OAK, THE NEW FAT ALLEY BBQ
Not unlike Brown Dog is to pizza, Oak is the best barbecue joint in skiing, period. Its Alabama-born pit master does superlative slow smoked southern barbecue (especially ribs), plus winners like house cured bacon–try the deconstructed BLTs washed down with a bourbon from the restaurant’s extensive collection. 250 West San Juan Avenue, 970-728-3985, oakstelluride.com
NEW SHERIDAN BAR & CHOP HOUSE
Telluride excels at saloons, but it’s hard to top this straight-out-of-Westworld, 19th-century gem in the historic New Sheridan Hotel for cocktails. Follow drinks with red meat in the atmospheric Chop House, which also has a surprisingly long wine list with by the glass offerings carefully stored in a nitrogen preservation system. 231 West Colorado Avenue, 970-728-4351, newsheridan.com
WHERE TO SHOP
WAGNER CUSTOM SKIS
There is no more coveted winter sports hardware than a pair of Wagner skis. A decade ago, computer scientist Pete Wagner conceived a better way to make skis, and today his company is the world’s most renowned truly custom manufacturer. Many “custom” skis are merely variants on stock molds or fancy paint jobs, but every pair of Wagner skis is totally bespoke from the ground up to meet its user’s needs. For this season, Wagner, which was based 15 miles outside of town, opens its first Telluride showroom in pedestrianized Mountain Village. 970-728-0107, wagnerskis.com
The biggest complaints among skiers are sore feet and cold toes, and both can be solved through custom fitting. Boot Doctors is perennially ranked among the nation’s best ski boot fitters, and is so popular that reservations come recommended–even though they have two Telluride locations, one in town and one in Mountain Village. 970-728-4525, bootdoctors.com
BLACK BEAR TRADING COMPANY
If you like cowboy boots as much as ski boots, there’s no better brand than Lucchese, and these are stocked, along with top outdoor apparel labels like Filson and Rand Hats, at Black Bear. 218 West Colorado Avenue, 970-728-6556
WHAT TO SKI
Just about every big resort sells itself as all things to all skiers, and while this is rarely true, Telluride is the happy exception. It has it all: bowls, chutes, cliffs, glades, cruisers and groomers. Advanced intermediate skiers—and there are a lot of them—are often the hardest customers to please, caught between too challenging and not enough. Here there is a mid-mountain canyon area full of double blue advanced intermediate trails, served by the Apex and Polar Queen Express chairs, a feature you would be hard pressed to find anyplace else. The Village Express serves a sea of single blue intermediate terrain, while beginners have plenty to choose from, and unlike most resorts, where they are relegated to the base area, novices can enjoy the stunning vistas from some of the highest spots with good options to ski down.
Telluride excels at the high end, with a ton for experts and beyond, from in-bounds blacks and double blacks (lifts 6, 9, and 14) to a vast array of chutes and hike-to terrain (lifts 12 and 15). If you cannot be challenged here you cannot be challenged anywhere, and in recent years Telluride has facilitated the growing big mountain crowd by installing permanent metal stairs and rails so the extremes can be accessed more easily. On top of all this, bump fans know the resort has long been home to some of the best and most infamous mogul runs in the world, like double blacks Spiral Staircase and Kant-Mak-M off of lift 9 (they even offer multi-day instructional “Making Friends With Moguls” camps).
If somehow you run out of things to ski (you won’t), or just want a different kind of adventure, it is one of the few U.S. resorts with a daily heli-skiing operation, accessing an additional 250 square miles of powder. If there is a type of terrain you like to ski or ride, Telluride has lots of it.
HOW TO GET HERE
The new service this season into Telluride is tempting, with regional jet connections on a United partner through Denver, making it a one stop from just about any U.S. city, with almost no driving. But don’t overlook Montrose, the old alternative, which was never nearly as bad as it was made out to be, offering more flights and better reliability in winter weather. Montrose also significantly increased its winter flights for the third straight year, with non-stops on all three big carriers from major cities coast-to-coast including New York, Atlanta, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, and Denver. Montrose is just 68 miles away, closer than the airports serving many other major Colorado resorts, and there is easy ground shuttle service—visitors don’t need or want a car in Telluride.