Telluride. One word that always brings a smile to my face. It's a remote outpost town high in the mystical San Juans. Home to the Ute Indians, it's also home to brilliant blue skies, clear rivers and diverse wildlife. The majestic peaks form a narrow box canyon that cradles this old mining town filled with great local culture.
Founded in the late 1800's, the town has been restored to its historic beauty. The small 8 by 12 block town is peppered with colorful Victorian homes and clapboard storefronts. And most importantly, the locals are down-to-earth artists and athletes who visited for a weekend a decade ago and stayed for the natural beauty and camaraderie.
Okay, enough fluff. Down to the boarding. Telluride is a mix of cruisers, steeps and glades that meet everyone's shredding desires. It's spread out over 1,700 acres serviced by 16 lifts. Get it? There's no lift lines. However, the layout makes for lots of traversing, which takes awhile to get used to, and for short runs with a typical vertical drop of less than 1,500 feet. If big vertical is your bag, you'll need to combine two slow lifts, like #8 and #9 for 3,100 feet. But it's an awesome run down Bushwacker or the infamous Plunge. If you're not into vertical, the Air Garden Terrain Park is the largest in the southwest with 8 acres of berms, banks, rails and pipes.
If it's been awhile since you've been to Telluride, get ready for some big changes. In the early 2000's, the ski area expanded into Prospect Bowl with 700 acres of terrain and the addition of two high speed lifts, Gold Hill and Prospect Bowl, to above 11,000 feet. More recently, a lift has been dropped back into Revelation Bowl which brings you up higher on Gold Hill. Previously, the popular Gold Hill's extreme double black diamond runs were only accessible by a long hiking. Now, expert boarders can quickly shred the steeps, glades, open bowls and chutes of natural avalanche paths like Andy's Gold, Little Rose and Dynamo. Plus, you can continue the hike up to the newly opened lines on below Palmyra Peak.
Off the Prospect Bowl lift are easy and intermediate cruisers for the most part. The exceptions are a few short hikeable double-black diamond runs east of the lift, such as La Rosa and Crystal, and west, such as the 30 minute hike up Bald Mountain for vistas of Mount Wilson and then drop into Jackpot powder stash.
For the backcountry hounds, off the top of both new Prospect Bowl lifts are new backcountry access gates for experts only experienced with appropriate backcountry rescue gear.
Back in town, to enjoy the karma of the old town, try staying right in town at the historic New Sheridan Hotel (photo above courtesy Visit Telluride). This classic Victorian hotel was originally constructed in 1891 by the Sheridan Mining Company and was destroyed by fire twice. The main section was rebuilt in 1895 and the annex in 1994 when the entire hotel was renovated. The New Hotel Sheridan is known for its attentive and gracious service. The luxury hotel rooms are simple stunning, complete with Victorian era antiques. Enjoy a quiet night reading a good book or you can play poker inside the cozy rooms. In addition to its gourmet restaurant, the well-known New Sheridan Bar has changed little since 1895 along with it's carved mahogany bar. It is rumored that Billy-the-Kidd came in the bar before and after a local bank heist for a shot and left firing a couple bullets into the tin ceiling. After a couple shots yourself, take a look up to find the holes.
Looking for nightlife? Well, you've come to the right town. Here are a few suggestions that lead to a wild night with several locals. Start at the Sheridan Bar for happy hour, and then head over to Hongas for sushi (beware too many Mojitas!). Next, it's off to the Last Dollar, or if you're looking for a dance place, try Fly-Me-To-The-Moon Saloon. Make sure to end up at late night spot called O'Bannons Irish Pub. Here are some local wisdoms of life in Telluride (courtesy of Erika G.): 1) Telluride is a drinking town with a skiing problem; 2) Hey guys, you don't lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn; 3) Hey girls, the odds are good, but the goods are odd; 4) The only way to get over someone is to get under somebody else; and 5) Don't leave any turn unstoned. Well, there were actually five more, but these were the only reasonably printable ones.
When you finally wake up, try the Coffee Cowboy. If it's already noon, then check out Baked In Telluride for pizza or La Cocina De Luz for carry-out Mexican.
Now that you're stoked, head up the Plunge Lift. From the top, shred down one of my favorite runs: Log Pile to West Drain, East Drain, or of course, the Plunge.
Website: Telluride Ski Resort (970) 239-7050
Website: New Sheridan Hotel (970) 728-4351