Summer Resorts 2003: Crested Butte, Colorado


Known as Colorado's extreme-skiing capital in winter, Crested Butte softens its image in summer. The East River Valley is so colorful and brimming with blooms that there's a weeklong festival in July to celebrate the self-proclaimed Wildflower Capital of Colorado. There's no better way to view the flowers, the towering 12,000-14,000 foot peaks, three wilderness areas and acres of national forest than on two wheels. Well-maintained singletrack and old mining roads make exploring easy. In June, Fat Tire Bike Week has guided tours, clinics for all levels and a chainless downhill race. Need a lift? Hikers can ride the Silver Queen chairlift and climb to the 12,162-foot summit of Mt. Crested Butte. Golfers who enjoy sightseeing while they swing can play the Skyland course, which Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed to fully exploit the dramatic scenery at the mountain's base.

When you need a break, head to Crested Butte's quaint Victorian downtown, a couple of miles from the resort. Restaurants, brew pubs and shops line Elk Avenue (the main drag). Locals choose Lil's Land and Sea for sushi and the Idle Spur for burgers and microbrew. If you love sunsets and tunes, bring a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine to the Crested Butte Music Festival Monday evenings in the town park.

DON'T MISS Sign on with Fantasy Ranch Outfitters (970-349-2646; to ride a horse through the Elk Mountain Range from Crested Butte to Aspen (15 miles). Spend the night, then hike or ride back ($440 per person, including lodging and meals).

BEST DEAL June 23-Sept. 1, two nights' lodging at the Sheraton Crested Butte Resort and one ticket to ride the Silver Queen lift costs $106 per person, double occupancy. 800-544-8448;