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Telluride on Top

Here’s our insider’s guide to the classic Colorado mountain that has it all—from beginners-only playgrounds and blue cruisers to hike-to terrain and big powder stashes.

All those clichés about Telluride? You know, the cowboy charm, the postcard-perfect scenery, the trendy scene, and the chefs moving out here from New York and LA? It’s all true. But of course, what really matters is just how easy it is for everyone to enjoy southwestern

Colorado’s biggest resort.

The promise of that terrain, the vibe, and a town that keeps evolving while holding on to some authentic funk make it worth the seven-hour drive from Denver (or short flight into Montrose). Considering traffic jams routinely bring I-70 to a complete standstill for hours every winter weekend, travel to Telluride seems a small price to pay for non-existent lift lines and a mountain peppered with glades, bowls, chutes, cliffs and long, cruising blues.

Like A Virgin: For Newbies

Telluride is an ideal place to up your ski and snowboard skills (or just enjoy chill cruising) since 60% of its runs are dedicated to beginners and intermediates. Want some space to practice what you are learning? The Sunshine Express (Lift 10) offers exclusive access to beginner terrain. It’s groomed daily, separate from advanced and expert runs, and provides a comfortable environment for newer skiers to enjoy the slopes. One can’t-miss classic for everyone is the always groomed Galloping Goose. Telluride’s longest run begins just below the summit at the top of Prospect Express (Lift 12) and flows downward for 4.6 breathtaking miles to the base. Beginners and intermediates will also dig doing laps and taking in fabulous views of Gold Hill and Palmyra Peak on flowy trails like Magnolia, Madison and Sandia in Prospect Bowl. And no matter your level you can still explore the entire mountain. Every lift here has one or more groomed, easier trail down. So rejoice newbies. At Telluride, you’re not stuck at the base area, you don’t have to worry about which chair you ride, and you still get to enjoy all the breathtaking vistas from the hill’s highest spots without the embarrassment of riding the chair back down.

Meet Me in The Middle: For Intermediates 

Blues and double blues are the meat of the Polar Queen Express (Lift 5) where intermediates, advanced intermediates, and speed freaks can easily spend a full day lapping run after run on the high-speed chair. Enjoy the long sweeping Ophir Loop or spice it up with a drop into chutes like Alta or Silver Tip. No matter what your level, no trip to Telluride is complete without at least one (we’d recommend a few) drops down the aptly-named See Forever. Though accessible from Lifts 6, 9, 14, and 15, we suggest picking it up from the top of Revelation Lift (Lift 15). Groomed daily and hugging the ridge that forms the resort boundary, this trail is simply beautiful. You revel in views of 14,246-foot Mt. Wilson, 14,017-foot Wilson Peak, 14,150-foot Mount Sneffels and even Utah’s La Sals on clear days.

blue sky splashdown There’s plenty of untouched pow in telluride’s expert terrain—hike and hunt for it. photos courtesy Telluride Ski Resort

The Need For Speed: For Adrenaline Junkies

With massive steeps and exhilarating hike-to terrain, Telluride’s got experts more than covered. From Revelation Bowl, hike the new Gold Hill access road, enjoying big mountain views as you do. Check out the bridge and stairs accessing Chutes 9 and 10, and then pick your poison by dropping a gnarly line on this fun but challenging terrain that spit you out into Palmyra Basin. (Note: Chutes are not always open, so pay attention to signs before setting out on the hike).

Continue onto Palymyra Peak and Black Iron Bowl for some spicy, exhilarating expert-only lines. Complete the hike-to circuit—if your legs have anything left—with a hike up Bald Mountain and a run down Jackpot or Wildcat. Double-black powder stashes often await even late in the day. For a change of scenery and stellar views, head to the other side of the mountain: From the Plunge Lift (9) drop Bushwhacker, Bail Out and Mine Shaft, a series of black and double black runs that deliver you directly into town. 


Just outside of Telluride proper, the Inn at Lost Creek ( offers ski-in, ski-out access from Mountain Village, which is connected to town via the free gondola. Park the car and forget about it. Enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet, private rooftop hot tubs (that’s right, private), dog-friendly rooms, extremely kind and accommodating staff and the views.

Don’t miss Gorrono Ranch, perched mid-mountain on the Misty Maiden run for lunch or happy hour; an unbeatable view, live music, a sweet deck, delicious burgers, a noodle bar and a smokehouse make this the place to be. Bon Vivant (at the top of Lift 5) has stunning views and delicious French cuisine. For some local color, grab a beer at the Poacher’s Pub right across from the Inn at Lost Creek. In town, the best options are Brown Dog Pizza, Taco del Gnar and The Oak, a BBQ joint at the base of the gondola.

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