The Cheapest Way (On Your Own)
Fly to Denver airport on a discount airline like Southwest. Denver is a Southwest hub, so you can usually get a nonstop flight. Arrive with enough time to get to the bus. Before buying your airline ticket, make sure the return timing for the bus works.
From baggage claim, follow the signs to the transit center. The signs will take you down escalators. At the bottom of the escalators, there are machines to purchase a one way $10.50 ticket which will take you to Union station. You can skip the line by downloading the app from the light rail site.
Take the Light Rail from Denver Airport to Union Station ($10.50). NOTE: Remain at Union Station – the Gunnison bus departs from a lower level from where the light rail lets off. You don’t need to leave Union Station.
Take the Bus from Union Station to Gunnison ($37). This is a very comfortable bus with power outlets and WiFi (good enough for email but not for streaming). You should buy your ticket online, when you make your airline reservation. When configured correctly, the bus ticket web page should look something like this:
Get off at the Powerstop Gas Station & Cafe.
Travel the rest of the way to Crested Butte via Alpine Express (you’ll need to make a reservation ahead of time). “We typically pick up passengers at the Powerstop bus stop and bring them to where they are staying at in Crested Butte. The cost is $37.53 one way per adult or $68.38 roundtrip for most addresses.” From the Alpine Express home page, click on “Reservations,” then, below “Gunnison/Crested Butte Airport to/from Crested Butte,” select either “Adult Round Trip” or “Adult One Way.” Put in the date, the bus arrival time (6:30 pm) under “flight arrival time”, and put “Powerstop” in the space labeled “Name of Hotel/Condo or Lodging Address.” You can leave the rest of the fields alone. Alpine Express will email you a confirmation. If you need to you can also contact them: email@example.com.
For your return trip, reverse the order of the above. Note that if you buy a round-trip ticket from Alpine Express the total cost is a bit cheaper.
When returning, try to arrange it so your light rail train arrives at the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight leaves. If you do so, you can check your baggage at a special desk at the light rail station.
The Cheapest Way (With Others)
- Denver is a hub for Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines, so you can usually get an inexpensive nonstop flight.
- Rent a car from Denver. If you’re a Costco member, their car rental service is exceptional.
- Use the mailing list to find others to share your car rental.
Flying into Gunnison
- This is often the fastest, and most expensive, option.
- Alpine Express takes you from the Gunnison airport to Crested Butte.
- Because of weather, the Gunnison flight can be unreliable, especially in Winter.
- Airline tips
- Coaches can be rented for groups, to take you to Crested Butte
- Montrose airport (about an hour further away than Gunnison) can sometimes be more reliable than Gunnison in the Winter. There are services to bring you from Montrose to Crested Butte, or you can rent a car.