Explore CO {Crested Butte Cave Trail, Slate River}

Colorado is one of our favorite places to visit in the summer. The combination of seeing family and being outside in weather that isn’t blistering hot makes my whole crew happy. We mainly hung out with family, but we squeezed a few hikes in around the town of Crested Butte.

I’ve been trying to record snippets of our trips here as a way to remember them, but also for future reference (for me and others). As a parent, I always appreciate real life perspectives and tips on places and things. Traveling looks totally different as a mom of 5 than it did when I was a single 20-something. We still explore, but differently. These travel posts are extensive travel guides for everything in an area – they are simply a few notes and tips from our trips.

We didn’t have tons of time for long hikes, so we did a couple shorter ones near where our extended family lives. The first was a hike super close to Crested Butte South called the Caves Trail. We saw a handful of people on the trail and the boys were really hoping to see a bear in the caves (an adult verified first that a bear was not in the cave).

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The view from the top was spectacular. This was our first high elevation hike with our dog. She basically pulled us up the mountain and then dragged us back down. Beagles are known for their energy for a reason. I had a Yorkie growing up. She couldn’t make it around the block before she’d just lay down and make someone carry her. Our beagle is the exact opposite. We love her, but I can’t imagine having a beagle without the entertainment of 5 kids!

The website says it is steep and strenuous. I didn’t think it was that bad, but it was in full sun most of the way. It isn’t that long, so you don’t need tons of stuff to take along. Water, snacks (my kids always need snacks), and hats were all we needed. Climbing inside the cave is steep, just a heads up.

You can see the caves from the main road between Crested Butte and Gunnison. The kids really enjoyed spotting them from a distance every time we drove by on the road.

8.15crestedbutte-028.15crestedbutte-03Their hats are from Honey Bee Tees.8.15crestedbutte-04

The kids were wanting to play in a river, but not go on a long hike. My brother-in-law took us to the perfect spot along Slate River. We were able to park nearby, the current wasn’t too strong and the water wasn’t too deep. The boys spent most of the time throwing rocks while the girls cleaned the rocks (washed river rocks in the river).

I can’t find a direct link to where we parked and hiked down to the water, but it was a dirt parking lot and there was a small walking bridge over the water. The majority of people we saw on the trail were riding mountain bikes. I think the trail loops from the town of Crested Butte. I told Chris in a few years we are bringing (or renting) bikes. The drive out to the river was gorgeous – natural beauty without all the ‘touches’ of man. I am sure you could just ask a local for directions, it was a single road outside town.

I sat on my bottom and watched the kids. Let me say that again, I SAT DOWN. It was awesome.

8.15crestedbutte-05My kids don’t believe shoes. The rocks were smooth and they were running in and out of the water. Shoes are so cumbersome to my kids 🙂8.15crestedbutte-068.15crestedbutte-088.15crestedbutte-098.15crestedbutte-10My oldest daughter wanted so badly to cross the river, but it got a little deeper than she was comfortable crossing. We all told her she could do it, but she wasn’t so confident. When she is unsure, there is pretty much always at least one brother that comes alongside her. After crossing with his help once, she confidently crossed back and forth on her own. I hope her brothers are always there to help build her confidence and show her she can do it.8.15crestedbutte-11

We visited Crested Butte (the town) for a bit. Here are my two food recommendations: A cookie ice cream sandwich from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (it is huge, our family shared one) and the gourmet vegetable soft tacos from Teocalli Tamale. My brother-in-law order the tacos and I very much regretted that I did not after tasting a bite of his. So good. There are so many other things to do in Crested Butte and places to visit….and hike….and explore. We didn’t have much time, so we tried new places this round.

Share your favorite Crested Butte tips in the comments…for those traveling later and for me next year!CLICKHEREtravel

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  • Kristin S - I think THESE brothers will always be there for her. You have fostered that in your children – so it seems.

  • Lacy - Thanks for sharing your family trip adventures. I can be a worrier and tehse posts always remind me that other families try things, like hikes, and they and their kids survive. One question – did your kids have any trouble with altitude sickness while you were in CO?

  • Lacey Meyers - I just love your travel posts, Ashley! Both because we get to see lovely places we might otherwise not, and also because it is a joy to see your family enjoying such wonderful adventures together. Thank you for sharing!

  • Lindsey - My family has a home in Crested Butte… been going there my whole life. Hiking Mt. Crested Butte is so fun, and there are so many places to just hike around the base. As far as food I have to say Slogars Chicken in downtown CB. Oh my… comfort food at its finest. Best fried chicken and best cottage cheese I’ve ever had!

  • Jenny L. - I love watching your youngest daughter with her father. I remember when you went to get her and looking at the picture of her sleeping on Chris’ chest and thinking she really likes this new daddy stuff. Every little girl should have that kind of Dad!

  • Ruth - I am always encouraged by how much your boys love and look out for your girls! I have two boys and a baby girl so I am always on the look out for great examples of loving older brothers 🙂 When my girl is old enough she can do her bit by making them cookies like Firecracker does! You have such a beautiful family; enjoy your vacation!!

  • brandy - can you believe I actually chose beagles so that I would HAVE to run? 10 years later and our beagle perks up every morning with the hope for a run.

  • Amber - I share your kid’s disdain for shoes! Shoes are overrated! : )