How to Get from Denver to Crested Butte

Crested Butte, known for its stunning mountain scenery and outdoor activities, is a popular destination for travelers from Denver. Whether you’re planning a winter ski trip or a summer hiking adventure, this guide provides detailed information on how to get from Denver to Crested Butte, including travel options, routes, and tips to make your journey smooth and enjoyable.

Travel Options from Denver to Crested Butte

1. Driving

Driving is one of the most convenient ways to get from Denver to Crested Butte, offering flexibility and the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Colorado landscapes.

  • Distance: Approximately 230 miles
  • Duration: Around 4.5 to 5.5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

Popular Driving Routes:

  • Route 1:
    • I-70 West to US-285 South: Take I-70 West from Denver, then merge onto US-285 South. Follow US-285 South to US-50 West in Gunnison, then continue on CO-135 North to Crested Butte.
    • Highlights: Scenic mountain views, passes through small towns like Buena Vista and Salida.
  • Route 2:
    • I-70 West to CO-91 South to US-24 South to CO-82 West: This route takes you through Leadville and over Independence Pass (seasonal), eventually connecting to US-50 West and CO-135 North.
    • Highlights: Beautiful mountain scenery, Leadville’s historic sites, and the stunning Independence Pass.

How to Get from Denver to Crested Butte2. Flying

For a quicker journey, consider flying from Denver to Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC), located about 30 miles from Crested Butte.

  • Flight Duration: Approximately 1 hour
  • Airlines: United Airlines offers direct flights from Denver International Airport (DEN) to GUC.

Airport Transfer Options:

  • Shuttle Services: Several shuttle companies offer services from GUC to Crested Butte, including Alpine Express and Crested Butte Shuttle Company.
  • Car Rentals: Rental car services are available at GUC for those who prefer to drive themselves.

3. Public Transportation

Using public transportation is an eco-friendly and budget-friendly option, though it requires more time and planning.

  • Bus Services:
    • Bustang: Provides bus services from Denver to Gunnison. From Gunnison, take a local bus or shuttle to Crested Butte.
    • Duration: Around 6-7 hours for the entire trip.
    • Cost: Approximately $40-60, depending on the season and demand.

4. Private Shuttle Services

Private shuttle services offer convenience and comfort, with door-to-door service from Denver to Crested Butte.

  • Companies: Summit Express, Epic Mountain Express, and Telluride Express.
  • Cost: Higher than public transportation but offers added comfort and direct service.

Travel Tips

1. Plan for Weather Conditions

Colorado weather can be unpredictable, especially in the mountains. Check weather forecasts and road conditions before you travel, particularly in winter.

2. Pack Accordingly

Pack layers of clothing to prepare for varying temperatures. Don’t forget essentials like water, snacks, and a first-aid kit.

3. Fuel Up

If driving, ensure your vehicle is in good condition and filled with fuel. Gas stations can be sparse in some mountain areas.

4. Take Breaks

If driving, take breaks to rest and enjoy the scenery. There are many beautiful spots to stop along the way, including small towns and scenic overlooks.

Points of Interest Along the Way

  • Buena Vista: Known for its hot springs and charming downtown area.
  • Salida: Offers art galleries, shops, and the Arkansas River.
  • Monarch Pass: Provides stunning views and is a great spot for a quick break.
  • Gunnison: Visit the Gunnison Pioneer Museum and enjoy local dining options.

Common Questions About Traveling from Denver to Crested Butte

What is the best time to travel to Crested Butte?

Crested Butte is a year-round destination. Winter is ideal for skiing and snowboarding, while summer offers excellent hiking, mountain biking, and wildflower viewing.

Are there any seasonal road closures?

Yes, some routes, like Independence Pass, are closed during winter due to snow. Always check road conditions before traveling.

Can I travel to Crested Butte without a car?

Yes, it’s possible to travel to Crested Butte without a car by using flights, buses, and shuttle services. However, having a car offers more flexibility to explore the area.


Traveling from Denver to Crested Butte can be a scenic and enjoyable journey, whether you choose to drive, fly, or use public transportation. By following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can plan a smooth trip and enjoy all that Crested Butte has to offer. Safe travels!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *