September Splendor: Eco Travel in Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte, Colorado still offers old-fashioned eco travel.  Crested Butte, a town of 2,000 people in a remote part of the Rockies, is sometimes called the "last real ski town." But, as many of the locals will tell you, the real secret season is fall. Summer is gorgeous (it's called the "Wildflower Capital of Colorado"), but in the fall the aspens turn yellow and crimson and the air is so crisp you can taste it. Apart from the colors in the leaves, though, the town is very "green" just as it has always been.

Crested Butte has been an eco travel destination for decades: offering hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, fishing and anything else anybody wants to do in the untouched outdoors. There are also local organic farms to visit, and a natural biology lab, and a lot of wide open space. The town calls itself "unpretentious, authentic and a stark contrast from the ordinary". True, you won't find the streets lined with hip and "eco" businesses (although, there are a few), but you will find that the streets are quiet and overrun with colorful bicycles. Nobody locks their townies (bikes), and cars are pretty unnecessary except when you want to get out and go hiking. Going to Crested Butte is like going back in time.

This month, Crested Butte and the nearby town, Gunnison, are teaming up to offer "September Splendor"  lodging deals. It's also an easy place to pitch a tent (it's an ideal eco travel destination, after all), and some people live in tents through the summer. Some people even live in boxes (they are referred to affectionately as the "box people").

Tonight, Crested Butte will celebrate the 25th Annual Vinotok Fall Harvest Festival. The event marks the end of summer, and the community connects (along with the tourists) to celebrate and prepare for the winter ahead. Locals dress up in medieval costumes and adorn their hair with foliage from around town. The evening culminates in the burning of the Grump, which symbolizes leaving behind the sorrows of the past. Afterwards, most of the locals will end up back at the Eldo (a bar), which will be decorated with branches, wildflowers, and so forth. How's that for an eco travel festival?

Today, Gunnison Ranchland Conservancy Legacy held the Cow Pasture Golf Tournament, which(obviously) involved golfing in a cow pasture. You are allowed to have a horse, a mule or a 4-wheeler as your caddy. Tomorrow, runners in the MountainAir Marathon will run from Crested Butte to Gunnison. At the end of the month, there's a half marathon: Crested Butte Fall Colors Classic, from Kebler Pass down to Ohio Pass (gorgeous!). Even if you aren't a golfer or a marathon runner, though, Crested Butte is an awesome eco travel destination for September, as it's one of the prettiest, most pristine places in the world. (Please don't tell too many people).

Photo Credit: Flickr