Skied it for the first time over X-mas and loved it. Have been to Crested Butte 3 times and always wanted to see what it was like so I stopped on the way in to Gunnison and I'm glad I did. They had better powder than CB but obviously not as large a place and not a whole lot of amenities. It wasn't really busy but still tended to get pretty packed in the main run-outs to the bottom. Some locals in Gunnison said it gets really packed on the weekends and the lot overflows into the highway. It was nothing like that the Wed. I was there so if it got to that point the lines and green/blue runs would probably be too crowded but there are plenty of black/double black areas to stay away from the crowds as long as that is something you like and can do. You'd probably want to stay in Salida which is just a short drive back down the pass. Gunnison is your other option but it's about a 45 min. drive. The advantage to staying in Gunnison though is you're only 25 min. from Crested Butte so you can do both, as I did, and not spend much on lodging compared to staying in CB, paying a lot, and being a long way from Monarch.