Fall is a glorious time to visit the Colorado Rockies, with their fall foliage displays, outdoor activities and events in the Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley.
Here is a sampling of happenings.
» 24th annual The People's Fair, Aug. 31-Sept. 1: Hundreds of locals and visitors stroll Elk Avenue to check the 70-some booths showcasing regional arts and crafts, collectibles and antiques, and preserved foods from local gardens. Also expect live music and a food fair. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-349-6484.
» West Elk Bicycle Classic, Sept. 1: Ride with local biking legend Dave Wiens during the second annual Dave Wiens West Elk Bicycle Classic, a 134-mile gran fondo or timed tour (a 100-mile option also available).
The ride, which starts at 7 a.m., climbs 9,300 feet from Gunnison to Crested Butte, circumnavigating the West Elk Mountains, and benefits Western State Colorado University Mountain Sports, which Wiens oversees. The cost to register is $130 until Aug 24, then $145 until the day of the race. For details and registration, go to westelkbicycleclassic.com.
» Crested Butte Mountain Runners Trail Runs, Sept. 1, 21 and 26: On Sept. 1, run one of Crested Butte's classic bike rides. Start on Cement Creek Road and run up the Reno Divide road. At the top either take Reno Ridge trail over to Deadman's Gulch or run Flag Creek to Bear Creek and then Deadman's Gulch trails. The long course is about 20 miles and the Reno Divide course is about 13 miles. The cost is $5 for nonmembers
» On Sept. 21, choose between a half marathon and a 19-mile course for the Camp 4 Coffee Cart to Cart, starting at 8 a.m. The 19-mile course will run from Crested Butte to Crested Butte South where Camp 4 Coffee has locations via several trails, and half marathon participants start on Brush Creek Road and follow the 19-mile course to the finish. The entry fee is $20.
» For a more mellow, 4-mile outing, run with Crested Butte's high school cross country team on Sept. 26 from Crested Butte to Peanut Mine and back on the old railroad grade. Meet at Totem Pole Park at Third Street and Maroon Avenue at 5:45 p.m. for registration, with the event beginning at 6 p.m. and ending with pizza. The cost is $5, with all proceeds benefiting the Titan Booster Club. For details, see cbmountainrunners.org.
» Festival of Beers/Chili Cook-Off & Gravity Slave Weekend, Sept. 7-8: Give a toast to autumn at Mount Crested Butte's 14th annual Fall Festival of Beers & Chili Cook-Off, held Sept. 7 at the base area of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Taste microbrews from about 20 craft brewers, sample chili and listening to live music from noon to 4 p.m.
There is no cost to enter the chili cook-off, just cook up three gallons in advance and compete in one of several categories. Chili sampling will run from noon until 2 p.m. or whenever it runs out.
Call the Crested Butte-Mount Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce at 800-814-8893.
Make it a weekend by enjoying the Adventure Park, taking a zip line tour, riding the Red Lady chairlift and watching or participating in the Gravity Slave mountain bike race Sept. 8. This is one-run downhill race in Evolution Bike Park with pro and amateur age classes. Call 970-349-2211 or see skicb.com.
» Vinotok, Sept. 15-21: Meaning “fall wine festival” in Slovenian, Crested Butte's Vinotok begins Sept. 15 and culminates Sept. 21 after several days of celebrating the bounty of the summer harvest and gathering the community before winter descends.
The 28th annual Vinotok kicks off in tandem with the Crested Butte Farmers' Market/Celebration of the Harvest Mother Sept. 15 with a booth for wreath making, grump boxes, costume items and more. On Sept. 16-17, Vinotok founder Marcie Telander and the Vinotok Theatre Troupe will share the ancient traditions, multicultural stories and mythology of the festival.
The following evening, hear tales of Crested Butte typically told around the pot belly stove at Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, followed by a community feast and entertainment the next evening.
Sept. 21 is the high point with a cast of medieval characters featuring maidens representing the 12 months of the year, accompanied by torchbearers and flag bearers singing and dancing in the streets and restaurants in the early evening.
Locations, times and costs for Vinotok happenings will be posted on the event's Facebook page. For information, call 970-349-6509.
» Waunita Living History Days, Sept. 20-21: Go back in time with Waunita Living History Days hosted by Waunita Hot Springs Ranch east of Gunnison. The Civil War Living History Association will be on-site wearing period clothing, giving demonstrations and talks, and providing a visual idea of how things happened during this historical period. Live music, food vendors and more will be part of the fun.
Finish off the days with a soak in the ranch's hot springs-fed pool ($10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and younger) or spend the night at the ranch, with bed and breakfast options available in fall, winter and spring months. For details, visit waunita.com or call 970-641-1266.
» Crested Butte Film Festival, Sept. 26-29: Expect four days of viewing the best of international cinema, discussing films with filmmakers and easily walking or riding a cruiser bike from venue to venue. More than 90 films will be screened, ranging from narratives and documentaries to outdoor adventure and shorts.
There will be bike parades, giveaways and pass options that make it easy and affordable to enjoy all four days, including events. A children's film program and several filmmaker talks are offered at no cost.
Passes are available at cbfilmfest.org, and individual tickets are sold at the door. A schedule will be available online Sept. 1. For more information, visit the website or call 303-204-9080.
About Gunnison and Crested Butte: Both were founded in 1880 and are known for their Victorian-era charm. The towns are in southwestern Colorado, a four-hour drive from Denver via U.S. Highway 285.
For more information, see GunnisonCrestedButte.com.
— Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association