THE INSIDE LINE: Telluride, CO
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Elevation: 12,255 feet Vertical Drop: 3,530 feet Snowfall: 390 inches Getting There: The resort is in southwestern Colorado, 360 miles from Denver. There are flights into Telluride from Denver and Phoenix; more flights land in Montrose, 65 miles north of town. Info: 800-801-4832, tellurideskiresort.com
Beta: Stowed in a box canyon deep in Colorado’s San Juans, Telluride should be on every expert skier’s life list. Here, you can drum down the egg-carton bumps of Kant-Mak-M or crest a knoll on See Forever to glimpse Utah’s La Sals, 125 miles away. And now, with a recent 733-acre expansion into Prospect Bowl, the mountain has nearly doubled in size. At the base, Telluride is a tale of two cities: The new Mountain Village (upscale, immaculate) complements the historic, erstwhile mining town (nostalgic, funky). A free gondola links it all together. To get here, you can’t just roll off an I-70 exit ramp, but in this case, remote is a good thing.
As early as 7 a.m., join the throng of T-Ride townies in line at Lift 8. Race to 9 to catch the Holy Grail: Bushwacker is steep and smooth. Make laps on 9, then ride the Gold Hill lift to the trees of Little Rose and Dynamo. Post lunch, hike just a few minutes from the top of 12 to Prospect Bowl’s Genevieve, La Rosa, and Crystal. They’re all short but sweet.
3 Days Later
Like a close-fisted skinflint, Telluride’s trees don’t dispense booty freely. So for leftover riches, thread the needle on Log Pile, East Drain, and West Drain, off Lift 9.
If you’re seeking Sno-Kone consistency, Apex Glade off Lift 6 and Milk Run off 7 turn soft and slushy first. Shaded and firm in winter, the mogul runs off 9 soften up in April.
Telluride is a perpendicular place. Getting mired on flats isn’t a problem, but getting cornered on bump runs might be. Weave through the trees of Buzz’s Glade or play in Air Garden, Telluride’s terrain park. With few riders per capita, you may have it to yourself.
Marquee route: Do like the Visa commercial and take The Plunge, a 3,100-foot dive into town that alternates between manicured and moguled, narrowing to a flume at the bottom.
Off-Broadway: For respect, run a mogul marathon off 9: Hit Mammoth, zig over to Spiral Stairs, and zag to lower Kant-Mak-M.
With an unpredictable snowpack and huge cliffs, the San Juans can be lethal-don’t venture OB without the right gear and someone who knows the terrain. Heli rescue can cost up to 10 grand; for three bucks, the Colorado Hiking Certificate (Telluride Sports, 970-728-4477) will cover you. The resort has two access gates. The one near Chair 14 leads to Bear Creek Valley, a playground of couloirs and open bowls.
Drinking & dancing
Town is where it’s at. Start at Fat Alley’s BBQ (970-728-3985) for a dollar Schlitz. Next, slurp martinis and oysters on a faux-fur bench at the Noir Bar (970-728-8862). Dance to live bands at Fly Me to the Moon Saloon (970-728-6666).
Stop by Maggie’s (970-728-3334) for the EPT (eggs, potatoes, toast), Wildflour for bagels, and Steaming Bean for hair-on-your-chest coffee. Hit Smuggler’s (970-728-0919) for burgers and brews. For miner chic and pan-seared trout, eat at Harmon’s (970-728-3773) in the old train depot.
Budget (by Telluride standards) means The Victorian Inn ($130- $168; 970-728-6601) in town; save dough by cooking in its kitchenettes. Big spenders can soak in marble tubs at the Inn at Lost Creek in Mountain Village ($265-$445, studio; 888-601-5678).
With a Bikini Slalom and Ski-A-Thong (for men), the spring festival (Surf the Rockies, March 29-April 6) made it innto a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not wacky- events segment.
The views here are beyond-postcard incredible. To squeeze in the craggy crumple of 14,000-foot peaks, bring along Kodak’s Advantix Switchable ($17; kodak.com), a one-time-use camera with a panoramic format option.