Overview of Telluride, Colorado
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Telluride makes our top ski resorts list – with elegance and ease. Epic terrain, elegant lodging and dining, extraordinary views of the San Juan mountains, swift lifts, oh and great snow! Telluride dates to 1972, and has really made the map among the best skiers and also skiing movie stars who own huge mountainside mansions for their one ski holiday annually.
Telluride is sophisticated like Deer Valley or Beaver Creek but with even more serious terrain. We would sooner compare Telluride to a resort in the Alps for its European style and big mountain skiing. Located in the San Juan Mountains, this part of south west Colorado has the highest concentration of 14,000’ peaks. Telluride ski resort offers over 2,000 acres, interconnected by 18 lifts, the top lifts peak out at 12,000’. Telluride’s terrain is some of the best in the country - very scenic, spread out over numerous peaks but easy to get around. Telluride has so much extreme terrain here that the local nick name is “To Hell You Ride”. Telluride's vertical is a huge 4,425’ if you hike for it, 3,845 is lift serviced. But what is truly grand about Telluride's trail map is that even intermediates can ride to the summit on the Gold Lift (chair 14) and peek over the edge into the extreme terrain dropping down the backside into Revelation Bowl, then saunter down See Forever a fantastic long trail – with a perfect name (though we nicknamed it Ski Forever).
One of our favorite places to ski at Telluride is Lift 9, The Plunge. With 2,000’ of pure vertical on very unique trails like Spiral Stairs, Bushwacker, East and West Drain, you will feel like you are plunging towards downtown Telluride with every turn.
Exciting terrain off Palmyra Peak including the Gold Chutes is reached by hiking from the top of the Gold Hill Express and hiking out to climb Telluride’s Gold Hill staircase at 12,500'. No matter where you are on Telluride Mountain, the scenery is the real show stopper. Prospect Bowl and Polar Queen offer acres of mellow wide open groomed runs, natural trails and gladed woods. While there is plenty of extreme and backcountry terrain on Bald Mountain, Black Iron Bowl and Gold Chutes, beginners love the 4.6 miles Galloping Goose and family friendly like Double Cabin and Sundance off Sunshine Express and Peek A Boo off the Village Express.
For the highest lunch anywhere in North America with a most extensive on mountain wine list, dine at Alpino Vino. This 11,960’ historic mining camp is cozy with hand crafted beams and furnishings and your waiters are dressed in traditional European garb- it's as if you were airlifted to The Alps. The logistics alone of dining at this elevation are amazing, but it is executed seamlessly in a small but delightful chalet. For an extraordinary evening, take a snowcat up to Alpino Vino for a five-course evening of wonderful cuisine, camaraderie with your snowcat and cabin mates, a priceless evening – well actually the price is $125 for the dinner and $60 for the wine pairing.
Telluride has several ski to dining options from the Umbrella Bar Bon Vivant, to the best après ski at Allred’s – a private lunch place in the Gondi building that opens to everyone for après ski 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm, and for special gondola dinners each night. Allred's views into town and the grand mountain architecture are worth it!
Gather your well-off ski buddies and rent the Tempter House, Telluride’s high end high elevation private ski house that comes with its own personal chef and obvious first tracks powder privilege since you are on top of Telluride slopes, living large at 11,000’, above and ahead of the rest of the world for your milk run. Alpino Vino and Tempter House, along with the ski-in après ski spot Allred’s are all located on the appropriately named See Forever Trail at Telluride with splendid views of the San Juan Mountains.
Best Telluride Ski Trail Tip: Take the Gold Hill Lift (Lift 14 to the locals) to the top of Telluride at 12,500' and ski along See Forever - a fantastic Blue Run that we renamed Ski Forever. This long, super scenic trail offers outstanding views of the San Juan Mountains and is usually perfectly groomed. As you ski past Revelation Bowl - take a look down this steep snowy bowl, then continue on to Alpino Vino - an 11,960’ historic mining camp turned into an upscale, up mountain alpine restaurant for lunch and dinner. Next, you will pass Tempter House - a palatial on mountain residence for special event rental, and Allred's - the perfect ski-in après ski spot starting at 3:30 pm, then peek down the Plunge for a view of downtown Telluride, before the descent back to the Ski Village.
If it's a challenge to get to, it's equally hard to leave - so goes the legend of Telluride.
Telluride is a gem in Colorado. What essentially is two mountains (cross gondola is sweet) makes for a serious amount of terrain to explore. The town(s) are super cool with one leaning towards resort while the other side has a more cowboy feel.
Telluride is a fantastic ski resort. The town is great with lots of places to stay and to eat. The skiing is phenomenal, with a large mountain with a wide range of slopes for everyone. Can't say enough good things about it.