CRESTED BUTTE MOUNTAIN RESORT SNOWBOARDING
North of Gunnison and Crested Butte, the Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski area is the extreme freeriders mecca in the US. It has more lift-accessed double-black diamond terrain than any other ski area. The NorthFace, Headwall, Teocalli Bowl and Third Bowl all epitomize what hardcore snowboarding is all about. It's pretty well known that if you can ride all of Crested Butte, the ski areas in North America and Europe won't be a problem.
This extreme snowboarding capital has 121 runs spread across 1,587 acres that are served by 13 lifts with a maximum vertical descent of 3,062 feet from the summit. Located on the slopes of the conical Mount Crested Butte, Crested Butte Mountain Resort is extremely boarder-friendly mountain. When rarely needed, the traverses from back to front are even nicely sloped with minimal hiking required, in any.
For starters, take the high-speed Silver Queen Lift from the base area (9,375 feet), which provides excellent access almost all the way to the summit (12,162 feet). Try the double-blacks Peel or Forest from the top station of the Silver Queen (both require lots of snow to open) or consider taking the High Lift (t-bar) to access the steeps and chutes of the double-black diamond Headwall. If you are really adventurous, try the hike to the summit from the top station of the High Lift for a total vertical drop to the base of 3,062 feet.
On pow days early season, head back early to the Double Top Glades off the East River Lift. If you are up for a challenge and theres enough snow, catch the North Face Lift (t-bar) to drop off the North Face into Phoenix bowl with plenty of glades, chutes and drops. Later in the season, make sure to go for first tracks into Teocalli Bowl, which requires a short hike to get out of until they open the Teocalli 2 expansion with the new lift. Speaking of Teocalli 2, starting in February 2015, the Teocalli 2 terrain expansion is officially open even thought the egress lift has not been installed yet. If you do decide to drop into Teo 2 from the top of Teocalli Bowl, be prepared for the 30 minute hike out!
For apres ski in the base area, try the privately-owned Avalanche Bar or the Brown Lab Pub. For some nightlife, you'll need to head down into the Town of Crested Butte. Start with dinner at the Secret Stash in the middle of town, and then head a little further west to Kochevars Bar, and then work back to the Eldo, and then late night head to the Talk Of The Town.
Out of downtown Crested Butte, there is a cat-skiing operation, CS Irwin, which heads up west to the Irwin lake backcountry. It's alittle pricey, but it is a very well run operation with a great snow safety program.
Tip: If you are planning a trip from Denver, try checking out the pre-season Denver ski shows or the ski movie premieres for discount lift ticket coupons. Alternately, while driving up from Gunnison, try checking out the liquor stores for Coors cases which sometimes have half price coupons.