Ski purists who dream of uncrowded slopes, short lift lines, and views to the way, way beyond will find them in southwestern Colorado. A seven-hour drive from Denver, Telluride’s remoteness ensures a dedicated focus on out-of-towners. The city’s core, a National Historic Landmark, is lined with Victorian buildings that recall its mining boomtown past—and Butch Cassidy’s first bank robbery in 1889. Just eight blocks wide and 12 long, the city is teeming with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. And when the slopes beckon, hop aboard the free gondola system that links Telluride with the town of Mountain Village, and provides access to the 127 trails at Telluride Ski Resort.
If Telluride’s famous powder doesn’t offer enough adrenaline, learn to snowbike. Guides from Eco Adventures will show you how to strap short skis to your feet, and straddle and steer a low bikelike frame on runners ($45 if you’re certified, or $85 if you need a lesson). Outfitter Telluride Outside offers half- and full-day snowmobile tours ($185 to $795) that explore the backcountry’s easy-riding meadows, old logging roads, and forested trails. Keep your eyes peeled for deer,
lynx, and elk. Or arrange for private ski or snowboard lessons ($180 to $695) at Telluride Ski Resort.
By day, you have your pick of spots for chili, pizza, and burgers, and, at a local institution called Baked in Telluride, the city’s best doughnuts ($1.50). At night, start with happy hour cocktails and hand-cut truffle fries ($13) at Allred’s Restaurant, the chalet perched at the gondola’s Station St. Sophia, elevation 10,551 feet. After sunset, ride the return gondola to downtown’s Cosmopolitan for chef Chad Scothorn’s lobster corn dogs ($16), warm beet salad with local goat cheese ($12), and Colorado lamb chops with butternut squash risotto, caramelized apple, and red wine mushroom jus ($34).
Three blocks from Lift 7 is the Hotel Telluride ($359 to $509) with spacious rooms decorated with the right amount of mountain-man plaid, warm wood, and antler accents, plus a spa, and amenities for pets. Sitting above town with views of the ice-skating rink and near the gondola, the Hotel Madeline's 96 rooms and 11 suites ($199 to $399) are outfitted for maximum coziness—fireplaces,
kitchenettes, soaking tubs, and plump down duvets. With just 29 suites and three
studios, the ski-in/ski-out Inn at Lost Creek ($175 to $1,020) offers condolike
accommodations steps from the gondola.
Almost every weekend from Memorial Day into October, the region hosts an event that celebrates everything from mushrooms to wine, film, bluegrass, jazz, and brews. visittelluride.com
2. Photograph by Ben Eng 3. Photograph by Ryan Bonneau 4. Photograph by Stephen Collector
This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue.