THE REVIVAL: Crested Butte made its name as a coal town in the 1880s, then relaunched 80 years later as a ski bum's nirvana. But thanks to inconsistent snowfall and a remote, road's-endlocation at the foot of the West Elk Mountains, hard times came calling in the late '80s.
The energy returned when the town's eponymous ski resort changed hands in 2004. News of its imminent modernization triggered a real estate feeding frenzy, with dilapidated Victorians and miners' shacks alike starting bidding wars. Now, with long-awaited upgrades under way at the ski area including a totally revamped base area, swank lodges, and the possible, controversial expansion to adjacent Snodgrass Mountain "Colorado's last great ski town" is all abuzz. Once the holdout of elite athletes, former hippies, and powder dropouts, down-to-earth CB is attracting a new crop of young families and telecommuters looking for a laid-back and affordable alternative to glitzier counterparts like Telluride and Aspen. There's a boutique bookbinderon Second Street, a new farmers' market every Sunday in summer and fall, and a steady stream of locals on cruiser bikes.
THE LIFE: The '80s saw a slow and steady proliferation of singletrack outside town, making the Butte a true trail-riding mecca. Even on a sleety night, you'll see locals taking to the Lower Loop with snowsuited toddlers strapped in back, and half the town volunteers to maintain their beloved trails, like the legendary 401. Fly-fishing, hiking, and skiing are literally just out the back door.
THE WORD ON THE STREET: CRESTED BUTTE
"It's a beautiful place, the skiing is sick, and the bike trails are sublime. A quirky community of wonderful people."