As snow begins to fall, there couldn’t be more of a perfect time to plan your winter weather vacation.
While every mountain town has its own lovely quirks (and Colorado is chock full of them), there is only one that stands out and offers more than just skiable terrain: Telluride. As one of the last privately owned ski resorts, Telluride gives you a mix of old western vibes and luxurious comfort that is uniquely their own. The off-the-grid enclave boasts some of the highest peaks in the Rockies and a public gondola that allows you to go car-less as you explore the magical town. And there’s more! Unpretentious charming locals, an inconceivable lack of lift lines, five-star dining and accommodations round out the list of highlights. It’s no wonder why Telluride keeps landing the #1 spot as everyone’s favorite North American ski resort.
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A Remote Location With Easy Access
Situated in the San Juan Mountains and part of the extensive Rocky Mountain Range, Telluride’s remote location is easier to get to than you think. Fly direct from 11 U.S. cities throughout winter then book an hour and a half transfer from Montrose Airport to any one of Telluride’s 11 resorts. Upon arrival, you’ll find the town is in fact made up of two distinct areas. At the base, 9,547 feet above sea-level is Mountain Village. The quaint locality is connected to the neighboring town of Telluride, resting at an elevation of 8,750 feet. Reduce your carbon footprint and hop on the one-of-a-kind public gondola. The free 13-minute transfer connects historic Telluride to the more modern Mountain Village allowing the majority of visitors to go completely car-free.
INSIDER TIPRide the gondola at dusk to enjoy the alpenglow. The pink, red, and orange hues appear as a horizontal glow near the horizon, transforming your golden hour photos into Instagram gold.
A Historic Mountain Town
The town of Telluride lies against the edge of a box canyon in a striking Bob Ross-esque landscape. Upon arrival, take a stroll through the colorful village, laid out in an easy to navigate but omnipresent grid-like design. Transport yourself to a more relaxed state, as the ambiance forces you to forget about your day-to-day hustle back home. In need of a morning or midday pick me up? Head to Coffee Cowboy for cowboy-inspired drinks, like the Lone Ranger (Mocha w/Caramel) or Butch Cassidy (Mocha w/Irish Cream). The caffeinated beverages are served from an old horse trailer and a delicious combination of flavor and complexity. If you are inspired to learn more about the town’s wild-west roots, seek out historian and Telluride resident, Ashley Boling for a historic walking tour. The celebrated guide can fill you in on the famed bank robbery or just how Quentin Tarantino conjured some fresh pow for The Crazy Eight.
Hundreds of miles away from any major metropolitan areas and featuring 2,000+ acres of skiable terrain, Telluride won’t feel like a lot of other overcrowded ski resorts. Rest easy choosing between accommodations. Hospitality and neighborliness are a welcoming standard at any of the hotels peppered throughout the two towns. If you are looking to stay in comfort, then the Madeline Hotel & Residences is your jam. Swoon over vista views from spacious rooms in the ski-in, ski-out property. Give yourself the R&R it needs in the outdoor heated pool before you kick back and relax at the hotel’s restaurant and bar. The outdoor fire tables at Black Iron Kitchen and Bar makes your après even more memorable. Comfortably sip on Cucumber Coolers and dream about riding your next double black diamond.
Dinner With a View
Telluride’s restaurants, cafes, and eateries pay tribute to the diverse cultural backgrounds of the small community. Taco del Gnar, Caravan Middle Eastern Food, and The Tunnel showcase Mexican, Middle Eastern and South American flavors respectably. Taste your way through the flourishing food scene that exhibits dining options at every price range. Satisfy your hunger without taking off your ski boots with seven distinctly different on-mountain dining options. Take your lunch to another level and seek out the mid-mountain French restaurant, Bon Vivant. The circular dining spot, located at 11,000 feet comes equipped with awe-inspiring views of Palmyra and Wilson Range, and worth any trek, even if it’s a couple of blue trails. Pair a hand-selected pinot noir with an entree of boar sausage cassoulet under an umbrella that is 100 times the size of any backyard patio set.
INSIDER TIPTelluride’s elevation is no joke. Take it slow and drink plenty of water to avoid the all too common symptoms of altitude sickness. Proceed with caution as you sip alcoholic beverages. One drink at 11,000 feet can make you feel like you’ve had three.
Over 2,000 Acres of Rideable Terrain
One of the most popular reasons to travel to Telluride is its diverse ski terrain. Natural features consist of wide-open glades, powdery bowls, and steep chutes. Relish in the fresh pow without illegally ducking the ropes since these inbound obstacles give you the experience of riding the backcountry. Adventure hounds looking for an adrenaline rush should head to Prospect Lift for Black Iron Bowl. Hike 10 to 30-minutes along the ridge for breathtaking views of the San Juan Range. Then drop-in and free ride 1,000 feet vertically through pillows of fresh snow. Alternatively, access The Gold Hill Chutes from Lift 15. After another short hike, float down the thrilling double blacks to pristine fluffy heaven. Don’t worry; it’s not all advanced riding here. Effortlessly practice your toeside turns on a wide variety of blues and scenic cruisers. Don’t forget to set your GoPro to video as you ride See Forever from Revelation Lift for footage of the impressive ridgeline.
If jumping in the deep end isn’t your thing, Telluride provides ski and snowboard lessons for beginner through intermediate levels. Book through their Ski and Snowboard School where experienced and dedicated professionals will teach you their best tips and tricks. Although instructors (and South Park) may remind you, “If you french fry when you should pizza, you’re gonna have a bad time.” 23% of Telluride’s runs rank at beginner, 36% intermediate, and 41% advanced, so no matter your skill level, your group will have plenty of options. Focus on carving without the fear of colliding into another rider within the designated learn-to-ride areas. With an average of 300 inches of snow, falling won’t seem half as bad as it does on the East Coast.
There are a plethora of outdoor activities available in Telluride to explore beyond the mountain resort. Fat mountain biking, snowmobiling, Nordic, and heli-skiing remain favorites among locals and visitors to explore the range beyond the resort. Head to Bootdoctors where they’ll fit you with a fat mountain bike and helmet, then cruise along the 570-acres of the valley floor. Ride the packed powder along the San Miguel River and keep your eyes peeled for any wildlife as you take your cardio to another level. For the thrill-seeker in all of us, the heli-skiing season runs from late December through early April. Book through family-owned Telluride Helitrax to get unrivaled aerial views of Colorado’s natural beauty and a run of a lifetime.
Detox in the Mountains
With an emphasis on self-care, Telluride’s wellness scene reflects the town’s heady vibe. Transform your mind, body, and spirit with CBD products, health classes, and massage therapy among countless other elevated wellness experiences. While in Mountain Village, head to The Spa at Peaks Resort for a calming acupuncture session. Feel a sense of peace and euphoria wash over you as tiny needles target fatigued muscles and release endorphins. If you need a quick fix, CBD products from Tim’s Naturals are for purchase at M Spa’s counter. Slather on any one of their Trauma Balms before bed and awaken to find soreness disappear, making tackling your next outdoor adventure seem like a breeze. While you are there, realign your chakras with an energy-balancing gemstone massage. Just a short gondola ride away from Mountain Village is Telluride Yoga Center. Come together with like-minded yogis and experience mindfulness through meditation sessions and smooth vinyasa flows.
Hollywood Hot Spots
If Telluride is known for its world-class skiing, then its love for art is a close second. The cultural hub is a critical stop on the award season circuit, hosting a slew of Oscar winners throughout the years. Catch a concert or movie premiere at the Sheridan Opera House. Dating back to 1912, the theater is the lifeblood of Telluride. Taking in art and music enthusiasts for decades with musical acts such as Railroad Earth, Soulive, Grace Potter, and Donavon Frankenreiter. With your creative juices flowing, browse the local section of Between the Covers Bookstore for a history lesson on Western American outlaws Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy. Hosting author and artist Q&A’s, the local shop is invaluable to a community of like-minded artists and culture aficionados.
There is no better way to celebrate a day on the slopes than partaking in a proper après ski session. Take your pick, from an endless pool of on and off-mountain bars. Pair an Italian red with a local charcuterie board at Alpino Vino, then get your camera ready for shots from an impressive elevation of 11,966 feet. Next, head to Allred’s for the alpenglow. Located right off the San Sophia Gondola Station and perched at an altitude of 10,535 feet. Mouthwatering fare coupled with incredible panoramic views makes both mountain-top restaurants easy additions to unwind with friends. While in town, stop by the Historic Bar and Chop House Restaurant at New Sheridan, dating back to 1895. Bask in the “wild west” decor in the setting of the original saloon. Pair a hand-crafted cocktail with fresh oysters as you unwind to the music of a live band. Today, the hotel and restaurant is an institution to locals and a necessary stop for visitors to get a feel for what put Telluride on the map over a century ago.