Discover Irwin

Located just 10 miles west of Crested Butte is the historic town of Irwin. Miners flocked here in the thousands during the late 1800s after the discovery of silver. During it’s heyday, Irwin had some notable visitors including Wild Bill Hiccock, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ulysses S. Grant. At it’s peak, Irwin had a population of 5,000 and 23 saloons. The boom was short lived and Irwin was deserted 5 years after it was founded. The demise of the Irwin was attributed to it’s remote location, long winters, and falling silver prices. You can still find remnants of the town and mines, but there is little left from this once thriving place. There are some people that still call Irwin home. Access to Irwin is seasonal, so the people that live there commute between there and Crested Butte by snowmobile or snowcat during the snowy months! Although living there is still reserved for the hardy, visitors flock there for the beautiful landscapes and recreational opportunities.

wildflowers irwin end of july

Irwin is a destination for snowmobilers and backcountry skiers. Thanks to a weather phenomenon called orographic lifting, Irwin boasts an average of 600 inches per year . That’s 3 times the average snowfall Crested Butte receives! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to ski cold smoke powder (and a lot of it), then Irwin is your place. For a truly unique experience, you can even try snowcat skiing.

Although Irwin is better known for the winter recreational opportunities, when the snow melts it uncovers a picturesque paradise. The winter moisture contributes to lush green hills, spectacular wildflowers, and the crystal blue waters of Lake Irwin. The calm waters of Lake Irwin make it a popular destination for standup paddle boarding (SUP). SUP rentals are available from Three Rivers Resort and CB SUP.  Other summer activities include fishing, canoeing, hiking, and biking. There’s even a campground and a picnic area, so you can easily spend the entire day there.

irwin sup 2

Directions to Lake Irwin:

From San Moritz Condos, follow Hunter Hill Rd to Gothic Rd. Turn left on Gothic Rd and follow for 2.1 miles. Once you enter the town of Crested Butte, road name will change to 6th St. Follow for .3 miles and turn right on Whiterock Ave. Continue on Whiterock Ave for .5 miles and once you leave town, the road name will change to Co Rd 12 aka Kebler Pass Road. Follow Kebler Pass Road for 6.3 miles until you reach the turnoff for Lake Irwin Campground, which will be Co Rd 826. Take a right onto Co Rd 826 and follow it 2.1 miles until you reach Lake Irwin.

Visit our attractions page for more information on things to do in Crested Butte.