This May Just Be the Most Idyllic Ski Town in North America

This May Just Be the Most Idyllic Ski Town in North America

With 2,000 skiable acres and virtually no lift lines, Telluride Ski Resort equals bliss.
Skiing has always been a big part of my life. My parents were ski bums who had to strap on skis just to get in and out of their off-the-grid cabin, so it's not surprising that they started me on two planks as soon as I started walking. In some ways, I never had a choice — I was a skier by birth. But I count myself among the lucky because my home mountain has always been Telluride.
So yes, I'm a little biased when it comes to my preferred mountain, but anyone who has skied Telluride can back me up when I say that it's a special place.
I took a few early-season runs with Jess Lyles, a ski patroller at Telluride Ski Resort, to chat about our mutual love for the little town and the ski area within it. Right away, she pointed out a couple of Telluride's biggest charms: a remote locale that keeps the crowds at bay (Telluride is about a six-hour drive from Denver) and direct ski-in, ski-out access from town.
"Not just being able to come here for one or two days changes the whole vibe. Visitors have to book a week or at least a few days, so we don't have that weekend rush," Lyles explained, pointing to the near-nonexistent lift lines. "The ski-in, ski-out access of town is really unique, and not having to drive or park is huge."
And while easy access is nice, Patrick Latcham, vice president of sales and marketing at Telluride Ski & Golf, shared via email that for him, it's the views that set Telluride apart.
"Telluride is located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains and has the highest concentration of 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks in the lower 48," he said. "The San Juans are a relatively younger mountain range which is why we have these beautiful, dramatic peaks."
The San Juan Mountains do more than leave your jaw on the floor; they're the secret to Telluride's renowned skiing. The resort has a reputation for being an extreme, rugged mountain, but beginners will find a blue or green run from the top of every lift, allowing anyone to explore the entire mountain. Latcham points to the Galloping Goose, "a double green run that starts off at 11,815 feet and is 4.6 miles long."
And then there's that Colorado weather. With the resort receiving around 280 inches of snow annually, it's a playground for powder lovers. "We get that really dry, low-water content snow and all these beautiful southwestern sunny days," said Lyles. "It's a good place to learn because it's warm and sunny, and you're not just sitting around freezing."
It's easy to wax poetic about Telluride, but you should just come and experience it for yourself. Here's what you need to know.

When to Go

Telluride Ski Resort's winter season runs from late November to early April, but the snow conditions are usually best between mid-December and late February. March is a favorite month among spring skiing enthusiasts who appreciate sunny, warmer days (though the snow can be wetter this time of year). A year-round calendar of events means there's usually plenty of entertainment to enjoy alongside your runs. Annual festivals include the Telluride Comedy Festival in mid-February and Telluride Gay Ski Week the last week of February.

Where to Stay

Fairmont Heritage Place, Franz Klammer Lodge
For families or groups, it's hard to beat a stay at Fairmont Heritage Place, Franz Klammer Lodge, an all-residence property located at the base of Lift 4 (the resort's central hub in Mountain Village). Each room at the "Klammer," as locals call it, has a full kitchen and comes with complimentary ski valet and transportation to and from both Telluride and Montrose airports.

New Sheridan Hotel

If you want to stay amid the action, book a room at the New Sheridan Hotel, a property on Main Street that also houses one of the town's best chophouses. Dating back to the 1890s, it's one of Telluride's oldest hotels, and that history is reflected in its 26 rooms with Victorian-style furniture and architectural details.

Madeline Hotel and Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection

Those looking for plush rooms and luxe amenities will likely gravitate toward the Madeline Hotel and Residences. The 137-room Auberge Resorts Collection property has ski-in, ski-out access, ski valet service, its own adventure guides, and even an ice rink. After a day on the mountain, nothing beats relaxing in the outdoor hot tubs or enjoying some live music at the Timber Room lounge.
 This New Winter Ski Resort Above Telluride, Colorado, Has Unlimited Powder, Heated Tents, and Unparalleled Stargazing

Where to Eat

Alpino Vino

On-mountain, Latcham recommends Alpino Vino for charcuterie, a nice glass of wine, and its "signature grilled cheese and tomato soup." Perched at 11,966 feet, the Italian eatery is one of the highest-elevation restaurants in North America. You'll need to ski in (or arrive by snowcoach in the evening), but the food and the views from the expansive deck are worth it.

The National

For a nice dinner paired with creative cocktails, it's hard to top a meal at The National, an elegant restaurant in town. The culinary and bar team works with local farmers, so the menus change with the seasons, but you can look forward to dishes like pistachio-crusted trout, miso-glazed beef filet, and vegan lasagna.


If you're after dinner with a view, head to Allred's, a mid-mountain spot only accessible via the town's free gondola. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the resort's flagship restaurant is perfect for appreciating mountain vistas while enjoying farm-to-table cuisine paired with excellent wines. In the winter, the restaurant offers a prix fixe dinner menu, but the bar has a la carte options if you're in the mood for something lighter.

Where to Après-ski

Gorrono Ranch

Lyles and Latcham agree that the place to be at the end of a ski day is Gorrono Ranch — a central, on-mountain restaurant and bar with live music and a giant "snow beach" filled with lawn chairs. Grab a burger or a bowl of chili and take in the views of the Wilson Range.

Oak, The New Fat Alley

Once the mountain closes, ski down to Oak, a lively bar and grill at the base of the gondola. This Southern-inspired spot specializes in "beer, bourbon, and barbecue," but the extensive menu offers everything from gumbo to nachos.


Grab a cocktail at the ultra-cozy There, a tiny tavern known for its intimate atmosphere, friendly staff, and creative libations. You can't go wrong with one of the jam drinks (blueberry or red pepper preserves muddled with vodka, gin, rum, tequila, or rye), but don't overlook the menu of small plates (the Brussels sprouts are a favorite) served from the semi-open kitchen.

Off-mountain Activities

Telluride offers more than just epic ski runs. Culture seekers flock to this former mining town (now a National Historic Landmark) to see its impressive Victorian architecture, heritage sites, vibrant art galleries, and artisan boutiques. Outdoor lovers looking for alternative activities can also try fat biking along the valley floor or Nordic skiing on the six groomed trail systems in the area. Other outdoor activities include winter fly fishing in the surrounding streams and rivers, ice climbing at Bridal Veil Falls, sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and horseback riding.

How to Ride

Lift tickets start at $165 per day but can jump to more than $200 during high-demand periods. If you purchased an Epic Pass, you can ski or ride at Telluride Ski Resort, but reservations are required. The resort doesn't accept mobile passes on the My Epic app, so remember to bring a physical copy of your Epic Pass card.


Telluride Sports has five locations specializing in winter gear rentals, custom boot fittings, ski or snowboard tunings, accessories, and more. Those looking for the added convenience of having their skis delivered directly to their accommodations can check out Black Tie Skis, a full-service mobile ski and snowboard shop with top-of-the-line equipment and various rental packages.

Skiing and Snowboarding Info

With more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and 19 lifts, including two high-speed gondolas, it's no surprise Telluride ranks among the best ski resorts in Colorado. The mountain's 4,425-foot vertical drop can be explored via 149 trails (23 percent of which are beginner, 36 percent intermediate, and 41 percent advanced).


The Telluride Ski & Snowboard School offers lessons for all levels. Private lessons start at $350 for a half day, while group classes in the morning or afternoon start at $100. First-timers ages 15 and up may want to book the Adult Beginner Experience Package, which includes rental equipment, lift access, and a full day of instruction in a small group. Traveling with kids? The resort has a children's ski school for ages three to 14 and a nursery for ages one to four.
Updated by Julia Eskins

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