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Crested Butte Ultra 2024

September 28

Last Updated April 2, 2024

At the beginning of Fall,  runners from around the world will converge on the idyllic town of Crested Butte, Colorado, for an event that promises to challenge the body, thrill the spirit, and captivate the soul: the Crested Butte Ultra organized by Mad Moose Events. The trails of Crested Butte are frequently hailed as among the nation's best, and for a good reason and it's an event that consistently makes Strambecco's list of Best Trail Running Events in the Rockies. They take runners across serene mountain meadows, challenging ridges, and offer expansive views that seem straight out of a postcard. The routes of Crested Butte Ultra, whether you choose the 35k, 55k, or 50-mile, promise a journey through nature's masterpiece.

These courses are extremely challenging in the high altitude and traverse through Gunnison National Forest, where the stunning, open views will make the race training worth every minute. The area is gorgeous in the fall, covered in wildflowers and aspen leaves changing. The 2023 event sold out early, so be sure to register early for next year!

Event & Course Info

All Crested Butte Ultra races start and end at the Crested Butte Community School and wind through Farris Creek, Walrod, and Teocalli but significantly differ in elevation gain. . The 50 Mile Course of the Crested Butte Ultra challenges runners to overcome both its impressive elevations and the distances between aid. Starting from its lowest point of 8,822 feet, runners will climb to a staggering altitude of 11,291 feet, tackling a total elevation gain of 8,301 feet. Throughout their journey, runners can find support and replenishment at any of the nine aid stations strategically placed along the route. Those brave enough to undertake this formidable distance will kick off their race at 6:00 a.m.

The 55K Course offers a slightly condensed but equally breathtaking version of the ultra challenge. With a starting elevation of 8,822 feet, participants will push themselves to reach the course's peak at 11,290 feet. This trail rewards its travelers with an elevation gain of 4,567 feet. Six aid stations are available to provide necessary sustenance and encouragement. For those looking to experience the beauty of Crested Butte in this mid-range distance, the race begins at 7:00 a.m.

Perfect for those who prefer a shorter but still challenging race, the 35K Course showcases the beauty of Crested Butte without the longer mileage of its counterparts. Starting and ending at 8,822 feet, participants will ascend to a commendable 9,988 feet at the highest point. This route boasts an elevation gain and loss of 2,280 feet each, offering runners a taste of the mountainous challenge. Four aid stations are strategically placed to assist runners in their quest. The 35K race sets the runners on their path at 8:00 a.m.

Aid stations will be generously stocked with a variety of hydration options from water, Skratch Labs, to soda. Nutrition offerings include a mix of fruits, salty and sweet snacks, and much more. Note: This is a cupless event, so runners are encouraged to carry reusable cups. Check out the official 2023 Race Guide for all of the Nitty Gritty details. Conveniently, the finish line is at the same location as the start, allowing for easy logistics and ensuring your supporters can cheer you on as you commence and complete your race.

Whether you're chasing a personal best, seeking a new adventure, or simply looking to soak in the unparalleled beauty of the Rockies, Crested Butte Ultra promises an experience that's both unforgettable and deeply fulfilling.

Area Accommodations & Things to Do

There is no official host hotel for the Crested Butte Ultra, however there are plenty of accommodation options in the area both in town and up at the resort such as Old Town Inn, Elk Mountain Lodge, and Vaquera House. There are many vacation rentals from restored Victorians to slopeside condos. For those that are willing to brave brisk Fall mornings camping, check out Oh Be Joyful Rec Area, Mt. Crested Butte Campground, and other unique camping locations.

Crested Butte boasts a diverse culinary scene that marries mountain-town charm with sophisticated dining, offering everything from rustic bistros to gourmet restaurants that highlight local and seasonal ingredients. Its eateries often surprise visitors with an eclectic mix of flavors and styles, set against the picturesque backdrop of the Colorado Rockies. Be sure to visit Bonez, Soupcon, Secret Stash, or The Slogar is known for its skillet-fried chicken.

Nestled amidst the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte, often referred to as the "Wildflower Capital of Colorado," undergoes a spectacular transformation in early fall. As the vibrant wildflowers of summer give way to the golden hues of autumn, Crested Butte becomes a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. If you're an outdoor athlete looking to immerse yourself in nature's bounty while challenging your physical prowess, you will have your pick at exciting outdoor activities.

Frequently ranked as one of the best mountain bike trails in the country, the 401 Trail is a must-ride in Crested Butte. Beginning with a climb up Gothic Road, riders will be rewarded with a sweeping view of the East River Valley. Early fall offers a mesmerizing mix of the last wildflowers coupled with the initial shades of autumn. After reaching the top, prepare for an exhilarating descent through dense aspen groves, which are particularly radiant in the fall. The single-track route, with its panoramic views and well-maintained paths, promises a thrilling ride that is both scenic and challenging.

For those who prefer the rhythm of their own footsteps, hiking to Green Lake is an exceptional choice. Starting from the town, the trail ascends gradually, winding its way through dense forests of aspen and evergreens. As you approach the lake, the trees open up to reveal a pristine alpine body of water surrounded by towering peaks. The reflection of the golden aspens on the lake's surface during early fall is nothing short of magical. This moderate hike, spanning roughly nine miles round-trip, provides the perfect opportunity to breathe in the crisp mountain air and observe the seasonal changes up close.

For rock climbing aficionados, Skyland presents an exhilarating challenge. Situated just a few miles south of Crested Butte, Skyland offers a mix of sport and traditional routes suitable for a variety of skill levels. The crag itself overlooks the town and provides climbers with breathtaking views of the surrounding valley. The granite rock here is solid and offers a variety of climbs, from crack to face climbing.

Related Events

Mad Moose Events is a hub for premier running experiences set against the spectacular landscapes of Utah and Colorado. They are dedicated to providing unforgettable, meticulously organized races that ensure every mile is marked, and every runner's safety is prioritized with an on-course director performing safety sweeps. Some of their top events include Dead Horse Ultra, Moab's Red Hot Ultra, Canyonlands Ultra, Arches Ultra, Crested Butte Ultra, and more.

Runner who are looking to add other premier trail running events in Colorado to their calendar should look into Aspen Backcountry Marathon and Heavy Half Marathon from Aspen Parks & Rec, the Fruita Trail Half Marathon from Gemini Adventures and part of Adenture Fest, or the Silver Rush 50 Run a Leadville Trail Series Event produced by Life Time Events.

For multi-sport athletes, check out other Strambecco best-rated events taking place in Colorado, such as Colorado's Ride from Summit Cycle Solutions, the Triple Bypass Gran Fondo by Team Evergreen Cycling, or the Copper Triangle from The Ride Collective - three of the Best Road Cycling Events in Colorado and the Rockies. Cyclists who are looking for gravel over pavement should look into the Rad Dirt Fest from Life Time Events, SBT GRVL, and Wild Horse Gravel from The Ride Collective all some of the Best Gravel Cycling Events in Colorado and the Rockies. And finally, mountain bikers will appreciate some of the Best Mountain Bike Events in Colorado and the Rockies such as the Leadville Stage Race part of the Leadville Race Series produced by Life Time Events, Sunrise to Sunset Winter Park from The Ride Collective, and the Telluride 100/50 which is part of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE).

50 mile trail running course map
55k trail running course map


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Crested Butte, Colorado


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