I feel privileged to have sampled what can only be described as one of America’s most EPIC Ski Towns and Resorts. I mean really, who wouldn’t love a town where legend has its name originating from the call “To-Hell-You-Ride,” shouted by those who knew of the town’s boisterousness as a 19th century mining boom town. After all, Telluride is where Butch Cassidy began his illustrious bank robbing career, and a place where more millionaires (per capita) lived than in New York City at the turn of the century.
127 years on and Telluride still lives up to its name, well, in ski resort terms that is, rather than those of the whiskey fueled cowboy. Although, there are a lot of great watering holes around town still! And as crazy as this may sound, I swear you can see the ghostly silhouettes of those cowboys riding down its main street at dusk when the Alpenglow on the Suan Yuan Mountains is at its peak. Oh yes, I hear the snickers of ‘Colorado just legalised cannabis – stoner!’ But honestly, Telluride is without question the most authentic Wild West town I have ever experienced; it’s the real deal, you are going to love it!
Now being a typical travel agent and always thoroughly researching all the ins and outs of itineraries on behalf of my clients, I of course failed to do any of this on my own trip and knew little about where it was that I was going, and where it was that we were staying. So apart from having seen pictures of Old Town and the Gold Hill Stairs and thinking I absolutely must go there, I really knew little more, with exception to those passing comments from a colleague that ‘it is very posh,’ and ‘don’t stay in the main town ‘cos it’s a dark hole’.
Arriving at the doors of ‘Hotel Columbia’ located in old town Telluride, remember ‘the alleged dark hole’, all my dreams came true. Situated right in front of the town gondola with panoramic views up the mountain, and housing what has to be one of the most gorgeous restaurants serving the most tasteful cuisine on the planet, Hotel Columbia was a pivotal point of simplistic boutique luxury. After 3 nights in town we then shifted into the Mountain Village to the Mountain Lodge. Situated right on the Double Cabin ski run and exuding genuine mountain luxury with its log and stone buildings, gleaming with rich leather and rustic Western elegance, our accommodation could not have been better. Having not had a holiday for over 12 months, nor one sick day now that I think about it, my worries dissipated instantly and Telluride and I started what I am sure will be a lifelong romance.
Located amongst some of the highest peaks in Colorado, The San Juan Mountain Range, and hidden down the narrowest of box canyons offering one way in and one way out, is this timeless town. It’s a contrast of old meets new with its luxuriously chic and modern ski in/ski out mountain village located half way up, serviced by a high speed gondola from town, Telluride Mountain Resort is like no other.
With Colorado boasting 300 sunshine days a year, day one really set the mood as Telluride delivered a stunning bluebird for us this day; you could see through to the horizon of the farest peaks in every direction, it was mesmerising. My lovely host Charity Banker from Telluride Ski Resort delivered an exciting introduction to her backyard as we progressed up the mountain and eventually reached the mouth of Revelation Bowl and the See Forever Trail. Here off the Gold Hill Express is where you choose between the bowl or the inbound hike to the legendary Gold Hill Chutes. This terrain is a part of the resorts more recent 400 acre expansion where its 4,425 foot vertical drop (1348 mtrs) is now one of the biggest in North America. So, with great anticipation we dropped into Revelation Bowl which is a deep, above treeline, natural bowl fringed with featured moguls, and what looks to basically just drop off to nowhere beyond where the lift picks up at the bottom. Funnily enough that observation was right on as Charity’s departing words were ‘don’t ski beyond the lift as it drops completely off!’ Lol and gulp, this was where the magic began!
Telluride isn’t however just about the steep and deep. Stacked full of amazing varied terrain and suited to any level from a first time green through to the most ‘EX’ extreme, Telluride Mountain Resort is a complete ski holiday destination for all, and picture perfect to boot!
Traveling with a complete novice I spent a bit of time on the greens and blues, and was blown away by the sheer size of the learner’s hill ‘The Meadows’. Here the run off the Chondola is a protected learner’s playground, boasting one of the most suitable learning trails I have ever witnessed, thus being long and super wide. Oh, and the snow, hmm let’s talk about the white stuff! Some say that snow is snow regardless of where you go, whilst others will argue over who has the lightest, fluffiest, driest, whitest, powder on earth. However, you definitely know you are somewhere special when you can source untracked powder for 1-2 days after it has fallen! Yep it’s true – the secret is out, Telluride is ‘that’ place.
On our last day about 5-6 inches had fallen overnight and looking up the main ski run at around 12 pm in the afternoon it looked as if no more than 10 people had skied down that trail since the mountain opened at 8am. Cruising around the myriad of mid mountain blues and greens off the Sunshine and Prospect Express the question dawned on me, where are all the people? I felt oddly criminal that we had all these stashes to ourselves; I mean how possibly could we track all this terrain in just a few hours, it seemed nothing short of sacrilege, but we had to try!