Crested Butte has prospered.


Keystone Lift and base area

Our first big national TV coverage was when Good Morning America came to CB to film a holiday special. It was a big deal. People packed onto Elk for the ‘lighting of the Christmas Tree’, feeling giddy and trying to get the attention of the camera man. Try as we might, I would say that since then it has been Jingles El GatoPerro who has stolen the limelight on television.

The 2007 – 2008 epic powder year took the ski world by storm, literally, with 418 inches of snowfall. It was the best winter of my life and I’m not the only one to say that. Our rankings went up in every ski magazine. In 2010, I became interested in politics, when the town council broke a tied election with a duel of “Ninja-Bear-Cowboy,” classic. The rest of the word called us crazy, the Huffington Post called it “embracing our Western Heritage.”


Winter 2007 - 2008 

When the USA Pro Challenge came to Crested Butte for the first time in 2011, people saw us from around the world. They got a kick out of our costumes and street paint and the cowboys on their horses, racing the bikers through the valley. Who would have guessed that last year we would be crowned the winners of Powder Magazines Ski Town Throwdown, as the number one ski town in North America? That is something we should all be proud of.

Crested Butte will continue to grow. We will continue to receive attention from the world. There is always a fear of change; that is to be expected, but change is something we should celebrate. No matter what happens, the mountains will never lose their shape. The stars will always be within reach of the peak. Where else can you ride the lift with Waldo or take a free bus painted with aliens? Paradise can be shared with everyone. The hippies and the ski bums. The hard core athletes, even the part time home owners. The rambunctious Western students, the old timers. And the new timers.


Paradise Divide

I graduated from CBCS in 2012, with a class of 28. Now, as a college student with a knack for traveling, I’m not home as much as I used to be, in fact I’ll be leaving this week. I’ll miss Crested Butte, but sometimes the best part about being away is coming back again. Every time I come back, I find that something has changed. I’m not worried, because I know that every time I return, when I pass Red Mountain and drive into the valley with the Paradise Divide opening like magic in front of me, I’m home. This is paradise and it’s not going anywhere.

Blogger: Skylar Kraatz


Mount Crested Butte

Cool picture of the Butte! 


Mount Crested Butte


Cool picture of the Butte! 

Throwback Thursday from CBMR


Can you guess what year this picture was taken?  

It was 50 years ago, 1964! The Silver Queen Gondola had been open for one year – and as the only Italian gondola in Colorado it was a pretty big deal. When it first opened in 1963, the gondola was blessed by a Catholic priest from Gunnison, Father Leo McKenna, who blessed it with holy water and said a prayer. Three eager skiers jumped in the first car, which lurched forward then came to a halt. The Silver Queen Gondola broke before the first car had even made it out of the terminal! A dejected Father McKenna left the scene only to slip on ice in the parking lot and fracture his kneecap. Needless to say, The Silver Queen Gondola was off to a rough start. Even after it was up and running, it was known to have frequent collisions when the wind picked up.

 53 years have passed since Crested Butte Mountain Resort opened in 1961, and no doubt a lot has changed since then!  The infamous Silver Queen Gondola has since been replaced by a high speed quad and runs smoothly, but if you feel like taking a ride into the past, check out our old school double seaters: Twister Lift, built in 1969, or the Teocalli lift, from 1979. In honor of TBT, here are some more awesome photos of CBMR over the years.


Crested Butte Mountain Resort Base Area, 1960’s


Looks pretty 80’s, right?


Powder Skiing in 1968


Warming House Hill in the ‘80’s.


Base Area in 1961. Can you spot the T-Bar? 

Come see what Crested Butte Mountain Resort looks like today, go to for details.

Blogger: Skylar Kraatz

Our Top 15 Summer Instagram Photos (So Far)

Slowly, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. We are already half way through August! Where oh where did the time go? But don’t let go of that sunny state of mind quite yet – check out our top 15 Instagram photos of this summer (so far!)


June 22: #officialsummer, more sunshine! This little #wildflower is going to use the longer days to grow. How are you going to use your longer days? Photo: @chris_segal

Likes: 464 

The melting snow gave way to purple lupine on the first official day of summer this year, a preview of an awesome summer to come!

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June 24: This guy’s helping us break in the new #DH trail #bike #downhill #deer #buck #antlers Photo: @chris_segal

Likes: 464 

As our team cleared the way for Captain Jack, our newest bike train in the Evolution Bike Park, they met some unlikely friends along the way. There is still have a chance to see some amazing wildlife while riding on Mt. CB! Check out for all things biking.

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August 3: #northmaroon peak from the #trail401 climb #bike #mtb #cbcolors #views #maroonbells Photo: @chris_segal

Likes: 467 

This is Colorado summer at its best! The iconic 401 bike trail brings riders through the wildflowers and past amazing views – North Maroon Peak of the Maroon Bells!

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June 8: Snow in June means more wildflowers in July, right?!? #guaranteed

Likes: 469 

A little snow in June never hurt anyone. The ‘Mother Rock’ was still looking frosty as we kicked off summer. We are hoping for another great snow year – they come in twos, right?

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June 17: With #love from #crestedbutte

Likes: 486 

We are literally living in a post card! Our valley was glowing on the evening of June 17th, with Paradise Divide splitting the horizon for a classic mountain sunset!

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July 18: An afternoon stroll by Gothic sure makes for a happy Friday!

Likes: 490

The iconic rock walls of Gothic Mountain still had snow on July 18th!

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June 7: #blooming in the #butte! The season’s snow was plentiful and sweet; the wise have said, ‘#beautiful winter showers bring beautiful #wildflowers.’

Likes: 493

Throwback to when Teocalli was still covered! The snow has since melted, giving way to some rad trails! The Teocalli Ridge trail reopened this spring, so don’t miss out on those amazing views!

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July 18: #PeakPhotoFriday The view from Gothic back down valley. #sunset #colorado Thanks to Mikey Curran for the rad shot!

Likes: 506

Shout out to Mikey Curran, from up in the town of Gothic, home to those crazy RMBL-ers (Rocky Mountain Biological Lab) for submitting this photo! With over 500 likes, it makes the cut for our Instagram Hall of Fame.

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July 25: #peakphotofriday: this #AWESOME image of #lightning over #crestedbuttemountain was captured by @lsternmedia #purpleskys #ominous #spooky

Likes: 538 

We love playing in the sun, but this is cool too. Monsoon season always brings with it some insane rain storms! Just remember to get off the peak when the sky turns purple!

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July 8: Still slightly gracing us with her presence, thanks Miss Rainbow. #crestedbutte #cbcolors #rainbow

Likes: 539

It looks like Elk Avenue is the treasure at the end of the rainbow! Classic summer evening in Crested Butte.

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June 8: Today is the first day for the #CrestedButte #farmersmarket! See you on #ElkAve in downtown #CB Photo: @chris_segal

Likes: 541

There is nothing better than our historical main street to remind us of our mining days. “The Old West is not a certain place in a certain time, it’s a state of mind. It’s whatever you want it to be.”

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June 28: It’s a great day for a ride on the Silver Queen!

Likes: 566

The lifts are still running! Come up to Mt. CB to get a day pass and majestic views of the valley and mountains. Go to  for more information.

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July 11: #Monsoon season has begun in #crestedbutte. Time for sweet sweet afternoon showers, rainbows, and #lightning!

Likes: 606

This is an epic picture! The beauty of Whetstone Mountain can only be described as ‘electrifying’!

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July 12: It’s #rainbowseason too! We get #rainbows after our #monsoons, and we get a lot of them #cbcolors #coloradocameraclub #coloradical #colorado Photo: @chris_segal

Likes: 750 

Stunning rainbow over West Wall! It is almost like Never Never Land. Check out our rainbow wall on Pinterest!

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August 5: The #rainbow last night was #surreal! #rainbowbubble #crestedbutte #cbcolors #colorfulcolorado #colorado #lightrays Photo: @chris_segal

Likes: 775 

It is truly amazing, this place we live in, the best place on earth! There is a reason people call this paradise. ‘Nuff said.

Summer is not over yet! Look forward to more photos, and check out to see them all.

Blogger: Skylar Kraatz


"Don’t take any pictures of the surrounding mountains, dear. Remember, only close up photos, this is my secret area," husband says as we head out for our first wild mushroom hunt of the season.


Three black labs in tow, cloth bag for gathering, water, small sharp knife, raincoat, camera……

Gypsy Jazz in Paradise

Rhythmic. Hot. Fast. These are words used to describe the music of Django Reinhardt, French musician and composer of one of the most beloved (and still living) musical traditions of our time. Django Reinhardt started playing banjo at age 12 and by 13 decided to forgo formal education to instead perform music for a living. At age 18, Django was severely injured in a fire. His right leg was paralysed, as were the fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand. Doctors wanted to amputate his leg and believed he would never play guitar again. Django refused surgery and, with the help of his brother and a cane, walked within a year of the injury.

Django Reinhardt

As Django relearned his guitar, using only his first two fingers to play all of his solos and chords, a new movement in music was happening: Jazz. Django was first introduced to American jazz through records belonging to friends and was particularly impressed with  Louis Armstrong. Django met StéphaneGrappelli (violin) and together, the two fused together the music of their heritage with the new style of jazz. When Django got his Selmer guitar in the mid 1930s, the stage was set for France to hear his music.

Along with a few other musicians, they formed the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934. It was special because it was one of the only well-known jazz ensembles that was comprised exclusively of string instruments. The Quintette recorded numerous songs that became popular in and around France. Django survived World War II, partially because the Germans, while officially condoning jazz, like Django and his playing. He went on to tour the United States in 1946 with Duke Ellington, though he did not feel like a true part of the band. After a few gigs and inability to find steady work, Django returned to France in 1947. He was one of the first in France to seek out and appreciate the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.
            Upon his return to France in February of 1947, he had a difficult time coping with the dawn of modernity. He was notorious for being extremely unpredictable and would frequently skip shows to “smell the dew” or “walk the beach.” Django continued to record and perform into his final days, and his last recordings show his music moving into a new direction. He  died of a brain hemorrhage after performing at a club in Paris.
            Django’s friends continued to perform “gypsy swing” or “gypsy jazz” and new generations of musicians emerged. Although his music had a limited audience during his life, gypsy jazz continues to enjoy an international renaissance and popularity with an increasing audience and numerous festivals dedicated to Django’s unique style.

Ben Powell

Frank and Vinny

Kruno Spisic


Enjoy our final mini festival, Gypsy Jazz In Paradise during the second weekend of August. There is something for everyone including a Home Soirée with guitar duo Frank Vignola and VinnyRaniolo, extraordinary virtuoso guitarists dubbed “stars of the guitar”by the New York Times. Also joining the festival is the KrunoSpisic Trio, a group that fuses Eastern European folk traditions with the swing of Django. Ben Powell, acclaimed multi-stylistic improvising violinist, will host a musician workshop Saturday afternoon and perform with the Black Market Trust on Sunday morning. The Black Market Trust performs as many original compositions as they do Django originals, mixing pop, jazz and swing together for a dynamic, technical and musical performance! For more info, visit

Help Support the USA Pro Challenge

In exactly two weeks, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be back in Crested Butte for the third time. For 7 consecutive days, the world’s top cyclers will reach new heights (literally) in the Colorado Rockies, racing against the best of the best. On August 19th, stage 2 of the race will bring mote than 15 world-class pro cycling teams from Aspen to Crested Butte, reaching 9,900 ft on the unpredictable Kebler Pass. The racers will fly through Elk Avenue before finishing with the grueling 2.5 mile climb up to Mt. Crested Butte.


photo: Alex Fenlon

In the mood for biking? Leave the hard stuff to the pros, and join in the shenanigans in downtown Crested Butte for the Townie Crit at 10:30ish, but don’t forget a costume! This is a different kind of biking, navigating the twists and turns around Elk Avenue, featuring local watering hole Talk of the Town, by biking in the back door and out the front! The Townie Crit will finish with a climb up to Mt. CB to the finish line of the Pro Challenge.

The festival finish will be the perfect place to be around noon, in the parking lot of CBMR to watch the racers fly through the finish. Vendors will be all around the area, along with a jumbo-tron for extra viewing.


photo: Alex Fenlon

We can’t wait for the USA Pro Challenge to be back in Crested Butte, but help is still needed! Elk Mountain Events is a nonprofit organization putting on this event, all made possible from donations and volunteers. This is community collaboration, and every bit of help is important in making this event successful. The total fundraising goal is $120,000, and thanks to the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, along with many other local and not so local sponsors, we are over half way there!


photo: Alex Fenlon

To volunteer for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on August 19th go to to register, and pick Crested Butte Stage 2 Finish as your preference.

For donations, please go to Any amount will help!

Look forward to August 19th, and the third time Crested Butte will be a part of this classic competition!

The Crested Butte Arts Festival: Best in the West

A few summers ago at the Crested Butte Arts Festival, I came across an exhibit selling unique jewelry. As I browsed through the rings and bracelets I realized that the artist had hand crafted everything out of old scrap metal, but at first glance you would never know. This jewelry was beautiful and inspiring, and I left 15 minutes later with a thick silver ring made from a spoon. The artist was just one of 175 creative artists who come every year to the Crested Butte Arts Festival to partake in a celebration of art, education and entertainment.

photo: Dusty Demerson

Delighted with my new ring, I continued down historic Elk Avenue, perusing the one-of a kind exhibits. I saw ceramics, drawings and graphics, fiber, glass, metal, mixed media, paintings, photography, sculptures, even wearable art and wood. I partook in a free culinary demonstration, and learned how to pair the right wine with the right appetizer. The best part is that the festival is free, and there is something for everyone. Even the kiddos have fun at the Children’s Art Alley doing arts and crafts.

This year, with the first weekend of August upon us once more, I look forward to the 42nd year of CBAF, which has become a top ranked arts festival, named “One of the best in the West,” and of over 1,200 art festivals across the U.S.A., the Arts Fair Sourcebook ranked the Crested Butte Arts Festival at number 60. In Crested Butte it is the “signature cultural event of the summer.”

I’m counting down until tomorrow for this amazing summer event! The CBAF is a 501 nonprofit arts organization with a mission to encourage and promote the artistic and cultural environment of the Gunnison Valley. I’d say they are doing a terrific job. So come out this weekend, with the 10,000 other visitors, to connect with world class artists. You will certainly find me there; maybe this year with matching earrings to my unique spoon ring.

For more information call (970) 349-1184 or visit

Blogger: Skylar Kraatz

Evolution Bike Park, Why I Ride Here…

When I first made the choice to move to Crested Butte almost 5 years ago, among the many attractions, knowing that Crested Butte Mountain Resort had it’s own lift-served bike park was at the top of my list.  I knew that having such an incredible and ever expanding bike park in my own backyard would prove to be invaluable.  Now after having spent so much time ripping the Evolution Bike Park up and down and all around, I can reflect on my experience…


Photo:Trent Bona Photography           

Firstly, given the relative distance from Denver and the Front Range, once you’re here in Crested Butte, the locality and proximity of Crested Butte Mountain Resort and the Evolution Bike Park offers an unmatched ease of access.  This convenience offers the chance to sneak in a few quick ‘lunch-break-laps’ or to happily spend a whole day casually rippin’ the bike park’s many trails and countless features.  Also, you won’t ever find yourself waiting in a packed lift line nor will you find yourself getting caught up in heavy traffic on the trails like you might find at any other crowded Colorado bike park.  Because of our unique and somewhat out of the way location here, along with the expansive and forever growing trail network of the Evolution Bike Park, you will always have enough room to breathe and to truly ride and push your bike and yourself to the fullest potential.


Photo: Trent Bona Photography

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to witness and partake in the growth and positive changes to the Evolution Bike Park.  Between their constant efforts in repairing and maintaining the already existing trails and their hard work in building and dreaming up new trails, the trail crew has been busy in recent years and seems to be busier and busier with every summer.  Their efforts in up-keep most definitely do not go unnoticed and you simply cannot beat the excitement of witnessing a new trail being built and then having the opportunity to ride it and learn it’s ins and outs. 

With all the recent construction adding to the growing number of miles of trails, there is no end to the variety of terrain, trail features, and styles of riding to be had in the Evolution Bike Park.  From the smooth and flowy trails like Luge and Awakening, to the fun jump trails like Timeline and Crusader, to the challenging and thrilling trails like Avery, Psycho Rocks, and the bike park’s latest and greatest creation, Captain Jack.  Hands down, my personal favorites are Psycho Rocks and Captain Jack.  This incredible variety of trail choices gives riders a limitless chance for self-improvement, creativity and progression.


Photo: Trent Bona Photography

Along with these great aspects, there is a massive amount of support coming from the staff and management of the Evolution Bike Park as well as the entire mountain bike community of Crested Butte.  Running into good friends for a couple of chairlift rides and downhill laps is what makes the experience of riding a bike here truly special and rewarding.   Not to mention the views you’ll find here at the Evolution Bike Park.  Now get up, grab your bike, and go ride!!!


Photo: Trent Bona Photography 

Blogger: Eliot Rosenberg

Evolution Bike Park Mountain Athlete Team


Building trail at #EvolutionBikePark. #trailbuilding #bikepark #mtb


Building trail at #EvolutionBikePark. #trailbuilding #bikepark #mtb