Crested Butte, Colorado: Rank 23 West, 1997

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Crested Butte is the little resort that can. Some ofColorado's woolliest extreme skiing is found at The Butte, particularly in The North Face and Phoenix bowls. "The best steeps I've found anywhere," gushes onereader. With 145 acres of beginner terrain and an additional 340 acres for intermediates, the low-key resort has something for everyone. The town/mountain split can add up to après-ski headaches. But Crested Butte can safely be called both quaint and quirky. A landmark two-story outhouse reminds people of the ghost of Crested Butte past. As for current events, Crested Butte is the only resort whose management will let the locals get away with the annual "Nude Skiing Bonanza," traditionally held the last day of the season. Despite its remoteness, Crested Butte is home to some fine¿although pricey¿restaurants, including Le Bosquet and Soupçon for French cuisine and the Timberline Restaurant for a New American menu. For casual dining and drinking, head to the Wooden Nickel or the Idlespur-CB Brewery (owned by Top Gun actor Tom Skerrit). A locals' breakfast favorite is The Bakery Cafe.

What's New A high-speed quad replaces the Keystone triple; a triple chair replaces the East River double.
A Good Deal What else? Ski free Nov. 21-Dec. 20 and again April 6-19.
Medals Gold Snow Quality, Terrain, Challenge, Value, Weather.
High/Low Rank Value (12); Accessibility (68).
Don't Miss Visit the newly renovated Irwin Lodge, 12 miles outside of town, for sleep-over snowcat skiing; (888) Go-Irwin.
Reader Remarks "Cheap and cheerful¿every run a gem." "Not enough terrain for the average skier. Poor facilities for beginners."