Colorado, USA

Telluride is a spectacular resort in the heart of Colorado’s San Juan mountains. Getting there is half the fun – the scenic drive from Gunnison or Durango is topped off with an even more picturesque main street. Rarely are ski resorts as pretty as they are challenging, with a nightlife as exciting as it is laid-back, and with accommodation that ranges from ultimate luxury to great budget hotels. Telluride is the complete package and Scout adores it.

Scout Loves

  • The photogenic historic Main St with the steep sides of the box canyon looming over.
  • Some of the country’s best hike-to terrain, chutes and bowl skiing (when the conditions are right)
  • A wealth of fine dining options and down-to-earth bars.
  • Catching the free gondola to the mountain village at night, looking back down on the twinkling lights of the town.
  • Apres and fabulous cocktails at 10,535ft (3211m) at Allred’s Restaurant (bask in the incredible alpen-glow).
  • There's some great heli-skiing based out of Telluride.

Scout Tips

  • The elevation of the Mountain Village is high at 9,545 ft, so if you suffer badly from altitude sickness you would be best staying in town (8,750 ft).
  • Dine in style on the mountain with a five-course Italian-themed menu at Alpino Vino restaurant.
  • The are two main areas, the town and the Mountain Village. A free gondola connects the two and runs to midnight. Regardless of where you’re staying you won’t need a car.
  • A visit to the historic New Sheridan Hotel is a must. The bar is a happening apres spot while its restaurant, Chop House, has the best steaks in town.
  • Leave some time (and space on your credit card) for a bit of shopping – there are some fabulous boutiques and galleries among the multitude of gear and equipment stores.
  • Taco Del Gnar is a must-visit - a modern twist on mexican fare for the whole family.

Scout Review

Telluride is one of those places that puts you under a spell the moment you arrive. Whether it’s the ghosts of its mining past or the spirit of the San Juan Mountains, there’s something quite enchanting about this place.

It also happens to have some of the best skiing in North America, a happening restaurant scene and a vibrant nightlife. But yet it’s also quite understated - there’s definitely some glitz and glamour and it’s popular with celebrities (there are great luxury hotel options) but that element remains subdued because the main events here are the mountains and the cutest town far away from anywhere.

Getting to Telluride is the start of the adventure – most arrive here via Montrose airport. The town does have its own airport (which also happens to be the highest commercial airport in North America) but it’s notorious for its frequent closures due to weather, forcing planes to divert to Cortez airport. If you do take the safe option, the drive up the valley from Montrose is stunning and as you head deeper into the box canyon the mountains get higher and higher until you finally arrive at the town of Telluride, which is surrounded on three sides by cliffs.

This ski resort has something for everyone. Beginners and intermediates will love the fun terrain and if you’re staying in the Mountain Village there are several ski-in ski-out hotels making it super convenient and easy for families. But it’s the advanced skiers that will really experience the specialness of this resort – the chutes, bowls and steeps will challenge even the most expert of skiers in a way that very few resorts are capable of. Don’t forget your back-pack for carrying skis because some of the hikes to the higher peaks are so gnarly you will want both hands free. It’s not for the faint hearted but the reward is sweet. Not only will you have some of the best runs of your life, you’ll get to watch some incredible skiers who all flock to the resort for the extreme terrain, and seem to bound down the runs with effortless grace. If you manage to avoid a face plant on the way down treat yourself at one of the many lively apres options in the village before heading down to town for a delicious dinner. But try not to get overexcited in one of the great bars, because hiking at 13,000ft (4000m) with sheer cliff drops either side while sporting a hangover is not fun and definitely not recommended.

Telluride Skiing

We love to ski at Telluride. Offering over 2000 acres of terrain, with something for all ablity levels, alongside some of the most incredible views (seriously, you'll be distracted!), Telluride is one of those resorts that sets the bar for skiing in North America. 

The resort is perfect for beginners and families, with the majority of the green runs located around the Mountain Village, conveniently close to accommodation and facilities including the ski school and rentals. The runs are also crafted to assist progression, allowing those learning to take the next step in their skiing careers. The Sunshine Express offers long and mellow green runs for those just starting out, and the Prospect Bowl allows beginners to head up the mountain and take in the incredible surrounding views. Intermediate skiers and snowboarders will love Telluride terrain for its cruisey groomers, and relatively mellow off-piste trees (which are fantastic on a powder day). Polar Express is a popular chair to lap, and intermediates will love the leg-burning run from the top of Revelation Bowl down to the main village area (via See Forever). A fun option for the kids is also skiing down to the town of Telluride, and catching the gondola back up, and provides a great view of the local town area from above.

Telluride is also known for its advanced and expert terrain, with the resort offering the alpine steeps, bowls, and gnarly chutes that many resorts in Colorado lack. The Plunge Lift also provides access to incredibly fun black and double black groomers, perfect for fast corduroy turns and moguls. Revelation Bowl is a local's favourite, and one spot to beeline towards on a powder day. Most of the best lines are accessed by a hike, but the views are unbelievable as you drop into one of many powder runs. The terrain is mainly below tree-line, so there are some nicely spaced tree runs and double black options for the more advanced skier. The backcountry areas of Telluride are incredible, and best suited to expert skiers with knowledge of backcountry skiing and those equipped with all the necessary safety equipment. A local guide is always recommended. These off-piste maps are the perfect way to plan your powder decents!

Snowfall on average measures almost eight years each season, and due to its location, crowds are almost non-existent, providing plenty of opportunities for fresh tracks well into the afternoon. Servicing the vast terrain are two gondolas and seven fast quads and they work sufficiently to keep the lift lines to a minimum. Scout visited Telluride over President's Day Weekend (one of the busiest weekends of the season), and lift lines were surprisingly minimal, with the only real wait (maybe 10 minutes) at the main Village Express.

Telluride is part of the EPIC pass, allowing you to explore more of the resorts in both North America and Canada. Those with the full pass can ski a total of seven days on the pass with 50% off additional days.

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Telluride For Families

The town of Telluride and the mountain village are both very well established for families. The resort offers a great range of childcare options, including Ski Cubs that incorporates a mix of childcare and ski lessons. The ski lessons for kids are also reasonably priced. We love the Afternoon Kids Club, which offers a supervised program to entertain the little ones while their parents fit a few more runs in (or enjoy a kid-free apres session). The Kid's Night Out program is also a popular choice for families, providing activities for kids (usually dinner, movies, & games) to meet others at the resort and giving parents a well earned night off. 

Both on and off mountain, you'll find a great mix of restaurants, bars, and cafes to suit every member of the family, from pizza (Crazy Elk is super tasty!) and pasta to good ol' American fare. There are endless option and you're sure not to eat at the same place twice!

Telluride is a purpose-built Mountain Village, with well-planned infrastructure including pedestrian walkways. Families can choose between staying in the mountain village, or down in the town of Telluride. Those who like the convenience of access to the slopes and require ski school would be best suited to lodging on-mountain, with plenty of condos (ski-in/ski-out), hotels, and lodges to choose from. The Mountain Village has less nightlife than town, however, a gondola provides easy access between the two areas (about a 21 minute ride in total). In town, many lodging have ski-in access, and are barely minutes walk from a chairlift. If you're after a more authentic mountain town feel, historic Telluride is a fantastic place to make your home base.

Telluride Accommodation

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Accommodation options at Telluride are generally split between smaller, more boutique lodges in the town and larger, full-service hotels in the Mountain Village, along with a wide selection of condo properties and luxurious private homes. Although the hotels in town are a relatively close walk to the lifts, if being close to the slopes is important then you probably want to be in the resort village. There are some great ski-in ski-out options up there, and the village also has a few restaurants, shops and bars (mainly for apres). The best evening scene, however, is in the village so if you want to be in the heart of it all and among the quaint historic center then you should stay in town. Fortunately, the free town gondola is quick and easy so regardless of what option you choose, the other one is never far away.

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Resort Activities

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If you manage to tear yourself away from the slopes, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy - from snowshoeing, snowmobiling to the crazy-looking snowbiking or some more adrenaline-pumping ice-climbing. If relaxing is your thing, options include several day spas or some retail therapy in town. The cool Telluride Brewing Co. has a tasting room and is open until 7pm daily. Grab a coffee from local favourite The Butcher & Baker Cafe, and explore the fantastic boutiques, a good spot to pick up a locally made souvenir.

Getting There and Around

Telluride has the unfortunate misconception of being difficult to get to. It’s certainly not as accessible as somewhere like Park City or Vail, but this is also its blessing as the mountain has less (almost no) day-trippers making it a true destination resort.

Montrose Regional Airport is the closest commercial and is a scenic 75-minute drive. It’s well serviced by four major air carriers with direct flights from 11 major hub cities. There are several shuttle companies, the main one being Telluride Express and costing about $60 for an adult one way in a shared ride. Of course, if you have your own private jet, you can always fly into Telluride Airport, just 15 minutes from downtown.

Don’t bother renting a car. It’s not worth the expense (especially because of the cost of valet parking) or the hassle and you won’t use it. Regardless of where you are staying, most places are either a walk or a gondola ride from where you want to go. The free gondola from the town up to the base of the resort take approximately 21 minutes, and provides incredible views of the town of Telluride and surrounding San Juan mountains. If your accommodation is slightly out of the centre there are free town buses, including the Galloping Goose in town or Dial-A-Ride on-demand shuttles in the Mountain Village.

When To Go

Telluride Mountain Resort is open from late November to early April. The most reliable month is February, though there can be some great skiing earlier and later in the season.

Holiday periods that are busy are:

  • Christmas and New Year.
  • Martin Luther King long weekend
  • President’s Day long weekend

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 8725ft /2659m Gondolas 2 Beginner 23%  
Summit Elevation 13,150ft /4008m Express Quads 7 Intermediates 36%  
Vertical Drop 4425ft / 1349m Quad Chair 1 Advanced 41%  
Skiable Area 2000+ac / 810+ha Triple Chairs 2      
Annual Snowfall 309in / 7.9m Double Chairs 1      
Longest Run 4.6 miles / 7.4km Surface Lifts 2      
Operating Hours 9.00am –4.00pm Magic Carpets 2      
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