Camper van on road cutting through yellow trees in fall

Exploring Crested Butte in a Camper Van

Regardless of the time of year you go, exploring Crested Butte, Colorado is a stunning and memorable experience. We highly recommend adding this destination to your road trip bucket list. If snow sports aren’t your thing, that’s totally okay. This mountain town offers year-round scenic beauty.

Once you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why outdoor lovers, athletes, retirees, tourists, and everyone in between flocks to this town for some mountain air.

In the spring, bright yellow and purple wildflowers cover the sides of the mountains for as far as you can see. And in the fall, the aspen trees light up the land with their golden shimmering leaves.

This fall we sent Disa and Melissa (aka Miss Rover on Instagram) to Crested Butte in a camper van to explore the area. Not surprisingly, they made some beautiful memories together. And the photos they brought back were breathtaking. Continue scrolling to learn more about the area, see their photos, and get inspired to plan your next trip to Crested Butte.

The Perfect Camper Van for Crested Butte

For this trip, Disa and Melissa travelled in Free Bird, a 2022 Storyteller Overland Stealth MODE 4×4. Free Bird is located south of Denver and was waiting for the two when they flew into town. Our Storyteller Overland MODEs can comfortably seat four adults and accommodate sleeping arrangements for three adults.

Two things that automatically make MODEs great for fall road trips is their heating systems and their 4×4 capabilities. Each van is equipped with a heater that can run even when the van is turned off. So when the temps in Crested Butte drop in the middle of the evening, you’ll be warm and toasty inside your MODE camper van.

The 4×4 capabilities of the Storyteller Overland MODE make these camper vans a fantastic option for exploring the roads less traveled around Crested Butte and also for finding secluded off-grid campsites.

Speaking of Campsites

Disa and Melissa found some good ones! If/when you make it to one of these incredible spots, please be sure to practice Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. Boondocking is a special experience because it feels like you’re really out in nature. Practicing Leave No Trace principles helps us preserve the sense of wildness that these places give us. As well, LNT principles help protect the local flora and fauna in these spaces.

We didn’t event scratch the surface when it comes to camping around Crested Butte. Nearby areas with dispersed camping include Taylor Canyon, Gunnison National Forest, and the town of Gunnison. Check out this resource for more established campsites around Crested Butte.

What to Do In Crested Butte

Disa and Melissa spent equal time hiking and exploring downtown Elk Avenue in Crested Butte. Check out Melissa’s blog on missrover.com for the full run down of downtown. She detailed her favorite shops, best food, favorite coffee shops, and the nightlife.

Hiking opportunities are endless in Crested Butte. Disa and Melissa were on a short trip, but they managed to get in two iconic hikes: Teddy’s Trail and Upper & Lower Loop.

Here are nine more trails in and around Crested Butte. The levels of difficulty range from strenuous, all day excursions to leisurely strolls through the woods. You can’t go wrong with any of these trails. Beauty abounds everywhere in Crested Butte!

  1. Rustler’s Gulch
  2. Brush Creek
  3. Horse Ranch Park Loop
  4. Beaver Ponds
  5. 403 to viewpoint
  6. Red Lady via Scarp Ridge
  7. Mt. Crested Butte Summit – Lift access available.
  8. Point-to-Point: Crested Butte to Aspen
  9. Recreation Path from Crested Butte to Mt. Crested Butte – Free shuttle transportation is available on the way back.

Mountain Biking

We would be remiss to create a road trip guide to Crested Butte and not talk about the mountain biking trails. Cyclists from around the world travel to this mountain biking mecca. Mountain biking season extends from early April to late October on a good year. And there are over 750 miles of single track trails.

The infamous 401 trail loop is a bucket list trail for cross-country mountain bikers. This trail is for intermediate and advanced riders. If you embark on this trail, be prepared to be out all day. Pack enough calories to fuel 14.1 miles of trail with over 2,200 feet of elevation gain. Noteworthy is the max grade on this trail is 29 percent. Please remember that you will also be riding between 9,500′ and 11,335′ elevation. Pack extra layers that you can take on and off when needed to help with thermo-regulation. It’s also a good idea to have a water proof layer in case you get caught in an afternoon monsoon.

If you enjoy mountain biking but want to stick closer to town, you can have a blast riding at the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park. Over 30 miles of trails exist. And lift service is available so you can avoid pedaling to the top of the mountain. The downhill trails range from beginner to expert level. Before your final run down the mountain, be sure to hit up the Umbrella Bar for a refreshment.

Memories that Last

Exploring Crested Butte, Colorado – whether by camper van or another mode of travel – is the kind of trip that you remember forever. Why? Well, if it wasn’t already obvious, this landscape, the flora, and the fauna will captivate your attention for days, even weeks. Whatever worries you have in your “real life” will melt away on a road trip to Crested Butte. Whether you can make it out for a weekend, a week, or a whole season, you’ve got to experience this place for yourself.

Explore Crested Butte in a Camper Van

Take a magical experience and turn it up a notch by renting a camper van for a trip to explore Crested Butte. Click below to browse our curated fleet of camper vans in and around Denver.