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Crested Butte December Skiing

Crested Butte in December: Overview


  • The front side of the mountain, which comprises 40% of the resort's total skiable terrain and the most consistent intermediate runs, is almost always open on Dec. 25.
  • Among Vail-owned ski resorts in Colorado (Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone), Crested Butte sees the smallest crowds. It's harder to get to than Vail's other holdings and that limits lift lines. But the Epic Pass, which grants skiers unlimited access at Crested Butte in December, does drive skier visits. The holidays are Crested Butte's busiest time.
  • A great town that features a lot of old frame buildings that predate anything resembling a ski resort. Real towns like this one offer the best ambiance during December.
  • The large western aspect of the frontside, which can be an issue in the spring due to sun melting the snow and cold nights refreezing it, isn't an issue in December, as cold temps and low sun angles keep things chalky.


  • The backside terrain at Crested Butte, the steepest stuff at the resort and some of the steepest in Colorado, is almost never open for Christmas. It takes multiple large snow events to provide proper coverage and it's rare that it's even discussed as an option before the holidays.
  • Getting here takes serious effort. Some skiers should consider flying to Montrose, which is Telluride's main airport, as Crested Butte is about 1.8 hours away from MTJ versus 4.5 hours from Denver. During the ski season, Montrose has a lot of non-stop flights on big planes to hubs across the country: Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta. The drive from Denver can be tedious and snowy coming through 285 and over Monarch Pass. The Montrose drive is typically easier.

Crested Butte snow in December

Data show December is the fifth best month Crested Butte for overall snow quality when considering the following factors:

  • Snow quantity at Crested Butte
  • Snow quality at Crested Butte
  • How much snow is required for proper terrain coverage at Crested Butte—steeper resorts require more snow to get 100% open.
  • Crested Butte's snow frequency (standard deviation)
  • Crested Butte's elevation
  • Crested Butte's latitude
  • Crested Butte's slope aspects - more north-facing slopes protect snow later into winter
Crested Butte snow score by month, December in focus

What matters when it comes to snow for December skiing:

Finding good snow early in the season is often a game of chance. But there are mountains and regions that historically perform better than others. We take these factors into account when grading out our scores for resorts and the given season. That said, it's almost always a better bet, in terms of snow and open terrain, to ski in January or Feburary compared with December.

But skiing during the December holidays is a great tradition and it's also one of the only times many families can get away for extended periods.

Those skiing December should look for ski resorts with high average annual snowfalls and low standard deviations. In addition, steep and rocky ski resorts need more snow to get terrain open compared with ski resorts with more modest terrain.

This is also the time of year when slope aspects—north, east, south, west—matter the least. The sun is at it lowest angles in North America in December and has less effect on the snowpack at this time of year than at any other. So ski resorts that possess lots of south-facing and east-facing terrain will generally ski better—assuming there is enough snow—during these darkest times of winter rather than the spring. More explanation on this topic can be found on our snow rankings page.

Crested Butte skiing by month:
Crested Butte
By Month