The Ultimate Mountain Guide

Where to ski, board, stay, eat, drink, shop, play, and buy real estate in Colorado's best mountain towns.

November 2010


Boxed in by the breathtaking peaks of the San Juans, Telluride is an enclave revered as much for its scenic majesty as its historic lore and recreational opportunities. It suggests the kind of rugged romance that inspires epic road trips and wistful song lyrics (thank you, Tim McGraw). A 6.5-hour drive from Denver, the mining-turned-ski town is remote enough to escape massive tourist influx, but accessible enough to warrant a long weekend for Front Rangers. A sleek gondola system links Telluride’s historic Old West–style town—just six by 12 blocks—to the upscale resort town of Mountain Village, with 2,000 acres of pristine skiing in between. Leave your car parked at the hotel and explore Telluride on foot. Or skis. Or snowshoes. Or gondola….

SKI A local favorite, Gold Hill’s double-blacks are steep and stacked with powder—a dream after a big storm—and will shoot you through glades that will challenge any weekend warrior. The aptly named See Forever traverse runs down the spine of the mountain just inside the ski boundary; the jaw-dropping views off this ridge stretch all the way to Utah, and the easy cruising makes for plenty of spots to stop and pose. At any point, dip off into the glades on your left—which range from double-blue to double-black—to spice things up.

STAY A night at the rustically elegant Hotel Telluride puts you just out of the way of the hubbub, but in walking distance to downtown (199 N. Cornet St., thehoteltelluride.com, starting at $289). The Wildwood Canyon Inn, a cozy bed-and-breakfast, is a quaint, low-key alternative to Telluride’s glitzy larger hotels (627 W. Colorado Ave., wildwoodcanyoninn.com, starting at $209). For the ultimate in five-star luxury, book a room at the ski-in/ski-out Capella Telluride in Mountain Village and pamper yourself (568 Mountain Village Blvd., capellatelluride.com, starting at $295).

EAT A cozy steakhouse adjoining Telluride’s oldest hotel, the New Sheridan Chop House is renowned for its service and prime cuts of beef (233 W. Colorado Ave., newsheridan.com). Sidle up to the counter at La Cocina de Luz and order a Mexican feast made from scratch with organic, local ingredients, including traditional handmade tortillas (123 E. Colorado Ave., lacocinatelluride.com). Magnificent views at the swanky Allred’s make for unrivaled ambience, and the contemporary American cuisine—from Colorado lamb chops to the crawfish and mussel pot—isn’t bad, either (Gondola Station Saint Sophia, tellurideskiresort.com).

DRINK Last Dollar Saloon—known locally as “The Buck”—is an exposed-brick, tin-ceiling watering hole that has been an après-ski destination for decades (100 E. Colorado Ave., lastdollarsaloon.com). The Historic New Sheridan Bar hasn’t changed since 1895; the mahogany wood panels and hand-carved bar make for a warm, homey end to a cold winter’s day (231 W. Colorado Ave., newsheridan.com).

SHOP Ladies, hit Scarpe for designer denim, flirty frocks, sassy boots, and all-around adorable clothing finds that say mountain hamlet hottie (250 E. Pacific Ave., shopscarpe.com). World travelers will appreciate Picaya, a home-goods store with everything from exotic Indonesian statues to local cookbooks to Tibetan mala bead necklaces (101 W. Colorado Ave., picaya.com). Don’t skip over Between the Covers Bookstore and Cafe—it’s the prime market for a memento of your trip to Telluride or an obscure map detailing the region (224 W. Colorado Ave., between-the-covers.com).

BUY IN Houses in Historic Telluride start at $575,000 (vintage two-bedroom) and reach $1.3 million and way up (newer three-bedrooms). Victorians with three or four bedrooms will set you back at least $1 million. In the Mountain Village, condos start at $330,000 and reach up to $5 million; estates start at $2 million.

DON'T MISS After an epic day in the San Juan powder, relax at the spa—we like the Golden Door Spa at the Peaks Resort (135 Country Club Drive, thepeaksresort.com) and the Atmosphere Spa at the Camel’s Garden Hotel (250 W. San Juan, telluridespa.com). Under a starry night sky, families must go to the outdoor skating rink in Telluride Town Park (500 E. Colorado Ave., telluride-co.gov). Or, team up with Wintermoon Sled Dog Adventures to mush a dozen huskies into the snow-covered wilderness (970-729-0058).

—Julie Dugdale