Crested Butte still has the flair of an old-school Victorian mining town. The resort is modern by any standards, which makes life in this destination-resort town an interesting dichotomy. Telemarking hippies who escaped unscathed from the 60s walk among the fat-pants-wearing snowboarding groms of the new millennium.

There’s a fun, small-town, everybody-knows-each-other feel in the Butte. People are friendly, and the atmosphere is usually very festive. Fine dining as well as cheap burrito places line the main streets. The mountain, three miles from downtown, offers great dining and aprés entertainment, too.

Crested Butte has the most lift-accessed, controlled, ungroomed, extreme terrain (824 acres) in the Lower 48. With the opening of Teocalli bowl this season, Crested Butte is expanding its already huge selection of terrain. Be careful not to charge off alone¿there are too many dead ends to take any chances. If off-piste terrain is what you want out of a resort, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better spot than the Butte. Crested Butte also hosts both ski and snowboard extreme contests.

To make things even more inviting, the resort offers free lift tickets (with the purchase of participating lodging) from November 22 to December 15 and April 1¿8. Be prepared, though, the early dates often mean thin coverage.

The 7th Annual U.S. Extreme Boarderfest featuring big air, boardercross, and an extreme competition will be held from March 25¿29.

For accommodations, there are large modern hotels, homey bed and breakfasts, a youth hostel, and cheap hotels down-valley in Gunnison, 30 miles from Crested Butte. Direct flights into Gunnison make the resort more accessible than ever.

¿John Chorlton