2003 Number 12 Resort in North America: Telluride, Colo.

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Telluride visitors can pick from the best of both worlds. Stay in town and enjoy living in a National Historic District with colorful Victorian homes and clapboard storefronts. Or stay a short gondola ride away in Mountain Village and get a taste of luxury hotels and condos, stylish boutiques and spas, and five-star dining. Either way, you'll agree with readers who proclaim, "Telluride is one of North America's most beautiful resorts." But beauty can take you only so far. Beginner to hardcore skiers visit Telluride for its "uncrowded slopes," "variety of terrain" and "challenging steeps and tree-skiing." Last December, Telluride nearly doubled its acreage with the opening of Prospect Bowl. Its three high-speed quads access 733 acres and 1,500 vertical feet. "I've skied 10 of the top 20 resorts and Telluride's the best," says a reader. Though some gripe that "Telluride is hard to get to," others assure "you'll be glad you made the trip." One thing's for certain: The resort's remoteness keeps it quiet and laid-back. The local lifestyle extends beyond the slopes. Take a hot-air balloon or a glider ride for a bird's-eye view of the San Juans. Explore the backcountry on a dogsled or just unwind in the natural hot springs in nearby Ouray. One reader concludes, "All around, Telluride was one of the most pleasant skiing vacations of my life."

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WHAT'S NEW Prospect Bowl. This is the first full season for Telluride's new expansion area, which is earning praise from all corners.

A GOOD DEAL Three nights' luxury lodging at Hotel Telluride for $475 per person, includes champagne, breakfast, lift tickets and transfers.

MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Service, Weather, Dining, Scenery; SILVER Snow, Grooming, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Après, Off-Hill Activities, Family Programs, Terrain Parks.

HIGH/LOW RANK Scenery (2), Service (10), Dining (10); Snow (33), Value (34), Access (54).

DON'T MISS The stunning views on the Gold Hill Lift and a sunset cocktail at Allred's, perched atop the gondola at 10,550 feet.

READER REMARKS (+) "Wow! So beautiful, with great shopping and nightlife." "Bar none, the best skiing and scenery in Colorado." (-) "Over-priced." "Needs more grooming."

Great Lodging Deals here.