5 days in Telluride: A first-timer’s guide

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Despite receiving high international acclaim and awards, like Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice “America’s Best Ski Resort” for the last three consecutive years, Telluride does not experience the skier volume that some of the other resorts in Colorado receive. Similar to Crested Butte, there’s a misunderstanding that Telluride is hard to get to. For locals and long-time vacationers, that’s just fine with them—more untracked runs and next to no lift lines! In addition to topping our list as the ski resort that offers the best variety of terrain for every type of skier or snowboarder, Telluride offers a nice mix of off-mountain options, and, as a whole, the entire experience appeals to just about every preference and budget.

Even though some would prefer that Telluride remains a secret, it’s our job to help you have the best ski vacation possible, and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Telluride as a destination that every skier needs to experience at least once! Be warned, going just once is the hard part.


Day 1: Fly into Montrose and get settled at your accommodation

Located in Southwestern Colorado in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains, Telluride is a little more than an hour’s drive from Montrose Regional Airport, which makes getting to this incredible ski town a cinch. You can fly direct into Montrose from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, Phoenix and San Francisco.

The best part about Telluride is all the options it provides, and that includes lodging location and types of accommodations. Guests can choose from staying in the idyllic Wild-West town, where Butch Cassidy once held up a bank, or in the lap of luxury at the purpose-built Mountain Village. Both provide equally convenient access to the slopes, and it’s easy to get between the two locations via the complimentary gondola, which runs until midnight daily. Fun fact: Telluride’s gondola is the only free public transportation of its kind in North America!

If your preferences are more contemporary, you’ll want to stay in the Mountain Village. Enjoy the modern amenities of the Inn at Lost Creek, which include ski valet service and in-room perks, like jetted tubs and steam showers. Settle into one of the 32 well-appointed suites, unpack and unwind at the onsite bar or in the outdoor hot tub.

If you want to be immersed in all the local action, culture, nightlife and dining, you’re going to want to stay at the charming Hotel Columbia in downtown Telluride. Here, you’ll be treated to a daily, complimentary European breakfast and your choice of a studio, one-, two- or three-bedroom penthouse with a balcony, gas fireplace and kitchenette.

If you’re arriving earlier in the afternoon and you’ve already pre-arranged for equipment rentals or delivery service, head to the ski shop or call to have your equipment fitting. Taking care of your rentals ahead of time will allow you to get out on the slopes much quicker the following morning. Ask Tom or one of our other Mountain Travel Experts about pre-arranging equipment rentals or delivery service.

Day 2: Take a complimentary mountain tour to familiarize yourself with Telluride’s terrain
Get your legs under you and your wits about you with a complimentary mountain tour. Led by Telluride’s knowledgeable Mountain Ambassadors, the tour departs daily at 10 a.m. from the top of the Coonskin Lift and lasts for approximately 2.5 hours. Intermediate ski ability is needed.

After the tour you’ll have a good idea of how to get to your preferred type of terrain. Now comes the fun part: it’s time to find your personal piece of paradise!

If you’re still warming the ski legs up, head to Prospect Express for some great blue runs down Prospect Bowl, which is perfect for lapping and affords gorgeous high-alpine views. This zone also provides primo vantage points of the hike-to areas above the lift in Black Iron Bowl. If you didn’t ski it on the mountain tour, See Forever run, which snakes along the boundary-line ridge, is a great place to carve some turns, take in the views and get familiar with the resort. See Forever starts at 12,570 feet, off the Revelation Lift, and skiers can descend down to the 8,750-foot town of Telluride or to the 9,540-foot Mountain Village.

Don’t destroy your legs trying to schuss every inch of Telluride’s exceptionally varied terrain in the first day, but take a couple more exploratory runs in the afternoon. Revelation Bowl is an excellent zone for acclimating to the terrain. The runs are shorter by Telluride standards and it’s easy to bail out onto a groomed run if the snow is a little deep or the bumps are feeling a tad too big for day one.

End the day with a bloody mary and a burger at Tomboy Tavern in Mountain Village. If you need to get back to downtown Telluride, hop a ride on the complimentary gondola!

Day 3: Ski the resort in the morning and enjoy an afternoon exploring Telluride without skis or a board

Enjoy some early morning turns in your newly found favorite stashes, and then take the afternoon off to experience one of Telluride’s numerous non-skiing activities.

If you’re looking for a workout, consider a Fat Bike Tour along the valley floor opt for Nordic skiing or snowshoeing in high-alpine snow fields. Fat bike rentals can be picked up at the Telluride Adventure Center. You can even sign up for a tour that ends at the Telluride Brewing Company. Snowshoeing and Nordic routes are available on the resort at Top-A-ten Snowshoe & Nordic Area, in downtown Telluride at Town Park and along nearby lakes.

For a classic winter experience, consider a dog-sled tour, and those who have a perpetual need for speed will enjoy zooming around the San Juans on a snowmobile. Family-friendly and advanced snowmobile tours are available.

After your adventurous exploits, you’ll probably have worked up quite the appetite, so make an advanced reservation at one of downtown Telluride’s amazing restaurants. If you’re in the mood for good steak and upscale Western atmosphere, head to the New Sheridan Chop House. For fine dining, head to 221 South Oak or La Marmotte. For a less spendy meal, make your way to Oak, La Cocina de Luz or Siam’s Talay Grille, which is located onsite at the Inn at Lost Creek.

Day 4: Check a ski experience off your bucket list and celebrate with a classic Telluride après-ski session

Start your day off by experiencing some of Telluride’s most treasured gems. Whether your bucket-list ski experience is skiing one of the longest—and steepest—mogul runs of your life, heli skiing, conquering a chute or even hitting your first park jump, it’s all possible in Telluride.

To ski chutes…head up the Revelation Lift and hike for as long as you like along the ridge to access one of the 10 Gold Hill Chutes. Keep in mind, the further along the ridgeline you go, the more steep and technical the chutes get.

To ski moguls…head down Kant-Mak-M on the Frontside (Townside) for steep, perfectly formed moguls. Here, you’ll not only get to tick an item off your list, but you’ll also get cheers or jeers, depending on your performance, from skiers riding the Plunge Lift above.

To hit a park jump…head to the Village Express or Ute Express. The beginner-friendly Ute Park is located off the Ute Express, while the more advanced park, Hoot Brown, is located beneath Village Express. Collectively, Telluride terrain parks offer 100 features.

To heli-ski…take advantage of one of Colorado’s only heli-skiing operators: Telluride Helitrax. It’s not just for experts. You can ski everything from gentle powder fields to pucker-inducing chutes and steeps on the peaks and basins that surround Telluride. Ask your Ski.com Mountain Travel Experts for details.

Celebrate your conquests at Gorrono Ranch, a popular afternoon and après-ski spot. Ski the Misty Maiden run off of the Village Express to access this unforgettable on-mountain restaurant. Here, you’ll enjoy one of Ski Country’s sunniest spots on the beach-like deck, as well as the Smokehouse’s pulled pork or rotisserie chicken, live music and excellent cocktails and beers.

Day 5: Take the morning to relax and enjoy a late-afternoon on-mountain lunch

On your last day, experience Telluride at a slower pace and take the morning off. Whether your idea of chilling out includes shopping or taking in some R&R at the spa, Telluride has you covered. Shoppers will want to spend time in some of historic Telluride’s many quaint, eclectic shops, including Pip’s Fine and Funky Consignment or Over the Moon. Spa goers will want to experience a ritual or massage in one of the 32 treatment rooms at the Peaks Resort & Spa.

In the afternoon, hit the slopes to enjoy the last turns of the trip and enjoy a late lunch at one of Telluride’s exceptional on-mountain restaurants. Giuseppe’s, which is located at the top of the Plunge Lift along See Forever run, is a great place to grab casual cuisine and local beers. Don’t miss the black bean sauté!

If you’re looking to end your ski vacation on a high note, head to Alpino Vino or Bon Vivant. Alpino Vino is a charming on-mountain hütte, located along See Forever below Revelation Lift and Gold Hill Express Lift. Serving traditional European haute cuisine and fine wines and beer, Alpino Vino is a lavish, unforgettable affair. Bon Vivant, located at the top of the Polar Queen Express, features a 39-foot umbrella and awesome views from its open-air deck. The menu offers French-country fare, crepes and an acclaimed wine list.



Start planning your Telluride ski vacation now! Our Mountain Travel Experts can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more. They’re standing by at 800-610-8911. You can also get started by filling out a free custom quote.

About Author: Leah Boucher
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now living in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com as Director of SEO + Content, I've been able to combine a litany of skills, passions and interests. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.

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