The Best Ski Resorts in North America: 08. Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride Ski Resort.     Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr

Though people tend to think of Vail and Aspen first when they consider Colorado skiing, Telluride shouldn’t be overlooked. A host of the FIS Snowboard World Cup this year (December 14 and 15), Telluride’s inches of average annual snowfall (300) and rate of powder days per season (11 percent) are respectable. But it’s really the laid-back vibe combined with hands-on service that makes Telluride great.

The staff-to-guest ratio here is one to three, and employees do jobs spanning from ski valet to instructor teaching Burton’s Learn-to-Ride program to facilities manager who’s helped turn this eco-friendly place into a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

Telluride’s 125 trails have a collective vertical drop of 4,425 feet. And though the biggest number of runs here are for experts, the 2,000 skiable acres are varied enough so that everyone can have their fun. Strung above groomers, and three terrain parks and bowls are 18 lifts whose capacity pushes 22,386 people per hour.

Besides alpine skiing and riding, Telluride offers Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, NASTAR racing, heli-skiing, ice climbing—and, for those who’d rather be aloft for longer, glider rides and paragliding.

The ski patrol is small, and it’s 65 miles to the nearest surgical hospital—a 30-minute airlift—so try to stay upright. The resort does offer a 24-hour emergency service, and there’s at least one onsite physician.

We recommend Hotel Madeline, as lovely as it sounds (unwind at Spa Linnea) and the Inn at Lost Creek, which manages to be simultaneously rustic and upscale. Before your head hits the pillow, though, make sure you’ve squeezed all you can out of a Telluride day: There are three ice-skating rinks, raucous nightlife venues, and good restaurants: Rev in Hotel Madeline is particularly worth trying. The Eco Kids program teaches youth about mountain wildlife, and two pedestrian villages, linked by a free-admission gondola (it gives more than two million rides per year), comprise a historic town whose residents seem to be mostly bearded mountain men.

The number of attractive males at Telluride goes up exponentially in late February during Gay Ski Week, while mid-February brings a comedy festival featuring big-name stand-up artists.

CONTACT: (800) 778-8581,
SEASON: Late November to early April
TICKETS: General: $98, ages 4 and younger: free

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