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Planning the Perfect Colorado Escape

There’s more than just skiing to keep you busy in these Rocky Mountain towns

Crested Butte, Colorado, is often called the last great Rocky Mountain ski town: It’s got an Old West charm that Vail, which sprung up out of nothing half a century ago, never had. Best of all, tour-and-lodge company Eleven Experience is making it very, very easy to enjoy this unsung powder haven to the fullest.

It offers, for starters, guided skiing in your own private mountain domain. The company, which works internationally but is based in Crested Butte, affords exclusive access to more than 1,000 acres in Gunnison National Forest, and bring guests in via souped-up Sno-Cat. Given the variety of available grades and surfaces, you can warm up on groomed trails then brave backcountry glades and bowls in the afternoon—or, if you like, vice versa.

Scarp Ridge Lodge

Scarp Ridge Lodge

There’s a restored cabin on the mountain for cocoa breaks and après-ski and a pair of deluxe lodging options in town. One is Scarp Ridge Lodge, a seven-bedroom former brothel; the other is four-bedroom Sopris House. (It can be rented on its own or in conjunction with its more spacious neighbor.) Also available is Eleven’s private saloon—three blocks off the town’s main drag and complete with jukebox and custom-made pool table.

Ski at Crested Butte

Skiing at Crested Butte

Included in every booking are Wagner skis that have been made specifically with this terrain in mind, a perk Eleven offers at its other ski locations as well. (One of those is Iceland, where the company opened a farmhouse property; the other is the French Alps hamlet of Le Miroir, where guests can traverse or helicopter into Italy then ski back across the border.) With gear provided and a mini-mart at each lodge offering skiwear from the likes of Patagonia and Icebreaker, you can literally arrive with nothing more than a change of clothes—and perhaps a swimsuit, for the saltwater swimming pool or steam room at Scarp Ridge or the copper hot tub at Sopris House. (Both properties come with a sauna.) In other words, get yourself to Crested Butte, and it’ll be all downhill from there.

NEXT: Where to eat, drink and shop in Aspen…

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