A couple of winters ago, some friends and I road-tripped to Telluride. It was fantastic. We ate and drank and played (read the highlights here). This year, we revisited. And we skied. Hard. The kind of skiing that left me with bruised knees and achy muscles and snow down the back of my jacket because that’s how much fun we were having in the heavenly eight inches of powder that fell that day.

The visibility was so poor above treeline that Revelation Bowl was closed most of the day, though we managed to sneak in a rather harrowing blind plunge before they roped it off—a run that required a little more guesswork (and allowed a little less reaction time) than I’m comfortable with. So we heeded the advice of a kindly Ski Patroller and beelined for Chair 9, where we spent run after run buzzing through floaty, powdery runs that got our blood pumping, quads burning, and appetites raging—nothing that a bread-bowl full of chili at mid-mountain’s Gorrono Ranch (pictured above) couldn’t cure. It was, hands down, the best ski day I’ve had this season. Summit and Eagle counties: I do believe that was a challenge.

Why We Love It: No lift lines and the free gondola mean you can leave the car at your hotel and take the free public gondola anywhere you need to go between the town of Telluride and Mountain Village (the skiing is in between).

When To Go: Any three-day weekend. It’s a 6.5-hour drive from Denver, so you’ll need to factor in the drive and still leave a couple of days open get your turns in. But trust us, the trip is worth it.

Suggested Lift: If the powder’s hitting hard but you’re not into harrowing chutes and world-renowned steeps, head to Plunge Lift (Chair 9) for some challenging, yet manageable terrain. From Chair 9, blue skiers can glide their way down See Forever and take in the jaw-dropping panorama of peaks in every direction. More advanced skiers can hit one of the black trails for bumps, trees, partial-groomers, and everything in between. We found ourselves ripping down Bushwacker more than once for some superfun powder-pushing.

Bonus: At the risk of TMI, the mountaintop outhouses at the top of Prospect Express (Chair 12) are by far the nicest on-mountain facilities we’ve ever seen. Most hilltop ski restrooms are, well, there to get the job done. These remote bathrooms belong in a fancy hotel.

Getting There: Fastest route: Take I-70 West to Exit 37. Turn left onto CO-141 South and turn left again to US-50 East. Drive 54 miles and then continue on CO-550 South. Drive 26 miles, turn right onto CO-62 West. Drive another 23 miles, then turn left onto CO-145 South. Drive 15.5 miles before taking the second exit off the traffic circle onto West Colorado Avenue into Telluride. Hop on the Galloping Goose shuttle along Colorado Avenue for a ride to the gondola.