COLORADO: Crested Butte, Colorado’s wildflower capital, nestles in the Elk Mountain Range of west-central Colorado, where lupine, aster, mule’s ear and a host of other blooms dot the fields. But currently the hottest tourist attraction is weed.
The resort town, population 1,600, supports four storefront marijuana shops.
The sale of medical marijuana has been legal for 14 years, but since the state sanctioned recreational marijuana for adults in January, the cannabis shop’s stubby green cross insignia has become as recognizable as a striped barber’s pole – and in some towns, more common. Meanwhile, the number of visitors coming to partake has grown like a weed.
Crested Butte – once a silver mining hotbed, now a hub for mountain bike and ski enthusiasts – radiates a laid-back vibe. Free shuttle buses, whimsically decorated by local artists, ferry passengers from the cozy downtown to condos and hotels on the slopes. On Elk Avenue, the main boulevard, a string of 1880s blacksmith shops, dry goods stores and saloons (Butch Cassidy allegedly drank here) have been reborn as trendy pizza parlors, sushi lounges and Patagonia boutiques. The posted speed limit is a leisurely 15 miles an hour. As one pot tourist observed, “If you’re stoned, 15 is fast.”