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Telluride ski resort is set deep in the San Juan Range of the Rocky Mountains in south-west Colorado. A relative newcomer to winter-sports tourism, Telluride was originally one of the world's richest gold-rush towns, now, since opening its ski area in 1972, a rich source of skiers' white gold - snow!


Telluride is an old gold- and silver-mining town, filled with history and with many attractive Victorian-era buildings; it's relatively upmarket yet unpretentious, a lovely place to stroll around and just the right size to have enough shops, cafés, bars and restaurants to lend it a friendly laid-back ambiance, without feeling too sprawling or lacking in soul.

The town is nestled in a deep box canyon, quite remote from any other major towns or cities; this means that it's truly a destination resort rather than a weekend-focused recreation resort, so visitors generally commit to a longer stay to warrant the journey here, which has the positive effect of keeping guest numbers at more manageable levels, resulting in uncrowded ski slopes and negligible queues for lifts.

There are two centres to the resort, both of which offer straightforward access to the ski area: Telluride town itself is a charming and convenient place to stay and is the best choice for anyone who wishes to be close to the widest selection of places to socialise.

For those who prefer to stay slope-side up on the mountain, Telluride's Mountain Village resort is the place to choose; the two centres are connected by a free gondola, accessible by pedestrians as well as slope users.

Ski area

The ski area at Telluride is relatively small but almost perfectly formed, with a good all-round variety of terrain and an ideal layout where novice, intermediate and advanced sectors are safely segregated yet all within easy reach of one another - perfect for lunchtime meet-ups for families and mixed-ability groups.

Beginners start out on the Meadows nursery area closest to Mountain Village, but can safely access many of the higher slopes out on the mountains too, particularly on novice-friendly Bald Mountain, where a number of green-graded top-to-bottom trails cut through the forest; this sector also houses the resort's much-lauded Ute Park, where youngsters and budding freestyle enthusiasts can make their first attempts at riding easy terrain-park modules.

Skiers and snowboarders of all standards in the intermediate spectrum have all but the toughest terrain to choose from to range throughout the entire area. One of the most noteworthy blue runs is called See Forever, which intermediates can join from the top of the Gold Hill Express (chairlift 14); starting off as a rolling ridge-run, with awesome views that truly earn it its name, See Forever splices with the Telluride Trail route down to the town's lowest base area to deliver an almost complete peak-to-creek descent.

Advanced skiers can also get the thrill of home-run blasts from the top of the Plunge chairlift (lift 9), on steep mogulled pitches all the way down to the base area. The choicest slopes for the most experienced skiers and riders are the Gold Hill Chutes and the couloirs off the ridge up to Palmyra Peak, all of which are hike-to zones beyond the uppermost lift terminals, best tackled accompanied by a suitably qualified local guide.

Off the slopes and apres ski

Telluride town and its Mountain Village resort are linked by a free gondola lift that runs from 7am until midnight, seven days a week, so slope users and non-skiers alike can easily shuttle between the two bases to explore all of the off-slope amenities and attractions.

Between them, the on-mountain village and the town have a fair number of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, plus three excellent spas; there are swimming pools, hot tubs and well-equipped fitness suites at the Hotel Madeline and The Peaks Resort, the latter also has an indoor climbing wall.

Alternative activities out in the mountains include snowshoeing trails, dog-sledding tours, snowmobiling, horseback riding, horse-drawn sleigh rides and ice climbing; ice skating is another popular local activity, with ice rinks in both Mountain Village and Telluride town.

Apres ski and nightlife are casual and relaxed, with some end-of-day jolliness at base-area bars but generally more refined and family-friendly than is the case in most other mainstream ski resorts that lie closer to big metropolitan areas. In Mountain Village, the Tomboy Tavern with its Hop Garden umbrella bar is the prime afternoon apres-ski spot, whilst down in Telluride town the Oak Bar, near to the base terminals of chairlift 8 and the gondola, is usually the liveliest hangout.

One of the nicest bars is the one at Allred's at Station St. Sophia (the mid-station on the gondola connecting Mountain Village and Telluride town) directly above the town, with its sophisticated wine-bar ambiance and fabulous panoramic views over the canyon. For live music and dancing, the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon is the key nightspot down in the town.

Apres Ski
Lift System
Off the slopes
Resort Charm
Ski Area
Vertical drop
Altitude range
Ski area
Resort height
Train station
Grand Junction