If you like your ski holidays to be really ''away from it all'' then Telluride is the place for you. Located a good two-and-a-half-hours drive from the next closest ski area, and surrounded by the greatest concentration of 14,000-foot (4267m) peaks (the San Juan Mountains), Telluride has a nice, remote feel. It's closer to the Grand Canyon than to Denver, has not yet seen a traffic light (the nearest one is 72km / 45 miles away.) and boasts more animals and wildlife than people. Compared to other resorts in Colorado, which tend to sit just a valley or high mountain pass away from one another, Telluride has grown up alone. The town''s first skiers, it is said, were the Swedes and Finns who used barrel staves to beat their co-workers to the bordellos on payday back in the mining days of the late 1800s. The last of these female boarding houses; didn't close down for good until 1959. A stunning $60 million in gold and silver was pulled out of local mines during the town's first 30 years alone. (Some of this money accounted for Butch Cassidy''s first bank heist in 1889.) In the early 1970s, the streets of Telluride weren't paved with gold and there was no silver lining on the valley floor. The town had gone belly-up, and miners that had hung on were hoping for new beginnings. In the face of a languishing economy, a group of local miners and shopkeepers looked for a way to revive the town. Hoping that snow would be the white gold of the future, they chipped away at the idea of creating a ski area. The rest, as they say, is history. In the first season more than 30,000 people skied the mountain, with 100 on the first day, establishing a precedent that still exists today - little or no lift queues. Telluride today is free of Western clichés, but full of Western reality. Apart from the skiing and the town, the resort's commitment to the environment, good planning and common sense has gone way beyond the normal winter sports media outlets since it opened its famous gondola in November 1996. Unlike a typical ski area, Telluride''s system offers tremendous environmental benefits by uniquely linking two towns and a ski area. It provides free public transportation for passengers between the towns of Mountain Village and Telluride. The gondola features a mix of quad chairs and four seater gondola cabins on one leg, with eight seater cabins on another. The whole concept is ''very Telluride''. Among the locals, tolerance is a valued commodity. Cowboys get along with Rastafari-ans, who live with trust funders, who buy tickets to the movies made by Hollywood celebrities, who ride lifts with the varied, outdoor-addicted residents. The hippies that pad down the town's streets have been known to put off some visitors because they don't look like Barbie and Ken. But remember that Barbie and Ken's dream world is made of plastic, and that's about the last word you'd use to describe Telluride.
One of the world's top resorts, and least full of hype, based on an old gold mining town. As Dizzy Gillespie has it, "If Telluride ain't paradise then heaven can wait".