Butler Gulch West Backcountry Skiing

Butler Gulch West from the East Chutes.  Photo: Rob Writz

Butler Gulch is a non-motorized winter playground. The proximity to the Denver area makes Butler Gulch popular with snowshoers, cross country skiers, and backcountry skiers. The quick approach and open bowls is great for skiers new to the backcountry and trying to get a feel for the sport. The main skin track up the Gulch allows for efficient access to the lines on Butler Gulch West and the Butler Bowl. The winter winds hammer the open bowls of Butler Gulch so get here quickly after a storm for above tree line freshies.


Butler Gulch West

  • Season: Winter
  • Summit Elevation: 12,085’
  • Aspect: East
  • Elevation Range: 10,465’ – 11,600’
  • Vertical: 400’ – 800’
  • Snowmobile Access: Snowmobiles are not allowed in Butler Gulch.

Skin Track:

The skin track to Butler Gulch starts at the west end of the winter trailhead at the obvious Forest Service signs. Ski a hundred yards up the road to the split from Jones Pass road, and there is a sign showing Jones Pass to the right and Butler Gulch to the left.

Butler Gulch has a primary skin track that follows a ski trail up the center of the valley paralleling the creek. At approximately 1.45 miles, the skin track splits: east and left to Butler Gulch East, and west and right to Butler Gulch West. [39.755, -105.861] The path to Butler Gulch West follows an old jeep road to tree line and Butler Bowl.

The skin track frequently ends at 11,600' in Butler Bowl. To access the northern end of Butler Bowl, Power Line, and Point 12,085 traverse across the bowl.


These routes all lead to the creek. You may need to climb out of the creek and uphill to reach the skin track that climbs the middle of Butler Gulch.


1 - Creek Chute - Dropping directly in from approximately 11,400' leads to a low angle chute lined with rock walls.

2 - Butler Gulch Bowl - A wide bowl with many options, Butler Bowl is a great place for beginning backcountry skiers learning the sport.

3 - Power Line - This is the power line that leads to Jones Pass. The upper portion is open, then into tighter trees that end near the clearing on the main skin track.

4 - Point 12,085 Glades - A small bowl and glade drops east from tree line below Point 12,085 into tight trees.


Jones Pass (10,465’)

Jones Pass and Butler Gulch share a winter trailhead. If you are coming from Interstate 70, leave the highway at Exit 232 for Winter Park and Highway 40. Drive slowly through the town of Empire as the town strictly enforces the 35 mph speed limit. From the Interstate 70 exit, drive 7.2 miles to the first major switchback on Berthoud Pass. Turn left on Henderson Mine Road to Jones Pass. Drive to the Henderson Mine complex and to your right is a small road leading 800 feet to the winter trailhead. [39.7712, -105.8548] If there has been significant snow, this small road may not be plowed and not passable. To the left is a large lot that you can park in. This lot is commonly used by snowmobiles. The Jones Pass and Butler Gulch winter trailhead serves both motorized and non-motorized winter users. Most trucks and trailers park at the lower lot near the mine, or in the first of the upper two lots.


Below we have included a link to a Google interactive map and a curated list of photos of the mountain.

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website