Winter in Telluride by Mark Robert Richards
Lore has it the name “Telluride” either comes from the mineral Tellurium mined in the region or the saying, “to hell you ride,” given the town’s mining reputation during its heyday. Regardless, Telluride is a beautiful year-round destination with a colorful mining history. Telluride has been rated the #1 ski resort in North America by Conde Nast readers. Telluride offers a spectacular box canyon setting with dramatic mountain vistas. The town has lovely historic charm with an easygoing vibe. The dress is casual and nothing like Vail or Aspen with its snobbishness. The modern town infrastructure and well-developed ski resort, especially the Mountain Village area, are lovely. Telluride finds the perfect balance between sophistication and unpretentiousness. Although highly regarded, Telluride isn’t as famous as other Colorado hotspots like Vail, Aspen, Winter Park, or Breckenridge.
People think Telluride is harder to reach unless you have a private plane. Telluride sits in southwest Colorado near the four corners region where Colorado meets Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Nearby are the Telluride and Montrose regional airports, with flights available from various North American cities. Telluride airport is primarily for private planes, but Denver has a daily commercial service. Montrose has more frequent air service. It is a 90-minute drive from Montrose to Telluride, and Montrose is a 30-minute flight from Denver. For comparison, Breckenridge is a 2-hour drive from Denver, and if traveling during the weekend, plan on a three-hour drive. Ditto for Winter Park. Aspen and Vail also require connections in Denver and a shorter drive.
Telluride’s terrain is legendary and has something for everybody. Telluride Mountain is 2,000 acres in size, which is above average for a Colorado ski resort, and it has an impressive lift-serviced vertical drop of 3,845 feet. There are 17 lifts, 2 are high-speed gondolas, and various high-speed chair lifts. Telluride Mountain lift lines are shorter than the other Colorado resorts. I’ve never waited longer than 2-3 minutes in any lift line, even on the weekends. Telluride Mountain never gets that busy. The region receives on average more than 300 inches of snow annually. With 300 days of yearly sunshine and no lift lines, skiing and snowboarding in Telluride is an epic experience. Telluride Ski Resort opened Revelation Bowl in 2008. This spectacular European-style terrain is situated above the tree line and offers advanced and expert skiing at close to 12,000 feet in an unbelievably scenic setting. All told, the resort has recently expanded by nearly 400 acres, offering the most incredible skiing and riding on the continent. The mix of skiing and boarding by rating is as follows: Advanced/Expert (41%), Intermediate (36%), and; Beginner (23%).
The nightlife is excellent, with a good selection of Telluride and Mountain Village bars and restaurants. There are many superb choices for dining. I suggest you search either topic for the current listing. The community is very family-friendly, with many things to do besides skiing.
There is a diverse range of activities to complement a ski or snowboard vacation. Activities in the area include winter fly fishing, sleigh ride dinners, dog sledding, or a treatment at one of the many-day spas. Or, for those who want to keep the adrenaline levels high, there’s ice-climbing, snowmobiling, and glider rides, or you can pretend to be a cowboy and go horse riding. Of course, Telluride shopping is also impressive.
There are several lodging options. Staying in the city has benefits because it’s stumbling distance from restaurants and nightlife. In contrast, families often prefer the modern mountain village to access the beginner slopes and kids’ facilities. Both the town and the Mountain Village have ski-in ski-out accommodations, although the town’s ski-in access is only via intermediate slopes. A free gondola connects the two areas and operates daily from 7 am to midnight.
Mark Robert Richards is the retired Chairman and CEO of Appvion, Inc., headquartered in Appleton, WI.
Mark is now President of Meade Street Advisors, LLC, board governance, executive coaching, and strategic planning consulting business headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Mark travels extensively worldwide to unique places and likes to share with others what he finds.