The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado is not hard to find, and it's not easy to forget the adrenalin rush that comes with it. Its location in the Southwest of the state places it near the old mining town of Crested Butte, which has had a complete face-lift. The grizzled old prospectors of the past with burro and a can of beans have been replaced by the young Nordic snowboard crowd and buxom ski bunnies of the ski slopes who enjoy a glass of mulled wine to go with their Rocky Mountain cuisine. No beans!
The area has a plethora of extreme outdoor sports and hiking experiences that would make "Survivor" look like a Disney Cruise; these are ‘events’ not geared to the sedentary office worker with wing tip shoes and whose idea of adventure is a daily habit of driving through Starbucks! No latte here, just sweat and adrenalin! Looking for that perfect white water rush? It's everywhere. Grab your kayak, throw caution to the wind and launch yourself into the swirling vortex of the rapids of your wildest white water wet dreams. These mothers are Class V, and you run the river at your own risk. These rapids are not for wimps.
The area also appeals to the student of the paranormal. There are reports of ghastly ghosts who appear out of nowhere adding a haunting experience to your visit. No charge for apparitions! UFOs? Forget about Roswell! Colorado has its share of sightings and Crested Butte has had its share of anal probes from little green men from an angry red planet. Take the extreme sports, the ghosts and aliens, and you have ESPN meets the Twilight Zone!
To say that Crested Butte is earthy is an understatement. Politically, its epicenter registers a 10 on the Leftist Granola Political Scale. The locals follow the path of a natural lifestyle, which includes natural foods and fibers that go perfectly with a pair of Birkenstocks, a hemp sweater and a mountain bike. The spiritual attitude is "organic," and in this part of Colorado, organics are orgasmic!
So load up for the magical mystery tour, it's waiting to take you away to an elevation of over 8,000 feet in an area that encompasses 30,000 acres of pure, unadulterated, undiluted, and sexy extreme outdoor pleasures that will take you to a natural wonderland accentuated by a deep gorge canyon, 14 miles in length - The Black Canyon of the Gunnison!
Crested Butte rich in mining lore and history, and for the somewhat bizarre noir, they have something that is a must see, in order to believe it. New York has its Empire State Building and San Francisco has it's Golden Gate Bridge, but dammit, Crested Butte has a one-of-a-kind Two Story Outhouse. Sure there are iconic relics meant to pay tribute to a time when miners had to drop their drawers in a hurry, but this is ridiculous. On the logical side of things is the fact that the upper level is offset from the lower level so it manages to minimize dangers to those sitting below.
Cross-country ski trails meander for miles, and snow-shoeing is a must for those who have never done it. You can camp it up camping in the snowbound back-country. This is a test to initiate yourself into an arctic frame of mind. Forget the tent, build a snow cave to get architecturally creative, or push the envelope and go Inuit and build an igloo.
Rock climbing is taken to new heights as you tackle the highest vertical rock wall in Colorado at an astounding 2,250 feet of sheer granite defying gravity. Just remember, most outdoor activity in the area is as challenging as it gets, and Crested Butte plays host to the ESPN X-Games, so if extreme is in your vocabulary and in your blood and you enjoy the dangers of Xing it...you've come to the right place.
To bring adrenalin down to a reasonable level you can, in season, soar silently above the aspen covered forests in a hot air balloon with vistas of snow capped mountains that stretch from horizon to horizon. Arts and culture have also proliferated like rabbits on Viagra, not that rabbits need chemical inducement to breed. The galleries and bookstores are alive and well here and the Paragon Artists Co-op is the volcanic center of the area's creative enclave. The members are artists and activists who organize fund raisers for the local school arts program, the Guest Artist Program and the annual People's Fair. The gallery is run by the artists, where they sell their displayed works in a professional, yet, laid back environment.
Nightlife is the high life with booze, brews and BBQs mixing it up with live entertainment from rock and roll to blues while enjoying the micro brew of your choice with its boutique mystique to go with your finger licking BBQ which, by the way, move over Kansas City, Crested Butte is known for it's BBQ!
Wine lovers can stop their whining and will be happy to know that there is an annual wine and food festival that includes, local, regional, national and international offerings of the latest releases, and it all takes place in one of the most scenic settings in North America.
Lodging options range from luxurious to woodsy. There are ski lodges for the snowboard and downhill crowd with beamed ceilings and an avalanche of ski banter that would fill a singles bar. There are bed and breakfasts for those who want a quart of quaint to fill their tank with lace curtains, communal dining and relaxed conversation with visitors from say, Iowa or Norway. Additionally, assembly line motel chains dot the landscape and there are dude ranches to hunker down in the bunkhouse and fill your days with trail riding and cowboy lingo. If you've read my articles in the past, you know I have a penchant for rustic and roughing it. A two-person tent with mess kit and campfire are all I need to put me in a lusty, romantic mood, so be careful if you ever crawl into my tent unannounced to share my sleeping bag!
Some cabins are inside the Gunnison National Forest and these have fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, and firewood! Outside there are fire pits, bbq grills, tables, hammocks and outdoor chairs, and some folks even hold weddings under nature’s canopy. Perfect for humans, but feel free to bring along Fido or Felix as pets are more than welcome.
No doubt about it. Grab your blunts and head for the Butte, Crested Butte, one of Colorado's best kept secrets. It's a natural high that you will treasure for a lifetime.
For more information, visit CBChamber.com