News from the snow
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".
five-minute ride time and a 1,050-foot vertical rise. Topping out at 12,260 feet, Gold Hill Lift (#14) covers 1,475 vertical feet in just four minutes and offers intermediate and experts breathtaking views and an expanse of steep terrain. The Lynx (Lift 13) is a surface lift that provides an egress out of Prospect Bowl to Lifts 1 & 10.
With the addition of Prospect Bowl, Telluride offers guests 22% beginner slopes, 38% intermediate and 40 per cent intermediate/expert.
The grooming staff at Telluride have a wonderful way of grooming one side of the trails and leaving the other side to "bump up" into tantalising moguls. If you get tired, or bungle a turn, there is an easy escape onto the flat side. Perfect for those times when one of you wants to cruise and the other needs the exercise, no need to ski separate runs and miss out on each others company.
For the nordic skier, Telluride provides a 30km network of cross-country trails. The Mountain Village golf course and the Valley Floor on the way to town are both maintained and groomed, while the Telluride Noridc Centre at the east end of town offers more trails and nordic rentals for kids and adults.
Out on the slopes with Children's Adventures, your child may be introduced to "Otto," the river otter, or "Ruby," the mountain lion, in a safe, fun atmosphere. The programs incorporate special focus days to educate your child on topics outside of snowriding while he or she learns the basics of skiing or 'boarding. These focus days include "Race Day," "History/Heritage Day," "Safety Day," and "Environment Day."
Children's Adventures runs daily. Each age group has beginner, intermediate, and expert levels: Miners, 3 years old (potty-trained only); Utes, four to six years old; Explorers, seven - 12 years old (snowboard instruction also available for this group). Special lift and rental rates are available to lesson participants. The Adventure Club offers free supervision for young children enrolled in Ski & Snowboard School.
Elsewhere around town and the village Telluride is, in common with most North American resorts, very 'child-friendly' with kids menus in most eateries and plenty else to do besides - riding the gondola is especially popular although possibly pipped by the Peaks KidSpa in the Mountain Village.
There are storytelling events at the library and other opportunities for kids include making cookies and ice fishing. Kids also have night time tubing and sledding facilites at Station Recreation.
The New Sheridan Hotel's restaurant is famous for its avant garde menu which includes ostrich and kangaroo dishes. For Mexican there's Sofios or Jody's kitchen.
For live, late-night entertainment, check out the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon on Telluride's Main Street. Disco night with DJ Harry is a local favourite - look for flyers around town or check with Telluride Visitor Services for details on where he's playing.
At the end of the winter season the resort stages a 'Surf the Rockies' festival which includes snowboard competitions, snow volleyball, bikini slalom and lots of après-ski parties.
Triple Threat is available to riders from advanced beginner (just starting to think about a blue square run) to "the sky is the limit" rider. Demo boards, expert instruction from specialists in each of the disciplines and a guaranteed good time are all included.
Snowboarders have two dedicated stores besides the dozen or so general winter sports rental and retail shops. They should try Easy Rider on Main Street by Telluride's Post Of-fice, and Telluride Slopestyle on Main Street by Elk's Park .