Whether you’re driving in on CO-145 or flying into tiny Telluride Regional Airport, there’s that moment when the box canyon that surrounds the town of Telluride on three sides comes into view, and you finally get it. This is why people make such a big deal of how stunning this place is (Scenery, No. 2, bested only by Lake Louise). Simply put, pictures don’t do it justice. (“Almost looks like a painting!” exclaims one spellbound reader.)
But as anyone who’s visited knows, Telluride is more than just a pretty face. With a vertical drop of nearly 3,800 feet across 2,000 acres—add another 700 vert if you plan to hike Palmyra Peak, which you should—this is a skier’s mountain, evident in the Terrain and Challenge ranks of No. 7 and No. 10, respectively. The mountain actually skis bigger than it’s 2,000 acres, thanks in part to several in-bounds hike-to areas where the descent—and the views—are well worth the O2 shortage you’ll experience on the way up. Advanced and expert skiers: Take a deep breath (or several) and hike Black Iron Bowl and Bald Mountain; you won’t regret it. Intermediates: Challenge yourself on The Plunge, a groomed black, or meander down See Forever, a five-mile cruiser with all the views of the San Juan peaks.
One thing most people don’t know about Telluride? The on-mountain food rivals that of the Valleys (Deer and Sun), and gives the Alps resorts a run for their money. Intimate, cozy spots such as Alpino Vino and Bon Vivant have helped vault the resort’s on-slope food rankings to a lofty No. 3. Town dining also ranks No. 3 thanks to spots like tried-and-true favorite 221 South Oak and new spots like The National. Plentiful lodging options both in town and up at Mountain Village offer something for everyone (Lodging, No. 4), whether you like to roll out of bed and onto the lift (Mountain Village) or savor a latté on the gondy ride from town. Telluride’s lowest score, not surprisingly, came from its location (Travel Ease, No. 30). It’s true that the resort is a long drive—or a connecting flight—from most places, though there are more flights than ever into TEX—check out Denver Air Connection. Or don’t, and heed the “advice” of one reader who just might have an ulterior motive: “Don’t come here, please…” — Samantha Berman
2021 Reader Rank of Telluride, Colo.: No. 6 in the West
- APRÈS SPOT: Telluride Distilling Company, tucked into the Mountain Village, is a cozy nook in which to sample the delicious cocktails made with its local whiskey and vodka.
- LOCAL SECRET: The town ice hockey scene is legit. Catch a game at the Hanley rink downtown on most Fridays throughout the winter to see for yourself.
- OFF-THE-MAP TRAIL: Black Iron Bowl’s hike-to terrain from the top of Lift 12 is accessed with anywhere from a 10- to 30-minute hike and rewards your efforts with a steep pitch and great views.
Read about No. 7 in the West: Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
Crack into the top 5: Aspen Snowmass, No. 5 in the West
Telluride’s 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 7th in the West
Your mother probably taught you that it’s not polite to stare, but admittedly, for a place like Telluride, it’s hard not to. The historic Western town sits comfortably in a small picturesque box canyon surrounded by granite cliff s and snow-laden peaks, and appears as one of Mother Nature’s greatest masterpieces. Readers once again called out Telluride’s iconic beauty, stating, “Not only the most beautiful ski resort I have ever been to, but the most beautiful place I have ever been to. I need to stop searching for a better place. There just isn’t one.”
One drawback of such a picture-perfect spot? It’s not so easy to get there. While winter weather can sometimes make the remote mountain difficult to get to, it also helps keep crowds at bay, meaning no lift lines and wide-open runs. Once there, getting around the mountain is a breeze thanks to a myriad of lifts that quickly sweep skiers across 2,000 acres and up 3,790 vertical feet, granting access to runs for skiers of all abilities.
Over half of Telluride’s expansive terrain is geared toward beginners and intermediates, making it a fantastic family destination, but experts fear not: there is no shortage of fast, hair-raising descents to choose from. In the mood to get your heart pumping? Hike up to the Gold Hill Chutes and rip into Palmyra Basin. Bumps more your thing? The Plunge Lift is the place to be. Looking to carve trenches in fresh corduroy? Hop a chair on the Polar Queen Express and blaze through the groomers there. When your quads start to burn from laying arcs, take a load off at the Mountain Village base area’s easy-access eateries and bars.
Or take advantage of one of this resort’s best assets and ski all the way to downtown Telluride for colorful après, amazing dining, and ample nightlife. “Nothing quite compares. It’s well worth the extra time it takes to get here.” — Stephen Sebestyen
- DINNER PICK: Located in town half a block from the gondola, 221 South Oak offers an upscale menu of international cuisine and an extensive wine list. The restaurant is built in an old home and has a cozy vibe (read: limited seating); make a reservation.
- FAMILY EXPERIENCE: Rent skates and take a glide around the quaint outdoor skating rink downtown.
- APRÈS-SKI: Play pool, shuffleboard, or foosball at the mountainside M Lounge and sample a barrel-aged cocktail.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.
Could Telluride be one the prettiest spots on the planet? Its loyal fans think so. The resort’s setting at the terminus of a box canyon deep in Southern Colorado’s San Juan mountains lures many, but once they’re here, the many treasures of Telluride become apparent.
From downtown’s shop-lined Colorado Avenue to the ski resort’s knee-knocking terrain, skiers just plain love this place. Accolades for Charm and Scenery ring true, and there never seem to be any lines at the lift or at the bar. The benefits of a remote location. Thanks to its variety of terrain—from the hike-to lines on Palmyra Peak to steep, sustained bumps off Apex Lift to the endless groomer cruising offered off the Village Express, Telluride has everybody covered.
With the town’s Western character attracting an inviting community of locals, Telluride is known for its hospitable lodging and top-notch dining; wake up with a coffee and from-scratch pastry from the historic Baked in Telluride and then finish your day with some affordable and flavorful Thai food with ambiance to boot at Siam.
Finally, by virtue of the free gondola shuttling people between Mountain Village and downtown, those seeking a hopping après and nightlife scene don’t leave disappointed. – Jessi Hackett
Come to Telluride Ski Resort for the…
- ON-MOUNTAIN FOOD Go for endless views, a cocktail, and crêpes for under $20 at Bon Vivant.
- DOWN-DAY ACTIVITIES Reset your legs at The Peaks Resort and Spa in Mountain Village.
- LODGING The Dunton Town House is an absolutely charming five-bedroom B&B in the heart of downtown—right by the gondola that whisks skiers up to the Mountain Village.
- DINNER PICK Accessible via gondola, Allred’s Restaurant is perched between town and mountain, and serves up contemporary American cuisine, fine wines, and breathtaking views. Be sure to get there before sundown.
- OH-HILL EATS Head to Giuseppe’s for on-point po’ boy and muffuletta sandwiches.
- BRAGGING RIGHTS When the snowpack and ski patrol allow, hike the ridge-line towards Palmyra Peak, and drop into the Gold Hill Chutes. Steep, fast, and technical, and stupidly fun.