Crested Butte is located in the beautiful West Elk mountains, on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains. While many people choose to drive to Crested Butte (approximate driving times are below), there are also several airports located nearby that offer a wide variety of convenience and pricing options.
Approximate Driving Times
Crested Butte is located at the end of Colorado Highway 135, deep in the heart of the Rockies. Locals like to say Crested Butte is like an island, because it is so remote from the rest of the state (although CB is only 21 miles from Aspen as a crow flies, in the summertime it is a 3 hour drive, and in the winter it is 4.5 hour drive). However, many people drive to Crested Butte, and it really isn't that long of a drive depending on where you're coming from:
Denver -- approx. 4.5 hours
Colorado Springs -- approx. 4 hours
Montrose, CO -- approx. 2 hours
Grand Junction -- approx. 3 hours
Dallas -- approx. 14 hours
Houston -- approx. 18 hours
San Francisco -- approx. 18 hours
There are 5 airports surrounding Crested Butte, meaning that there is usually a flight schedule and fare for anybody. As you might expect, the most convenient airport often results in the highest fare, while some of the less convenient airports can be significantly cheaper. What follows, in order of convenience to Crested Butte, are the 5 airports that locals normally use:
Gunnison (GUC): 30 minute drive from Crested Butte. Rental cars are available through the major outlets, and the Alpine Express offers shuttles from the airport directly to your accommodations in Crested Butte for reasonable fares. Gunnison Airport is served by United Airlines (with service from Denver, Chicago, and Houston), American Airlines (with service from Dallas), and Alaska Airlines (with service from Los Angeles). Gunnison is by far the most convenient airport to Crested Butte, but often the most expensive. NOTE: Crested Butte Vacations may be able to offer you a package deal on your lodging and airfare at a substantial discount versus published airfares. Call Crested Butte Vacations at for more information.
Montrose (MTJ): 2 hour drive from Crested Butte. Rental cars are available through major outlets, and Alpine Express can pick you up with advanced reservations. Montrose is served by most of the major airlines, and it generally has more flight options than the Gunnison Airport.
Grand Junction (GJT): 3 hour drive from Crested Butte. If you fly into this airport, you will need a rental car as there are no other options to get to Crested Butte. Grand Junction can offer significant savings on airfares, but be sure to add in the cost of the rental car before deciding that it is cheaper than the others.
Colorado Springs (COS): 4 hour drive from Crested Butte. You'll need a rental car, and all of the major outlets are represented. NOTE: If the flight options you are looking at include a stop in Denver before connecting on to Colorado Springs, you may want to consider just flying into Denver. Denver is only about an hour further from Crested Butte, and you almost certainly will spend more time than that catching your connecting flight in Denver and then making the short hop to Colorado Springs.
Denver (DEN): 4.5 hour drive from Crested Butte (depending on traffic). You'll need a rental car, and all of the major outlets are represented. Denver almost always offers the cheapest airfares, but the 4.5+ hour drive can be a chore, especially when traffic is bad in Denver, or there is winter weather affecting the mountain passes
The towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte are connected by a great bus system that runs every 15 minutes during the winter. The buses are FREE, and they make several stops along the way. By far the bus is the most convenient way to get around, meaning that you won't really need a car once you get to town.